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Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Holiday cooking report: Ribs and marrow

Never did get around to making that beef tenderloin I was hankering for (maybe in another couple of weeks), but I did try a recipe from The French Laundry Cookbook, which I received as a gift from my brother. (That cookbook celebrates its 10th birthday this year, by the way.)

Braised Short Ribs with Root Vegetables and Bone Marrow


I decided to make the braised beef ribs with root vegetables and bone marrow to take to the New Year’s Eve pitch-in party we’ve attended annually for the past several years. It turned out well, and the old dog learned some new tricks. Author and Chef Thomas Keller says that any time an alcoholic beverage is to be used in a marinade, the alcohol should be burned off first. I didn’t know that, and didn’t think it was even possible to light wine — but it is! After bringing my pot of aromatic vegetables and Terra Andina Cabernet to a boil I lit it, and was rewarded with a six-inch-high blue flame that burned for between five and 10 minutes. (I had used two bottles; presumably one bottle would burn half as long.)

Even though I described the ribs as “expensive pot roast,” they were incredibly flavorful and fall-apart tender. My favorite part of the dish turned out to be the fried bone marrow, which was crisp on the outside and creamy on the inside, with a subtle, delicious flavor. They do require some planning ahead but aren’t difficult to make, and I’m sure I’ll whip up another batch before too long.

Chef Keller would probably be pained to see his dish served in a Pyrex casserole dish instead of elegantly presented on a small plate, but there were no complaints — or leftovers. Thanks to phj73 for documenting it in his Flickr stream — the chances of my spending another three days making a second batch just because I forgot to take photos were slim to nil.

Over the past 10 years The French Laundry Cookbook has no doubt been reviewed way too many times, but I’ll throw in my two cents’ worth anyway. It’s a lovely book with gorgeous photographs, but it would be more at home on a coffee table than in the kitchen. As a cookbook, it leaves a lot to be desired — it’s big, heavy, awkwardly shaped and printed on glossy paper. It’s so nice that you almost don’t want it anywhere near the kitchen, lest it get food stains on it — and dogearing pages and making notes in the margins seems like desecration. I’ll no doubt get over that, but a companion volume for kitchen use sans photos and narratives — The French Laundry Recipe Book, essentially — would be a useful followup.

In the meantime, the blog French Laundry at Home is a good companion to the book, and a fun read to boot. It chronicles the experiences of a home cook named Carol as she makes all the recipes in the book, including some I’d never dream of tackling. She finished the book and that blog, and is now onto her next challenge: cooking her way through the Alinea cookbook.
J. Silverheels Gray, 10:31 AM

2 Comments:

Delicious!!!
Blogger Carlene, at 6:59 PM  
That looks fantastic! pretty good for a dog! And thanks to French Laundry at Home, I've tackled several recipes from The Bible I would never have tried. The braised sweetbreads is another really great one!
Blogger braingirl, at 8:47 AM  

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