Too busy to cook? Or — too many holidays in a row so it seems as if there’s no time to cook everything you need? Like when just a few days after Yom Kippur there’s Sukkot, then Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah?
When this jumble of holidays comes around — or you’re just plain busy anytime — you need to think ahead about food. These are the times when it would be helpful to have some delicious stuff frozen, at the ready, and — if for a holiday, festive enough too.
Like braised food. Most braised foods freeze beautifully and besides in October and beyond it’s a good time to be thinking about these kinds of foods anyway, with the weather cooling. I’m a big salad eater in the summer but somehow when the leaves turn autumn colors and I have to wear a sweater when I go outside I can’t imagine eating leftovers vinaigrette, my go-to hot weather dish. I want something hot and hearty.
One of my favorites is short ribs. I make big batches of them and freeze them in plastic containers: family size or dinner-for-two when it’s just Ed and me. Then when I need dinner it’s there waiting for me. All I do is let it thaw and heat it up. Braised short ribs are delicious with mashed potatoes or cooked egg noodles, but these require actual pots and pans, so make baked potato or sweet potato, which don’t. Plus a green vegetable, which doesn’t take too much time.
Braised Short Ribs with Dried Apricots is one of my favorite braised entrees. Try it.
Braised Short Ribs with Dried Apricots
4 pounds short ribs (with bone)
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
3 tablespoons Balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 cups red wine
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
1 cup dried apricots
Rinse and dry the meat. Dredge the meat in the flour to coat all surfaces. Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Brown the ribs in batches, leaving ample space between them so that they can brown properly. Remove the ribs as they brown and set aside in a plate. Continue until all the ribs have been browned. Add the onions to the pan, lower the heat and cook for 3-4 minutes. Stir in the garlic and ginger and cook for another minute. Mix the vinegar, mustard and wine and pour the liquid into the pan. Return the meat and any accumulated juices to the pan. Sprinkle to taste with salt and pepper and sprinkle with rosemary. Cover the pan. Cook at a simmer for 2-1/2 to 3 hours or until the meat is tender. Remove the meat to a dish. Skim the fat from the pan fluids. Add the apricots to the pan. Boil the pan fluids until they ahve reduced to about 3 cups. Return the meat to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes to heat through. Makes 4 servings