bacon – 1 strip
1 big carrot
1 big rib celery
2-ish pounds beef chuck
1 smallish cabbage
2 big beets
salt and pepper
This makes a big, meaty pot of soup, so adjust the quantities to suit your tastes. Preheat your oven to 275 F. Dice up a strip of bacon and start sauteeing that in an oven-safe pot or casserole. Add the diced onion, celery, and carrot. Once those are soft, add the beef – I went with small cubes but big ones would make it more stew-like. Once the beef has browned a bit add the chopped cabbage and grated beets. Add enough water to almost cover the stuff in the pot and bring it all to a boil. Cover and place in the oven. Cook until the beef is tender, about 2 hours. Season as you like – I usually add some salt, pepper, and vinegar.
Set your oven to 400 F. Soften up some vegetables in a skillet with butter. Add some sausage. Whisk up enough eggs and creme fraiche (or cream) to cover the vegetables and sausage. Grate cheese on top and put it in the oven. It’s done when it’s fluffy and golden brown. If you let it rest a couple of minutes it’ll release from the pan nicely.
The cafeteria at the Museum of the American Indian serves some pretty good food, notwithstanding this pile of gooey frybread. The other decent option is the cafe at the National Gallery of Art.
Ingredients: beef short ribs, onion, carrot, celery, red wine, rub spices, salt.
Short ribs are great grilled, but they’ve got some connective tissue that really wants to be braised. So, why not do both? First, your ribs should be big and chunky. If you’ve got thin-sliced ribs you should probably just grill them.
Start by getting your grill set up for indirect cooking. On my Weber, that means getting a smallish batch of coals going in the charcoal chimney and dumping those off to one side of the grill when they’re red-hot. If there’s greasy residue in your grill wait until that burns off – otherwise you’ll end up with a gross layer of black stuff on your meat.
Put some rub on your ribs. I like a mixture of salt, pepper, paprika, cumin, coriander, and allspice plus some fresh thyme or rosemary. Once the grill is hot and clean place the ribs on the side opposite the coals. Put the lid on. Turn them over after 10 or 15 minutes. Close the vent on the grill a bit if it’s too hot – you don’t want the ribs to cook too quickly. Check on the ribs every 15 minutes or so.
Meanwhile, heat up your oven to about 275F. Get out a braising dish the ribs will fit in. Pretty much any non-reactive (glass, enamel, stainless steel) dish or pot with a lid will work for braising. I like to throw some chopped onion, carrot, and celery in the bottom of the pot and soften that up a bit in some bacon drippings. This also gets the braising pot nice and hot for the ribs.
The ribs could be ready to braise after 30 minutes, but I like to let them go about an hour for more smoky flavor. When you’re ready, move them to the braising pot and pour some red wine in with them. Use enough wine to come about halfway up the ribs – not enough to cover them up completely. Bring the pot to a boil then cover and place in the oven. Check for tenderness after an hour, but it usually takes about 2 to achieve that desirable “falling off the bone” texture.
They’re good immediately, and even better reheated the next day. If you chill them you can easily separate out the layer of fat and harvest the gelatinous stuff for an excellent sauce.