Fall is here. The last two mornings we've woken up to frost on the grass and below freezing temps. The garden is pretty much officially done as a result - the collards can stand the freezing temps (if anything, they help improve them), but the rest is either compost or needs to be brought in soon.
So, in honor of fall, we had a tasty, hearty meal - braised country-style ribs finished in the crockpot.
This was also my first attempt at homemade polenta, which was fabulous. A bit fussy, what with the constant stirring, but I see much potential in the future.
Zinfandel-Braised Short Ribs with Creamy Polenta
4 country-style pork ribs
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 tablespoon each of chopped parsley, oregano and rosemary
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery rib, finely chopped
1 1/4 cups Zinfandel
3/4 cup beef broth
Season the ribs with salt and pepper and sprinkle with the herbs.
In a large skillet, heat the vegetable oil. Add the bacon and cook over moderate heat until crisp, about 6 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a medium nonreactive roasting pan. Working in two batches, add the ribs to the skillet and cook over moderately high heat, turning a few times, until richly browned, about 6 minutes per batch. Transfer the ribs to the crockpot.
Add the onion, carrot and celery to the skillet and cook over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add the wine and beef broth and boil, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Pour the liquid and vegetables over the ribs. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours until the meat is very tender.
Transfer the ribs to a plate. Run the braising liquid thru a fat separator, reserving the vegetables. Transfer the liquid to a medium skillet and boil over high heat until reduced to 2 cups, about 3 minutes; add vegetables back in. Plate the polenta, add one rib per plate, and spoon sauce and vegetables over the ribs and polenta. Serve immediately.
Wine pairing: we had a merlot/malbec blend with this.