When I found out that my good and dear friends from college were visiting us here from Boston and Philly, I was overjoyed. Finally being presented with the opportunity to cook for my friend Kerry whose been bugging me for a dinner since I started posting food pics on Facebook years ago, I was elated. When she told me she was bringing seven friends with her, I freaked the geek out.
So, what does the intrepid, ambitious home cook do when a dinner balloons into a circus? Does he give up, no! Does she whine and complain? No! Do they resort to baked ziti? NO! You take the fight to the enemy. When life gives you lemons, you throw a lemony party.
What I needed was an anchor. I accepted the challenge without a solid plan, I mean, I always have some party faves in my back pocket, but these are largely of the spread and dip variety. Great fodder, but not superstars. I was watching something on TV, I don’t remember what, maybe Top Chef, I’m not sure, but I saw people eating braised meat while standing. [Ed.–Yes, it was Top Chef–I believe Kevin was braising something.] And that was that.
I decided to make a whole mess of braised beef ribs, the notion being if I cooked them long enough, they’d be easier to eat than chips and guac. I found a very simple braise prep similar to what I’d use on veal or lamb, just some sweated aromatics, beef stock and a bottle o’red wine. Browning the many, many ribs took a while so I started the night before and got three good hours in before bedtime. The next day I took the lid off and finished it for another hour or two on the cooktop. The ribs came out tender and delicious and no one needed much more than a fork to completely wipe them out. Folks seemed happy and when my guests are happy, I am too. More on this party in the coming posts. Until then, readers, cook on!