I’m a planner by nature and this was even evident many years ago. When I started at Ohio State, I looked into all of what I needed to do to complete my degree. I planned out my quarters (before the University went to the semester calendar) years in the future and pushed myself to take a heavier workload than most of my fellow classmates. A typical quarter was 15 credit hours. I would take 20, 22 or even 23. That, combined with a few credits earned from high school AP classes, meant that I would graduate early.
Like eating your vegetables first to get them out of the way, I took required course after required course to fill my schedule. The only electives I took filled a minor in a different field, so as my collegiate career was coming to an end I found that for my last quarter I had fulfilled all of my requirements and only needed to take two classes. One had to be an elective in my major (journalism) and the other could be an elective in any department.
I spent a good portion of my savings, bought a high quality used camera, and signed up for both a photography and photo-journalism class. That fall I walked around not with books, but with a camera. It was the perfect way to end what had been a really booked college career. To make it even better, I took the photography class pass/fail.
With the classes I learned to frame a picture, properly light it and to develop film. I know that my pictures here no longer reflect any of that knowledge, but alas, I’ve lost more than that from my mind. Often I would take a series of photographs and was able to submit pictures for both classes.
One weekend, my girlfriend (who is now the Ranting Wife) and I decided to visit a friend (Maggie from Maggie Monday fame) in Virginia. We spent a great weekend there and when Sunday came around I recalled I had to finish an assignment for my photojournalism class. We had a list of concepts that we had to take pictures for: shadow, perspective, etc… As we had to turn in developed slides, I really needed to get those pictures taken. So I left the others and started driving around the countryside in look of targets. I’d pull up to a barn, roll down my window and snap a picture. Pull up to a cow…snap. Find some flowers…snap. I finished my assignment and after the slides were developed, turned them in.
Later that week the professor turned off the lights, turned on the slide projector and walked through the best examples of the different categories. When he got to the category of perspective, a picture of a cow laying down in a pasture filled the screen. It was one of mine.
The professor said that he really loved the picture because the person who took it, did something that virtually no other photographer would do – he got down to the level of the cow. Instead of shooting it from above, by getting so low, you get a different look of the cow in repose. He then moved on.
Reflecting on my picture I recalled how it was taken. I drove up to the field and saw the cow. The road dipped lower than the field and when I rolled down my window (car still in gear), I was at the cow level. Perspective!
Braised Short Ribs with Mushrooms
No matter how you look at it, this dish is awesome.
I hope these ribs didn’t come from that same cow!
Ingredients in to make the paste.
All mashed up.
Frying the pork.
Adding in the ribs.
They just fall apart and are heavenly!
Braised Short Ribs with Mushrooms
Prep Time: 1 h 3 m | Cook Time: 4 h 20 m | Servings: 8 servings | Difficulty: Easy
8 short ribs (12 ounces each), trimmed and tied by a butcher
11 cloves garlic
1/4 cup tomato paste
6 ounces pancetta, diced
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons cognac or brandy
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups red wine
1/4 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
10 ounces oyster mushrooms, trimmed
10 ounces cremini mushrooms, trimmed and halved
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Bring the short ribs to room temperature. Meanwhile, pulse the shallots, 10 cloves garlic and the tomato paste in a food processor to make a paste. Cook the pancetta in a large ovenproof pot over medium-high heat until crisp, about 7 minutes. Transfer the pancetta and all but 2 tablespoons drippings to a bowl.
Add the shallot mixture to the pot and cook, stirring, until brown, about 6 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium and add 1/2 cup cognac, scraping up the browned bits. Sprinkle in the flour and cook, stirring, about 5 more minutes. Gradually stir in the wine until smooth. Add the porcini, thyme, bay leaves and 11/2 teaspoons salt.
Season the short ribs with salt and pepper, place in the pot and add water to cover. Trim a piece of parchment paper so that it rests on the surface of the meat. Cover the pot with the lid and transfer to the oven. Cook until the meat is fork-tender, about 3 hours.
Remove the meat from the sauce and transfer to a plate. Set the sauce aside, about 10 minutes, then skim off the fat. (If the sauce is thick, add a splash of water.) Discard the bay leaves, season the sauce with salt and pepper and add the remaining 2 tablespoons cognac. Return the short ribs to the sauce and keep warm over low heat.
Chop the remaining 1 clove garlic, then mash with 1/2 teaspoon salt using the flat side of a knife; add the parsley and chop. Heat the pancetta and the reserved drippings in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oyster and cremini mushrooms and cook until brown, about 10 minutes. Toss in the parsley mixture. Untie the short ribs, divide among plates and top with the sauce and mushrooms.