I am not one for tradition when it comes to our Christmas menu – I love to create something new every year. But even so, I do have a set of holiday entertaining rules I live by. First and foremost, I always choose dishes that can be prepped in advance. If you are hosting guests, the last thing you want to think about is slaving over the stove while all of your friends and family are drinking and hanging out in the other room. (resist the urge to create a dish as laborious as risotto — a massive no no!) Slow-cooked meats are a great option because they only get better over time. As for how to best create the menu, I love the research and discovery of poring over my cookbooks for inspiration. And, I always write out my menu. Seeing the entire meal together helps me understand whether I need to add something fresh and crisp, like a salad, or make fewer dishes that are oven-bound. Finally, I make an ingredient-shopping list so my grocery store experience is focused. From plan to prep, this process is paramount in making the most of my holiday meal – with the least stress.
This year I intend to make the red wine–braised short ribs from Cook Beautiful. They are a perfectly decadent meal fit for snowy days and holidays. Because the meat is so rich and silky, it benefits from a spicy-zesty-crunchy gremolata to brighten it up and add some texture. And in place of traditional mash, I spike my pureed potatoes with celery root, which has a slightly sweet, nutty, and refreshing taste.
Braised Short Ribs with Horseradish Breadcrumbs and Celeriac Puree
Athena Calderone, Cook Beautiful
For the Short Ribs
5 pounds (2.3 kg) bone-in beef short ribs, cut into 6 to 8 pieces
Kosher salt and freshly cracked pepper
¼ cup (60 ml) olive oil
4 ounces (115 g) pancetta, chopped
1 tablespoon fennel seeds, toasted and crushed
1 medium onion, finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, smashed
1 leek, halved and chopped
6 sprigs fresh thyme
4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch
(2.5-cm) chunks on the bias
2 stalks celery, cut into 1-inch (2.5-cm) pieces
1 (750-ml) bottle full-bodied red wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 to 3 cups (480 to 720 ml) beef stock
For the Celeriac Puree
2 cups (480 ml) whole milk
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1½ pounds (680 g) celeriac, peeled and cut into 1½-inch (4-cm) pieces
1½ pounds (680 g) Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1½-inch (4-cm) pieces
1 leek, white and pale green parts only, halved
½ stick (2 ounces/55 g) unsalted butter, softened
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
Horseradish Bread Crumbs (recipe follows), for serving
½ cup (30 g) coarse bread crumbs
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup (50 g) finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons peeled and grated fresh horseradish
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon finely grated orange zest
Salt and freshly cracked pepper
Preheat the oven to 350°F (175˚C).
Make the short ribs: Season the short ribs with salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, sear the short ribs until well browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the short ribs to a large plate.
Drain all but 1 to 2 tablespoons of fat from the pot and add the pancetta. Cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the crushed fennel seeds, onion, garlic, leek, thyme, carrots, and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the leeks have softened. Add the wine, tomato paste, vinegar, and stock and bring them to a boil. Return the short ribs to the pot, adding extra stock just to cover if necessary. Cover the pot and put it in the oven.
Cook for 2½ hours. Remove the pot from the oven and transfer the short ribs and carrotsto a large platter; discard the thyme. Strain the cooking liquid through a fine-mesh sieve intoa bowl, then return the strained liquid to the pot. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat tomedium and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced by half. Skim anyexcess fat on the surface. Return the short ribs to the pot, turning them so they’re evenly coated, and season with salt and pepper.
Make the celeriac puree: In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, salt, celeriac, potatoes, leek,and 2 cups (480 ml) water and simmer, covered, until the celeriac and potatoes are tender, 20to 25 minutes. Drain the potatoes, reserving 1 cup (240 ml) of the liquid. Transfer the celeriac,potatoes, and leek to a food processor and puree them with the butter until they’re smooth,creamy, and free of lumps. If the puree is too thick, add some of the reserved cooking liquid.Season with salt and pepper.
Divide the celeriac puree among individual plates. Top with the short ribs, carrots, and sauceand serve accompanied by the horseradish bread crumbs.
Make the horseradish breadcrumbs:
In a small sauté pan, toast the bread crumbs with the oil over medium heat until golden brown, about 3 minutes. In a small bowl, combine the garlic, parsley, horseradish, zests, and bread crumbs, then season with salt and pepper.