Experimentation and some practice at home

Shorts ribs braised in Guinness, apple and garam masala

Last Friday saw me basically take a stab at creating my dish/recipe/whatever you want to call it.  The idea was to braise some short ribs that we had in the freezer in Guinness.  However I felt myself yearning for more, so I asked myself, “Self, what would go with Guinness?”.

The response back was reasonably quick – curry.  But as I set about making a curry powder I realized we had no ground or fresh ginger, so I ended up having to pause.  “Shit, what else would work?”   Scrounging around I found some garam masala which I thought would go well with the caramelized nature of the Guinness.  And I was off.

I set about searing the ribs in some grapeseed oil which brought about a plethora of yellow jackets – I’m not sure why they’re attracted to the smell of searing meat but this is the fourth or fifth time in the past couple of weeks this has happened to me.  Fortunately the dog was off getting groomed since she likes to chase them down. I’m alright with her hunting and eating flies but not so eager for her to get stung on the tongue by a yellow jacket.

After removing the ribs and killing three or four yellow jackets then closing the windows and shutting the back dorr, I added mirepoix for which I substituted apple for carrot (seeing as we had no carrot).  Once browned I added the garam masala, let this simmer for a minute or two and then placed the ribs back in and nearly covered with the Guinness and some beef stock.

With the dutch oven placed in the oven at just below 300 I returned to the loveseat we’ve set up outside and continued to read Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire on a gorgeous, if not slightly chilly Friday afternoon.  After some amount of time it smelled like I was baking apple pie, which really had me doubting my efforts for a while – seasonal sure, but not quite what I was aiming for.  The thought of beef co-mingling with apple pie is not a pleasant one, at least to me.

Some two hours later I removed the ribs from the oven, strained and degreased the liquid and set about making a sauce (along with the side dishes of truffled mashed potatoes and green beans with garlic).

How were the ribs you ask?  Nearly what I was looking for.  If anything the problem was in the Guinness which left a slight but unpleasantly bitter aftertaste.  I would consider making this again but using a Belgian style beer like Leffe Blonde (though I’d prefer Leffe Brun) or Unibroue Maudite Belgian Red Ale, both of which would presumably leave a sweeter rather than bitter aftertaste.  Adding some red wine vinegar or some such acid would be a good consideration as well to help brighten things up.

Breakfast sausage

Saturday saw me arise at 5:15 in order to ride my bike up to Ginger’s Ale House in order to catch the United match at 6:00.  They won 1-0 for anyone interested, though the match was undeniably boring and had everyone present wondering what the hell they bothered waking up for.

In the afternoon I turned my attention to making breakfast sausage seasoned with sage and ginger.

There’s not really a lot to say about the breakfast sausage.  I cooked some up yesterday morning to have with my fried egg and it was delicious, far superior to anything I’ve bought at a grocery store in both texture and flavor.

I guess the ultimate test for anything is whether or not I’d consider making it again, which I will endeavor to do when I run out of what I have in my freezer.


Saturday night saw me turn my attention to making a souffle (or two) for Jon, Erin & myself. 

We’d made souffles in class on Friday to varying degrees of success.  I used the temperature the chef told us to in class which turned out to be too high – the outside browned too quickly and the inside wasn’t done enough.  The end result was that they collapsed instantly.  So Saturday I was determined to get it right, which I did.

Again there’s not much to say.  I’ve always meant to try making souffles at home but was under the impression they were difficult and harder work than they were worth.

For the record – they are not difficult and there’s really not that much to them.  Essentially you make a bechamel (make a blonde roux and add some warm milk), whip in some egg yolks then add vanilla, separately whip egg whites to medium peaks, fold these into the yolk mixture and pour into ramekins that have been brushed with melted butter and dusted with sugar, bake and then eat and enjoy.

Was everything worth it?  Sure.  I have sausage for the next couple of weeks, I’ve learned to make souffles and the short ribs have given me something to strive towards the next time I make them.

Next up – I’ve got to get to the bacon; sauerbraten (despite Erin’s nearly extreme displeasure at having meat hanging out in our fridge for a week or so); and foie gras fest is nearly upon us.


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