Step aside Baby Backs….Short Ribs comin’ through!

Short Ribs. Forgive me for capitalizing the r in ribs, but I feel it is completely necessary. I was so excited today because I got to make them ALL by myself! The first thing I had to do was, obviously, cut up the raw short ribs in quarters and then brown them on all 4 sides at a SUPER high heat (the oil was literally smoking and I kept questioning Dan whether or not my life was in danger).


I then took a couple big handfuls of peeled garlic cloves, smashed them, and added them to about 4 very roughly chopped onions. After all the short ribs were browned, I threw the onions and garlic in the pot along with 4 bottles of wine that I opened, added a heaping handful of thyme and rosemary and let it reduce down about 80%.

After it was reduced to almost a syrup consistency, I divided the short ribs into two pans, poured the syrup over top, filled the pans with chicken stock, wrapped them in foil, and put them into the oven to braise. FYI, I put them in around 11 o’clock and when I was leaving at 4 they STILL weren’t done. Short ribs are a very tough cut of meat that take a very long time, but please trust me, it is so worth it. They are one of those precious pieces of protein that fall apart and melt in your mouth. It’s inconceivable.

Let’s rewind back to when I said I had to reduce the wine mixture by 80%. As I was putting all the ingredients into the pot, Dan said “now I want you to reduce that to a sec….” …..”excuse me?” He replied, “go get the book.”

Here we have the Food Lover’s Companion. It has every single phrase, thought, idea, and process that may be used in any possible kitchen along with its meaning. Dan always tells me I need to get myself my own copy. Although Johnson and Wales has done a great job teaching me all the French terminology referring to cooking processes and food itself, it has not taught me restaurant terminology. Brunoise, macedoine, and parmetier are not the cuts my chef asks me to do here at Napa Valley, although he knows what they mean. It’s mince, dice, and chop. Whenever I am unsure of what Dan is asking of me I have to look it up in the book. “Reduce to a “sek”” means by 80%.

Guess what else I got to do today?! I worked the saute station on the line! It was only for about 15 minutes or so, but still, it was a great experience. I made a ziti bolognese, which consisted of me ladling homemade bolognese (meat sauce), some pomodoro sauce (tomato), basil puree, and a little chicken stock in a very hot sauce pan. As soon as it started to bubble I added a handful of ziti pasta (al dente), and then……..Dan asked me toss. No, flip. That’s right. Flip.

Let’s just say….some of the ziti decided to toast like a marshmallow. I certainly need to practice that motion because I really WANT to be great at it. Hopefully I will get it quicker than I expect to. I try to practice in my dorm when I’m toasting walnuts for my salads because I know walnuts can easily be picked up off the counter and put back into the pan. Not so much with ziti bolognese.

Here’s my final plate. I apologize for the slight blur. My hand could not stop shaking after trying so much to flip the heavy pan.

These are our Napa “Nachos”. Homemade potato chips smothered in a warm and creamy bleu cheese sauce topped with tomatoes and green onions. The bleu cheese sauce is made to order!

Here are those lovely stuffed figs again. This time, surrounding a light salad with oil and drizzled with a reduced balsamic syrup.

Here was my lovely lunch that Billy made for me. Grilled chicken, olives, tomatoes, hearts of palm, walnuts, grapes, and julienne apples in a simple oil and vinegar. It was delicious!

What’s hearts of palm? Hearts of palm is a vegetable harvested from the inner core and growing bud of certain palm trees. It’s really expensive because it means they have to chop down and kill the tree and harvesting it is a VERY laborious project.

That’s all for now…my parents are coming on Thursday I’m so excited! Then home for a couple weeks on Sunday :). Life is good.



Filed under Napa Valley Grille Internship

3 responses to “Step aside Baby Backs….Short Ribs comin’ through!

  1. mama b

    Fantastic entry. I have always wanted to know what it’s like to work in a restaurant kitchen and it’s so fun getting to peer over your shoulder as you’re working your way through it. I learn something with every entry!

  2. Pingback: Back to the old drawing board…..or in my case, cutting board. HA! « Samantha's Life in Food.

  3. Pingback: Ming Tsai’s Blue Ginger « Samantha's Life in Food.

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