Chosen Bites: Homey hearty recipes

This week, Chef Laura Frankel brings you delicious kosher recipes for short ribs and a side of smashed squash.

squash 311 (photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
squash 311
(photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Autumn is all about warm and comforting homey meals. It is my favorite time of the year because my family, friends and clients are actually hungry. No more summer dainty appetites! I love preparing earthy-robust flavored dishes. Short ribs are a family favorite. There aren’t many short rib preparations that I haven’t enjoyed. This versatile, tasty cut of beef gives us everything you can ask for in beef. You get marbled beef, bones for flavor, and the benefit a long, slow braise which makes the ribs tasty and especially succulent. Ask your butcher for “English cut” short ribs. This cut tends to be tender and makes a better presentation. (The other common cut for short ribs is “flanken cut,” which is great in soups and stews.)
Ingredients ✔5 pounds beef short ribs✔Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper✔Olive oil✔3 tablespoons fresh thyme✔2 tablespoons fresh rosemary✔ ¼ cup all-purpose flour✔3 celery stalks, chopped✔2 large Spanish onions, chopped✔3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped ✔1 medium fennel bulb✔6 garlic cloves, chopped✔2 cups red wine such as Cabernet Sauvignon✔3 tablespoons tomato paste✔3 cups homemade or canned chicken stock ✔Bouquet garni of 1 bay leaf✔6 thyme sprigs✔6 parsley stems sprigs✔1 rosemary sprig tied together with kitchen twine
Instructions1. Place the short ribs in a large stockpot filled with water and bring to a boil. Boil the short ribs for 5 minutes. Drain and discard the water. (This helps remove the fat).
2. Pat dry the ribs thoroughly with a paper towel. Season the ribs with salt and pepper.
3. Combine the thyme, rosemary and flour in a bowl
4. Place a large sauté pan over medium heat. Lightly coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil. Dredge the ribs in the flour mixture. Brown the ribs in batches until the ribs are browned on all sides, about 15 minutes. Transfer the ribs to the slow cooker insert or Dutch oven.
5. Pour off most of the fat from the sauté pan. Brown the celery, onions, carrots, and fennel in batches, about 7 minutes per batch. Season each batch with salt and pepper. Add the garlic to the last batch and cook for 3 minutes more, until the garlic is very fragrant and slightly softened. Do not overbrown the garlic.
6. Transfer the browned vegetables to the insert for the slow cooker or Dutch oven. Add the wine and the tomato paste to the sauté pan with the tomato paste. Stir together with a wooden spoon or spatula to break up the tomato paste. Gently scrape the pan to gather up the browned bits
7. Transfer the wine to the insert. Add the stock and bouquet garni. Cover and cook on Low for 10 hours or if cooking in an oven cook in a covered Dutch oven at 300 for 3 hours.
8. Remove the short ribs from the insert or Dutch oven and place them on a platter. Tent loosely with foil to keep them warm. Pour the braising liquid through a fine-mesh strainer into a saucepan. Discard the vegetables and bouquet garni. Skim the fat off the liquid. Reduce over high heat by one half, or until the liquid is thick and coats the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes. Pour the sauce over the ribs.
Adapted from my book JEWISH SLOW COOKER RECIPES (John Wiley and Sons)
The bright orange squash and fresh herbs are the perfect complement for the rich short ribs. This healthy and low fat side dish is delicious with poultry, beef or sautéed vegetables. The squash can be made 2 days ahead of serving. Top with toasted pumpkin seeds, dried cranberries or fresh herbs. 
Ingredients ✔4 cups peeled, seeded, and diced winter squash such as butternut, acorn or pumpkin✔1 cup Chicken Stock ✔One 2- to 3-inch cinnamon stick✔Olive oil✔Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper✔1/4 cup shallots, finely chopped (about 6 medium shallots)✔1 finely minced garlic clove✔Grated zest of 1 orange✔1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg✔2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage✔2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley✔2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
Instructions1.    Place the squash, cinnamon stick and chicken stock in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook the squash until it is very soft (about 20 minutes). Remove the cinnamon stick and mash the squash with a potato masher (do not worry if there are lumps in your smashed squash-this is supposed to be rustic) and set aside.
2.    Place a large sauté pan over medium heat. Lightly coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil. Sauté the shallots until they are very soft and lightly caramelized (about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and continue cooking for an additional 2 minutes.
3.    Add the squash to the pan and the remaining ingredients. Stir to combine. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.
Chef Laura Frankel is Executive Chef for Spertus Kosher Catering featuring Cuisine by Wolfgang Puck. Founder of the adventurous, gourmet kosher Shallots restaurants in Chicago and New York and author of Jewish Cooking for All Seasons, and JEWISH SLOW COOKER RECIPES .