Friday, August 20, 2010

Beat the Summer Heat with Cornas!

You know that I'm joking. If I were to list 25 wines that I want to drink in hot weather, I cannot imagine that Cornas would appear. Who wants to drink rustic and earthy northern Rhône Syrah when it's very humid and 94 degrees outside?

But the other night I had dinner with a good friend who is somewhat of a short rib master. I wanted to show off a new short rib recipe I've been working on, and so that's what we ate. Heat and humidity be damned.

I braised short ribs (Slope Farms, of course) with Chipotle peppers inflected liquid. Nothing complicated - here's the recipe:

Salt and pepper the short ribs a day or two before cooking. Brown them well over high heat on all sides in a heavy bottomed pot. Remove the ribs, pour out the fat from the pot, lower the heat to medium, and add some oil. When it is hot, add chopped onions and a clove of lightly crushed garlic and stir, scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Add salt here, and then a 28 oz. can of tomatoes - I like to use whole plum tomatoes and crush them with my hands. Add some chicken stock, about 2 cups let's say, stir well, and then add two chopped Chipotle peppers.

I used La Morena brand peppers in adobo sauce. The peppers aren't very big, so you might be thinking "Wow, only two peppers for all of those ribs and sauce?" I want the smokey spicy Chipotle aromas and flavors to be present, not to dominate, and you're going to braise this for a long time. I put a tight lid on the pot it in a 225 degree oven at about 9 at night and don't take it out until the kids wake up at 6 AM.

This dish is good no matter what, but there aren't many ingredients. If you use really good tomatoes and home made stock, it makes a big difference.

After the braising is done I remove the ribs and pour the fat off the top of the cooking liquid and purée it. Now comes the creative part. You can shred the meat and serve it with the sauce over pasta or use it as part of a taco.

But these are short ribs, after all, so I do the shredding with the leftovers. I like to serve them as is, over the sauce, which I like to reheat with a little bit of cream to make it feel more luxurious, topped with a scattering of cilantro and scallions. If you eat a small portion, it works even in the heat of summer.

But what to drink with this dish? Probably beer, but I'm stubborn and we wanted wine. I remembered my friend Peter telling me a little while ago that Syrah is very flexible and can work with dishes like this. So Adam dug around in his cellar and produced a fantastic bottle of wine, the 1997 Auguste Clape Cornas.

This is totally unlike the 2000 I had not too long ago, which was delicious and compelling, but much more rustic. The 1997 Clape is without question the most elegant Cornas that I've had. Intense with black olives and earth, but focused and narrow on the nose. And perfectly balanced on the palate, great intensity of flavor, but nothing juts out, not remotely clunky. Very elegant, pretty wine. It worked very well with the smokey spicy meat, assertive enough to hold its own, but graceful too. A completely lovely and delicious Cornas. And somehow it felt like good summer eating and drinking.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm drooling. - Bryan

Weston said...

yeah I love the over night braising method, Do it a lot tho, I did it last time with a Braised curry