I really can't say that the Hallmark holiday is something I ever look forward to. Sure, I'd gladly accept a dozen red roses from my main squeeze on February fourteenth but I'd just assume he surprises me with a few giant sunflowers on any random day of the week. I'm not really into boxed chocolates either. I mean, unless I'm handed a custom-made box from a local chocolatier, the generic caramel and cream stuffed cushions of sugar always disappoint. And the much-anticipated valentines date-night dinner? Well that sucks too. Crowds of people wearing red and pink all over combined with the worst service of the year... I'll gladly pass on that unnecessary chaos.
Did I mention my birthday falls 3 days before the cheesy love-fest? Yeah...so there's that too. Why celebrate Valentine's Day when I'm still milking my own special day three days after the fact?
But if I were to acknowledge cupid's holiday, I'd definitely do it in the comforts of home, with a lavish homemade gourmet dinner, and lots....and lots of vino. So when Alamos Wine approached me a few months ago about participating in their "Daring Pairing" challenge, I knew I'd be preparing a decadent dinner specifically for those couples who appreciate a cozy and quiet date night in.
Alamos Wine presented yours truly with their smooth and dark Argentian Malbec and asked that I pair the bold wine with a meal equally daring in flavor and flair. I wanted to be adventurous but also wanted to prepare a dish that would simply wow my fiancé. So after some serious thought that included lots of salivating, I decided on Short-rib Ragu served atop Truffled Gorgonzola Papardelle.
I must admit, I never made braised short-rib before now. Both nervous and excited, I was skeptical with whether I'd pull it off. The pasta was the easy part. Knowing I just had to have fresh-made pasta, I bought some pasta sheets from Whole Foods and cut them to pappardelle size myself. Well, dare I say it? I pulled off this insanely indulgent dinner like a rock star and Chris can vouch for that. The sharp and creamy gorgonzola with a perfect hint of earthy and rich truffle oil made sweet love to the fall-apart moist and oh so tasty short-rib ragu. It was a dinner we'll never forget and a dinner I will most certainly make again...
***We also sautéed mushrooms and garlic with some of the ragu sauce. Yet, we both agreed this add-on wasn't necessary.
Braised Short Rib Ragu over Truffled Gorgonzola Pappardelle
For the short rib ragu:
2-3 pounds short ribs
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 sprigs fresh thyme, tied up with butchers twine
1 sprig fresh rosemary, tied up with butchers twine
1 bay leaf
5-7 garlic cloves, peeled
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 cup Alamos Malbec, or another bold red wine
2 cups beef broth
2 tablespoons flour
salt and pepper
For the Truffled Gorgonzola Pasta:
1 pound fresh-made pappardelle (or any fresh/dried pasta of your choice)
1/2 cup Gorgonzola
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon flour
1 tablespoon butter
1-2 teaspoons white truffle oil (depending on how much you love the stuff)
salt and pepper
chives, finely chopped (for presentation)
1) Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
2) Bring 2 tablespoons olive oil to medium-high heat in a Dutch oven or large oven-safe casserole. Generously salt and pepper the short-ribs and then sear on all sides in the oil. Remove short-ribs from heat and set aside.
2) Add 1 tablespoon olive oil to the casserole and bring to heat. Then, add the celery, carrots, and onions. Sauté until softened, about 10 minutes. Now, add the flour and the tomato paste to the pan, thoroughly coating all of the veggies. Next, add the wine, scrapping up all of the brown bits. Using an immersion blender, lightly blend all of the veggies (or remove from casserole and blend in processor and add back to casserole). Reduce heat to low and let wine and veggies simmer for 15 minutes. Add the beef broth, thyme, rosemary, and bay leaf and simmer for another 10 minutes.
3) Return the short ribs to the casserole. Cover and place in the oven for 3 hours or until fork tender.
4) Remove the short ribs from the oven and put on a burner, uncovered, on medium-low heat. Stir ragu sauce occasionally.
5) Meanwhile, prepare the pasta. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. If using dried pasta, add the pasta to the boiling water now. If you're using fresh pasta, hold off until the Gorgonzola cream sauce is almost ready.
6) In a medium saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon butter on medium heat. When completely melted, whisk in the flour with a fork until combined into a roux. Stir and simmer roux for 1 minute. Warm the heavy cream in the microwave for about 45 seconds so that it's lukewarm (this way it's tempered and will make for a smooth sauce). Add cream to the roux and whisk for 2 minutes. Salt and pepper the sauce and then begin slowly adding the Gorgonzola in small pieces (or crumbles) at a time. Stir constantly. Taste test the sauce and make sure you don't want more Gorgonzola (taste preference).
7) If using fresh pasta, add it to the boiling water at this time. It should only take 3 minutes to cook until al dente. If using dried, remove from pot and drain at this time.
8) Once pasta is drained, return to its original pot and pour the Gorgonzola cheese sauce on top. Also add the 2 teaspoons truffle oil. Toss until all of the pasta is coated with sauce.
9) Remove short ribs along with some of the ragu mixture from casserole and place on a cutting board. Quickly pull meat from the bone. Plate the pasta and top with braised short-rib ragu. Sprinkle with chives.