As you read earlier today, Katie and I had the extreme fortune of gallivanting around a farmer’s market this weekend with a 3 Michelin star chef, Joe Palma, the Chef de Cuisine of the Eric Ripert Restaurant, Westend Bistro.
Chef Palma took us to the Old Town Farmer’s Market, determining his menu on the spot based on the market fare. I followed close in his footsteps, requesting identical produce at each stop: “I’ll have the same.” We picked up fresh sage, Asian pears, green tomatoes, Brussels sprouts and garlic before returning to the kitchen at the Ritz.
I asked Chef Palma to be very mindful of keeping the ingredients simple and the equipment minimal, and he gave us a first course and a main course that are to die for and very, very simple.
To start, Chef Palma threw together a green tomato, Asian pear, and spiced pecan salad with the most incredibly balanced, light and fresh blue cheese dressing.
Then he caramelized Brussels sprouts with cipollini onions in enough butter for a year, a few delicate sage leaves and some no-nonsense smashed garlic cloves, topping off the divinely moist and buttery vegetables with a heavily marinated and then slow-cooked short rib — all surrounded with a bordelaise sauce.
I’m delighted that Chef Palma chose this combination. The salad was light and refreshing, while the short rib and Brussels sprouts combination was hearty enough for a Thanksgiving dinner. But the meal was so simple with the final results being so tremendous, I’d be tempted to make it once a week.
Oh my goodness. I felt like I just had a great glass of wine, I was so overwhelmed by how amazing it was. I truly felt drunk on lunch.
After leaving Westend, I headed straight to Del Ray’s boutique butcher, Let’s Meat on the Avenue, where I bought 3.5 lbs of bone-in short ribs. Art on the Avenue was taking place that day right out front of the shop, and I was nervous at first that they would be sold out of the only thing I needed: short ribs. Looking at a few kangaroo filets and the remaining sausages at the counter, I was really glad to see my new best friend pull ribs out of a separate room. Three and a half pounds of short ribs set me back about $23 at the butcher shop.
I grabbed a few more things at the grocery store: a cheap bottle of wine, fresh parsley, thyme and tarragon, and braising vegetables.
After marinating the short ribs overnight and slow cooking them for three and a half hours the next afternoon, I have never been so excited to open my oven and find rib bones poking out over the braising liquid. The meat had all fallen off the bone, and it was perfectly cooked.
I went to bed that night surrounded by the continued aroma of those ribs. I could still taste them. I probably dreamt about them all night. I can’t wait to do it all again.
Run, don’t walk, to the farmer’s market for your produce and the butcher for your short ribs. The short ribs need to marinate overnight, so go get yours today if you want to make these tomorrow!
With the most sincere thanks to Chef Joe Palma, the recipes for these perfect dishes are below for your cooking pleasure.
Green Tomato and Asian Pear Salad with Blue Cheese Dressing
4 Green tomatoes, sliced in rounds and cut into quarters, seasoned with salt and pepper
2 Asian pears, cut into matchsticks
1/2 c Pecans or walnuts (or more, you will want more…)
4 or 5 Spice seasoning
Arugula or greens (optional)
- Toast the nuts. (A shortcut for this is buying Spicy and Sweet Walnuts at Harris Teeter.) Melt butter in the oven in an oven safe pan. Add either 4 spice or 5 spice seasoning along with some cayenne and allow the spices to meld in the butter. Then add the nuts. Toast the nuts in the spiced butter. The chef says the oven is best, and a stove-top pan is harder.
- Lay the pears, tomatoes and pecans out on your plates.
Salad Dressing Ingredients:
2 tsp Fresh parsley, finely chopped with a sharp knife
2 tsp Fresh tarragon, finely chopped with a sharp knife
1/2 Mayonnaise (go with it)
1/3 c Blue cheese crumbles
1 tsp Salt
2 Tbsp Milk
Juice of 1 lemon
- Dot the dressing on top of the plated ingredients and around the plate.
- Top with a little arugula or greens.
Short Ribs with Bordelaise Sauce
3-4 lbs of Bone-in short ribs
1 Bottle red wine (cheap is great)
2 Carrots, roughly chopped (the veggies are removed later)
1 Celery stalk, roughly chopped
1 Onion, roughly chopped
1 Full head of garlic, cut in half through the middle (side-to-side), unpeeled
Salt and pepper
2 tsp Fresh thyme, leaves removed from the stems, finely chopped with a sharp knife
1 Fresh bay leaf (I cheated here and used 2 dried bay leaves…It worked!)
A dozen black peppercorns
1-2 Quarts Chicken or beef stock
2 tbsp Tomato paste
- Marinate the short ribs overnight in the wine, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, salt and pepper, thyme, bay leaf and peppercorns.
- The next day, pat the meat dry and sear both sides of the meat in a hot pan (I had to use my pasta / stock pot. It was the only thing that could fit all that meat and juice, and it worked very well).
- Remove the meat.
- To the same pan, add the braising liquid it marinated in.
- Add the tomato paste to the liquid.
- Put the ribs back in the pan.
- Add enough chicken or beef stock to cover the meat.
- Turn the oven to 325 degrees and cook for 3-4 hours.
- Remove the short ribs.
- Strain the vegetables from the braising liquid and reserve the liquid to drizzle over and around the short ribs.
Caramelized Brussels Sprouts
24 Brussels sprouts, halved, ends trimmed, but not so far that the leaves start falling off
6 Cipollini onions, peeled and left whole (in the grocery store, you can find these by the garlic at in a little, red, mesh bag)
1 Stick of butter (again, go with it)
4 Cloves garlic, smashed and unpeeled
6 Whole, fresh sage leaves
1 tsp Red wine vinegar
- Bring heavily salted water to a boil.
- Blanche onions and Brussels sprouts by boiling for 7 minutes. Reserve 6 tablespoons of salted water.
- Stop them from cooking with an ice bath.
- Melt the butter with the garlic and sage leaves in a large oven-safe pan on the stove top.
- Place Brussels sprouts and onions in pan, cut side down.
- Spoon in a little salt water from blanching, about 3 tbsp.
- Put the pan in the bottom of the oven, not a rack, at 500 degrees for about 15 minutes.
- Put the pan back on the burner.
- Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of water.
- Taste it, and add 1 tsp red wine vinegar.
- Plate the short ribs on top of the Brussels sprouts and onions, surrounded with sauce.
To die for!