Shortribs 5

Braised beef short ribs are the epitome of “high end” comfort food. They can often be found on restaurant menus, cooked with classical French or Asian flavors and bearing a somewhat hefty price tag. I think many people have the misconception that they’re pricey because they’re technically difficult or labor-intensive to prepare, but those preconceived notions couldn’t be father from the truth.

Yes, at the grocery store beef short ribs aren’t as inexpensive as stew or braising meat, but getting the result of tender, succulent, fall-off-the bone meat is so worth extra cost. And this “fancy” restaurant dish can be prepared right in your own kitchen (culinary degree not required). Making braised short ribs at home is definitely worth the effort, and they are, in fact, pretty effortless to prepare. They even create their own sauce while they cook.

For a twist on this classic dish, I’ve put a Southwestern spin on it, using spices and flavors commonly found in Southwestern cuisine and — my favorite bit — tequila. Serve them on a bed of garlic mashed potatoes or sweet corn polenta (as I’ve done) to soak up the flavorful, gravy-like sauce.
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I was in another Latin mood last week when I decided to make this recipe. I had a taste in my mouth for that combination of vinegar, olive oil, garlic and fresh herbs that chimichurri possesses and was simply looking for an excuse to make it, and a vehicle on which to consume it. Chimichurri is a traditional, uncooked condiment from Argentina that is used on grilled meats and fish. I could eat it on almost anything.

My inspiration for this came from a dish I’d eaten recently, grilled flank steak with chimichurri, at Cafe Dufrain in Harbour Island. Flank steak can be tough and needs to be marinated for a long time and I wanted a tender, thick and juicy hunk of meat, so I opted for a New York strip instead (my cut of choice). This cut of meat really doesn’t need to be marinated because it’s tender enough already, but I wanted to infuse a bit more flavor before throwing it on the grill. You can use any beer you’d like for the marinade (I used Dos Equis Amber) but I’d suggest a somewhat dark beer, like a Mexican amber beer or a medium ale, nothing too light or fruity. (more…)

bistro_burger

The weather here in the Tampa Bay area has been absolutely gorgeous lately, an has put me in the mood for some grilling action. I’ve had a hankering for a big juicy burger for ages, but I wanted to try something different than a plain old patty with American cheese on a boring bun.

I was at the book store and noticed the Sutter Home Build a Better Burger cook-off cookbook in the bargain section. It inspired me to create a gourmet burger of my own (and also reminded me that I had forgotten to enter last year, again). I didn’t find any one particular recipe that I wanted to use, but it got my creative juices flowing. Fortunately, being a foodie, I usually have all sorts of fancy cheeses, condiments, etc. in my fridge and pantry, so I decided to throw together a “bistro burger” (I thought that name sounded better than: “fancy-schmancy burger”).

Recipe after the break: (more…)

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