Wine, Food & Friends: Part Uno/Un

On Cinco de Mayo, I had some friends over for dinner.  One half of the dinner party invitees were big wine fans.  Wait, aficionados.  Now I ❤️ Mexican food, but sometimes it can be hard to pair with wine.  So, French food would have been a better choice.  But we must honor the holiday… what to do.

Wikipedia promptly informed me that Cinco de Mayo is observed to commemorate the Mexican Army’s unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862. Well isn’t that a lucky victory (for me and General Ignacio Zaragoza).  Allow me to introduce you to Frexican Food. Well spiced, wine appropriate. The General would be proud.

Frexican Short Ribs with Green Chile Polenta

Frexican Short Ribs

  • 8-10 dried New Mexico chiles
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • 2 Tbsp cinnamon
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 bottle red wine (bonus points if it’s from 🇲🇽 or 🇫🇷 )
  • 4 limes, juiced
  • 1 stick butter
  • 7 lbs short ribs
  • 3 carrots, chopped into large pieces
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped into large pieces
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 10 garlic cloves
  • 4 bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper

Overnight: Cover the chile peppers with 3 1/2 c water in a bowl to rehydrate. The next day, remove the tops and seeds. Save the water.

Sauce: In a blender combine chile peppers (without the seeds), tomato paste, cinnamon, chile water, 1/2 bottle of wine, and lime juice.  Pulse until the chile peppers are puréed.

Cook:  Sprinkle ribs with salt and pepper. Melt the butter in a large Dutch Oven over medium high heat. Working in batches, brown the short ribs for about 4-5 minutes. Don’t over crowd the pot so they brown, not boil.  Once all ribs are browned, deglaze the pot with the remaining 1/2 bottle of wine. Add the sauce and stir to combine.  Place a layer of short ribs on the bottom of the pan, then add a layer of the carrots, celery, onion garlic and bay leaves. The add the remaining short ribs to the pot in another layer. Allow the sauce to come to a simmer and reduce the heat to low.  Simmer for 3-4 hours. (*). Remove the ribs from the sauce and plate on a plate. Remove all the vegetables and place in a blender with some of the sauce.  Be careful not to pick up a bone in your blender. Purée until smooth. Add the purée to the pot and stir.  Returns the ribs to the pot to cover. Return the sauce to a simmer. Serve over polenta or white rice.

Serves 8-10.

(*) Bonus! You can make these ahead and reheat! If making ahead, cook the ribs for 2.5 -3 hours, then remove from the heat, finish the sauce and refrigerate. Reheat for an hour on the stove top before serving.

Green Chile Polenta

  • 2 c Polenta or Grits
  • 8 c water
  • 2 small cans green chiles
  • 3 ears of corn, shucked and kernels removed
  • 2 tsp salt & pepper
  • 1 1/2 c Mexican blend shredded cheese (or cheddar)

In a large pot, add the Polenta or Grits, salt, pepper and water and bring to a simmer. Add the green chiles and corn and cook for 45 minutes until soft and creamy, stirring occasionally. Add the cheese just before serving, and stir to melt.

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