To really let the flavors marry, cook the short ribs a day in advance and refrigerate overnight. Reheat on the stove top or in the oven.
Make Ahead: The short ribs need to marinate for at least 3 hours and up to overnight. The polenta can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. The finished short ribs can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Reheat the finished short ribs and sauce in a covered pot over medium-low heat.
- For the short ribs
- 3 pounds bone-in short ribs
- 1 medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 large carrot, diced
- 3 ribs celery, diced
- 3 whole cloves garlic
- 750 mls (1 bottle) red wine, preferably Chianti
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 or 4 tablespoons canola oil
- 56 ounces canned whole tomatoes and their juices, preferably San Marzano
- Water, as needed
- 1 dried arbol chili pepper, stemmed
- 1 bunch thyme, tied
- 2 bay leaves
- For the polenta
- 1 cup fine polenta
- 4 cups cold water, plus more as needed
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
- For the escarole
- 1/4 cup good-quality olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, cut into very thin slices
- Pinch crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 heads escarole, washed, dried and coarsely chopped
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- For assembly
- Fresh horseradish, peeled, for garnish
- Good-quality extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling
For the short ribs: Combine the short ribs, onion, carrot, celery, garlic and wine in a large zip-top bag. Seal and massage to coat. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours and up to overnight.
Remove the meat from the marinade and pat it dry. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Strain the marinade, reserving it and the vegetables.
Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over high heat. Once the oil begins to shimmer, add the short ribs, working in batches, and sear briefly on all sides to pick up color. Use tongs to transfer the short ribs to a plate.
Add the reserved vegetables to the pot and stir to coat. Cook until they are slightly translucent, stirring so they don’t burn. Return the meat to the pot, then add the marinade. Cook until the liquid has reduced by half.
Add the canned tomatoes and their juices. If the meat is not covered, add water as needed.
Add the arbol pepper, thyme and bay leaves to the pot; reduce the heat to low. Cover and cook for 3 to 4 hours. The meat should be spoon-tender.
Carefully transfer the meat to a bowl, discarding the bay leaves and thyme. If you like a bit of heat, keep the arbol pepper in the pot. Discard the bones or reserve for serving; they lend flavor and plate appeal.
Use a stick (immersion) blender to puree what’s in the pot. Return the meat and bones to the pot. Heat through before serving, or cool and transfer to a container and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
For the polenta: Combine the polenta and water in a heavy-bottomed pot, stirring to incorporate completely, then place over medium-high heat. Stir constantly as the mixture starts to bubble and thicken, then reduce the heat to low and cook (uncovered) for 40 minutes, stirring often to avoid scorching. If the mixture gets too thick, add water as needed.
Once the grains are soft and the polenta can coat the back of a spoon, stir in the salt, butter and cheese. Serve immediately, or keep warm under aluminum foil, or cool and refrigerate in a container for up to 3 days.
For the escarole: Combine the olive oil and garlic in a large pot over medium heat. Once the garlic is fragrant and its edges turn light brown, add the crushed red pepper flakes and let them toast briefly, then add the escarole and toss to coat.
Increase the heat to high; cook just long enough to wilt the greens, then remove the pot from the heat. Stir in the lemon zest, salt and black pepper.
When ready to serve, warm the dinner plates. Divide the polenta among individual plates. Use a spoon to create a hole at the center of the polenta, then place a portion of the escarole there.
Spoon out the short ribs (with or without bones), arranging them on top of the escarole and polenta. Be sure to add a good amount of the sauce.
Finish the dish by grating fresh horseradish, to taste, on top of the short ribs. Drizzle each portion with extra-virgin olive oil. Serve hot.
From Michael Friedman, chef of the upcoming Red Hen restaurant in Bloomingdale.
Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.
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