Hello dear hearts! It recently occurred to me that I have some wonderful friends, and it would be a damn shame and a darn waste to not request their presence on Lovely. Everyone I know has so much to offer, and I'd love for Lovely to be an exchanging ground, an ongoing virtual idea swapping party, sort of like our clothes swap!

Today I present you with Gavin and a recipe for what sounds like delicious Cider & Banyuls Braised Short Ribs. Gavin and I met in September of 2008 when he was one of two males in "Food and Society." I was utterly shocked when he approached me and pointedly told me we had been in a class together the semester previous, Islam and Politics to be exact. I am usually the one who notices people, not the other way around. From there Gavin and I became friends. We manage to stay in touch despite my graduating and his parting of ways with NYU. We're both on to bigger and better things. After graduating from the French Culinary Institute in New York the Santa Barbara native returned back to his home town (as California boys are want to do), where he is in the kitchen at The Hungry Cat. Gav, who discovered his passion for "food culture, food life, [and] cooking" in his mother's kitchen, tells me that he "like[s] discipline in the kitchen and inspiration on plates." "I think the most important thing for any cook is execution." he wrote me, "I don't care how crazy someone can get with flavors and ingredients I just care that its done right." Gavin fittingly added that his "favorite season to cook in is winter." Adding "I love winter produce. I love hearty dishes, rich warming food." I cannot wait to try out the recipe-- and maybe this winter storm is the perfect opportunity! The only thing more I could ask for would be for Gavin's expert hands to prepare the meal, and to have my dear friend to share it with. For now I'll be trying my own hand at it! Enjoy, Lovelies!

Cider & Banyuls Braised Beef Short Ribs
8 bone in beef short ribs
2 cups sugar
2 cubs salt
9 tbs Worcester sauce
5 tbs honey
3 tbs Chili flakes

Combine all the ingredients except the meat and let sit half hour. Rub the marinade over the meat taking pains to really lather it on there. Let rest over night in a fridge. Do not crowd the meat wile it marinates. Loosely packed together is ideal.

For the Braise
1 head fennel
1 Carrot
½ Onion
1 Celery
4 white mushrooms (if handy, not dire)
2 plum tomatoes
4 Garlic cloves
1 Bay leaf
A few sprigs of thyme
A hand full Cilantro stems (leaves are cool too, no need to pluck off though)
4 cups Banyuls or other fortified wine
4 cups apple cider vin.
A few table spoons vegetable. oil
6 cubs beef stock

Preheat oven to 300
Cut the vegetables down to about a one inch size. Accuracy is irrelevant.
Heat a roasting pan large enough to hold all the meat and braising liquid.
Brown the meat on all sides. You need the pan hot enough to brown the meat but take pains not to burn the “sucs” (the little bits of meat that come off while browning and stick to the pan, your flavor, yumm). Remove the meat from the pan, set aside. Degrease the pan by pouring off any fat that might have accumulated. Put the pan back on the heat and add your fennel, carrots, onion, and celery. Brown the vegetables. DO NOT rush the process. The vegetables want to sit and brown nicely, do not keep moving it around. When the vegetables are browned, degrease the pan one more time. Put back on the heat and deglaze with the alcohol. Reduce to the point just before dry, add the apple cider vinegar. Reduce by ¾. Put the meat back in the pan surrounded by the vegetables add the tomatoes, mushrooms, and herbs. Pour your hot stock over the meat. The meat should just be sticking out of the liquid. Add more stock, or water if it’s needed.
Cover tightly with lid, or aluminum foil.
Put in oven, yay! After about an hour take a peak and make sure there are little bubbles moving, popping slowly in the pan. Adjust heat accordingly. Too hot, too many bubbles the meat will get tough, none and it wont cook.
This braise takes about 6 hours (be okay with not sticking to this, many factors can make it need more or less time), I like to take a peak every two hours or so just to make sure its all working. The meats done when it is pulling away from the bones and pulls apart easily with a fork.
I like to use the braising liquid as my sauce so I remove the meat and strain the liquid. Reserve some of the liquid to keep the meat moist, while it sits. Put the liquid on the stove and bring up to a boil, skim off as much fat and oil as possible wile its coming up to temperature. Reduce the sauce by half, or when the flavor is were you want it.

2 cups Quick Grits, I like Anson Mills
1 cup whole milk
4 cups Pork stock
1/2 cup crème fraiche
5 pieces of bacon
3 jalapenos
Salt to taste

Remove seeds from jalapenos. Cut into a very small dice. Set aside. Put bacon in the bottom of a stock pot and bring the heat up. Once the bacon starts talking pour in the stock, bring to a boil, reduce to low simmer, cover and let cook together about fifteen twenty minutes. The longer it hangs out the more bacon flavor will develop the shorter… well you get the point. Add milk. Bring to a boil. Add grits, slowly, stirring constantly as you pour them in (this helps so they don’t get clumpy). Add jalapeños after seven minutes. Cook the grits at simmer for fifteen minutes. If you want them a little wetter cook them a little less, I like them thick, so I cook them for about twenty minutes., or until a lot of the moisture has evaporated. At the last minute add the crème fraiche, and season.

For service: put a healthy pile of grits in the middle of the plate, put the short rib on top of the grits. Spoon some sauce over the top of the meat. If you want to get fancy you can add a wedge of radicchio for garnish, maybe even a piece of hard cheese, (parmesan, monchego), just a thought.

Enjoy, dear readers!

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