Anniversary dinners at my house require mouth-watering food because they have to be dazzling and memorable and mainly because if you don’t know I’m fancy like that. It’s also an accomplishment to create a masterpiece for dinner at the comfort of my own kitchen.
Eric and I could have easily gone out for dinner somewhere fancy and special but there’s nothing like an extra-ordinary cooked meal at home. I really wanted something fantastically delicious and utterly oozing with comfort, something that would take a little more effort than my typical cooking timeframe. (Something that a little Krystal love would require.) Nothing says comfort food to me like tenderly cooked and braised meat. Previous anniversary dinners have included Osso Bucco with Risotto Milanese, Boeuf Bourguignon, and I needed to add another spectacular braised protein dish to be added to my “anniversary dinners.”
Eric and I had visited Mesa Grill in Las Vegas back in 2007 and we had fallen in love with every single part of the menu. I had ordered the New Mexican pork tenderloin with sweet potato tamales topped with pecan-butter, oh my goodness – it was life-changing. Eric had later bought the book for me and I had recreated the meal to the best of my ability, too. I absolutely love and adore Bobby Flay, and was uber-excited when I met him last year for his Throwdown book signing. This recipe was probably one of the easiest to prepare from the book with the least amount of preparation time. Although the entire meal including the garnishments of cilantro oil, red Chile oil and the side dish of creamy polenta is a bit time consuming but it adds greatly to the entirety of the wonderful dish.
Anniversary Dinner Year 3 was quite successful and truly enjoyed by the both of us.
Chile Rubbed Short Ribs with Creamy Polenta
Adapted from Mesa Grill Cookbook
3 tablespoons New Mexico red chile powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons Kosher salt
2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
3 pounds bone-in short ribs
4 cloves garlic, peeled
1 medium Spanish onion, coarsely chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 stalk celery, coarsely chopped
1 cup red wine
4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
6 sprigs fresh thyme
Freshly ground black pepper
Creamy Polenta with Cotija (recipe follows)
Garnishments: Cilantro Oil & Red Chile Oil (optional)
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
In a small bowl combine the chile powder, 2 teaspoons salt, the cinnamon and the coarsely ground black pepper. Place the short ribs on a large baking sheet and rub the mixture one side at a time with the seasonings.
Heat 2 or 3 heaping tablespoons of olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, about 2 or 3 minutes. Working in batches, sear the ribs in a single layer and cook until a crust has formed and ribs are golden brown. Turn the ribs over and cook on the other side. Place on a plate and cook remaining ribs, add additional olive oil if necessary.
Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the fat in the pan and add the garlic, onion, carrots, and celery and cook until golden brown and slightly tender, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the wine and boil down until reduced. Add the chicken stock and lower the heat to a simmer.
Place the ribs back into the Dutch oven and add in the thyme and bring to a simmer. Cover the Dutch oven and place in the oven. Cook the ribs until tender and falling off the bone, about 2 to 2 ½ hours.
Remove the cover, and carefully remove the ribs from the Dutch oven and place on a large plate. Let cool slightly, and carefully remove the meat from the bone, discard the bones.
Strain the sauce, and discard the vegetables and return sauce back into the Dutch oven. Bring the sauce to a boil over high heat, make sure the sauce reduces to half, sauce consistency. Taste for seasonings, add salt and pepper if needed.
Serve over creamy polenta with cotija cheese, garnish with cilantro oil, red chile oil and fresh chives/cilantro.
5 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1 cup medium-grind white cornmeal
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
¼ cup heavy cream
1/3 cup grated cotija cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
In a medium sized saucepan, combine the chicken stock and two teaspoons salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the cornmeal in a fine stream, whisking constantly with a wire whisk. Once all the cornmeal has been added, reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. Stir the mixture, using a wooden spoon, every 5 minutes and continue cooking until all the liquid has been absorbed and the mixture is very creamy, 25 to 30 minutes.
Remove from the heat and stir in the butter, heavy cream, and cotija cheese until combined; season with salt and pepper.
Review: Absolutely delicious. These delectably sweet and slightly spicy short ribs are falling off the bone tender, and ooze with cinnamon and hint of spice. It’s that Bobby Flay touch that is so familiar and always brings me back to dinner at Mesa Grill. This dish is perfectly paired with the creamy polenta – it’s definitely an explosion of flavors hitting your mouth
Side note: After taking my food styling and photography class on Saturday, it’s really given me a better insight on creating a beautiful food shot. To create this plated dish - I used the inside of a burlap basmati bag (I almost threw it away but saved it) as my place setting, and it created a great base texture. I used a smaller dinner or dessert plate that I got from Matt’s loot, and I snipped some fresh chives from my garden to add a little bit of fresh garnishment to the dish. I added a slight glaze of olive oil to the meat to give a nice glossy feel. I also used a white foam board to bounce the natural light from my window, and with a couple editing and tweaking…this was the end result.
What do you think? I think I still have room for improvement, but it’s getting better.