Last Sunday was a totally gorgeous preview of spring here in the Boston area. Abundant sunshine, crisp, light jacket sorts of temperatures, and the tiniest hints of flower buds were in evidence everywhere. In celebration of this joyous occasion, Mr. Menace and I elected to shelve our much-needed house cleaning until the afternoon in order to take a walk.
However, we are not really for-its-own-sake sorts of walkers. We are walkers who require a purpose, a destination. We decided to head over to Fresh Pond shopping plaza to stock up on Trader Joe’s coffee and, since we had a $10 gift certificate, treat ourselves to something truly spectacular from Whole Foods to be our dinner that evening.
After we arrived at Whole Foods and ate some pricey but delicious lunch from their hot bar (really, how could I resist the fried plantains?) we scoped around for the special something worthy of our date-night meal. We were tempted by the wild-caught scallops in the fish section, but finally settled on something a bit closer to our budget but still impressive – two and half pounds of the most beautiful short ribs I’d ever laid eyes on. I usually buy my short ribs at McKinnon’s, where they are boneless and about an inch thick – tasty, but nothing to get all worked up about. Whole Foods’ short ribs, on the other hand, were the Platonic ideal of short ribness. Bone in, about three inches thick, marbled with fat and rosy – truly, this would be a treat!
I decided to make my favorite short rib recipe – Anise-Scented Short Ribs from Bittman’s How to Cook Everything. The Asian-inspired flavors play surprisingly well with hearty beef, and the reduced cooking juices are so good I would eat my running shoes in it.
It’s sweet without being cloying, salty enough from the soy sauce that further salt is totally unnecessary, and the meat becomes incredibly tender when infused in it. Add to this that outside of rice this is practically a one-pot meal, and you can see why I like it so much. I linked the recipe from See, Sip, Taste, Hear rather than reprint it for you because her tips about the spices (outside of where to buy them) are pretty spot-on.
Rather than make this with the white rice the recipe calls for, we got even fancier with Trader Joe’s Brown Rice Medley. I love this stuff – nutty brown rice, chunky black barley, and little zippy daikon radish seeds! Much healthier and more exciting than white rice. While it was cooking I threw some broccoli into the steamer basket to beef up our vegetables quotient. When it was all done we opened a bottle of very nice wine and sat down to this:
Gorgeous, isn’t it? And the difference between these and our usual scrawny short ribs was amazing. These were so meaty, but still succulent; tender, but with a perfect slightly chewiness; it was heaven on a plate. Mr. Menace declared that, since the recipe takes about two hours to prepare, it wasn’t really worth doing without such quality ingredients!
We capped the evening off with some unbelievably fudgey brownies, also courtesy of How To Cook Everything. If this had been a restaurant excursion, I’d say five stars – highly recommend! Given that we were able to do all of this with the added comfort of our own home, I’ll simply say it was a joyous day.