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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Guess Who's Coming to Dinner?

Okay, not Sidney Poitier. Close, though! Stinger's very charming boss and the boss's even more charming wife. We had them over on Saturday to repay a memorable (well, hazy, actually, but in the good way) evening of Manhattans, dinner at the country club, followed by homemade limoncello (I think, although this is where the memory goes fuzzy) and the comedy stylings of Ron 'Tater Salad' White in hi def on the projection screen in their basement.

Naturally, I felt that we had to return an equally fun evening. So we had Bourbon Sidecars and champagne (Very Charming Wife's only drawback is a dislike for cocktails, which normally would make me sad, but since it gave me the opportunity to be a stellar hostess by guzzling Schramsberg, I held it together), dinner prepared by yours truly, followed by shots of bourbon (that was all Charming Boss's idea--the man can drink. Stinger's rule when drinking with him is to follow a three-to-one ratio), followed by our favorite comedian, Eddie 'Executive Transvestite' Izzard.

Dinner, though! That was fun. It took all day to prepare, although there were many elements of it that could have been made days ahead if I'd done better planning. We had a salad with homemade vinaigrette, then Braised Short Ribs with Citrus on a bed of celery root puree. Stinger did the dessert, which I'll get to in a minute.

We bought the short ribs from a local butcher shop I've passed many times and meant to check out, but until this weekend, never managed to. It's skeevy on the outside, like many butcher shops, but inside is clean and perfectly nice, in a there's-lots-of-raw-meat-in-here kind of way. The recipe (from one of my favorite cookbooks, Jean Georges Vongerichten's Simple to Spectacular--seriously, one of the most dud-free cookbooks I've ever encountered) calls for 4 lbs. of short ribs to be browned on the stovetop and then braised for three hours with a mirepoix of carrots, celery and onion, a bottle of fruity white wine, and a bunch of mixed citrus juice and zest.

It was great fun to cook, although I'm afraid with all the zesting, there may have been microscopic bits of me grated into the mix. And I wish I had pictures of how it all turned out, but we were too hungry and too busy serving our guests to bother with the camera at that point. You finish the dish with blanched white cabbage, to add a little bulk to the stew, and even more citrus flavor in the form of segments of limes, lemons, and oranges, to really bump up the tart juiciness of the sauce. It was delicious. Rather more trouble than I'm likely to take for just Stinger and me, but for a dinner party? Perfection. Because most of it was done in advance, so by the time our guests arrived, I could sit down and enjoy them rather than hopping around the kitchen in a frenzy of last minute tinkering.


Okay, A. I just watched that movie (the Sidney Poitier one) and B. I have been thisclose to make short ribs several times in the last few weeks.

I think you may have pushed me over the edge. They sound so good!

It's 8:35 a.m. and I'm now craving short ribs. See what you do to me?

They were SO good. Even better the next day, in that way all stews are. I think next time I'll just make the whole dish a day in advance and let it sit overnight so all the flavors meld, then heat it up for the guests. I swear it's better that way.

When can I come to your house for dinner?

Sounds so delish and so adult.

You're all welcome for dinner anytime!

Oooh, that looks so good, Lou! Color me jealous.

Meggie, you would've loved it! Next time you come visit, it's all about the braised short ribs.

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