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Pars Market, Short Ribs, Ratatouille, Quinoa, Weinstock Zinfandel

On the week of September 16th we were hunkering down with the New Year, and guests, coming up. So, we bought some lovely flanken short ribs (ribs cut against the bone, not with it) at the new kosher market (Pars Market) here in San Jose. We have spoken a few times about what short ribs are versus flanken versus English cut ribs. No matter the name, the product and the way to cook it is the same, simple – SLOW AND LOW! I am almost done with my cache of bad whiskey (yes we covered this in the past), but no matter the product, as long as it has a hickory or oak taste the whiskey will be a good medium to slow cook your ribs. Why? Because hickory or oak meld well with brown sugar and spices to make a killer, yet simple, braise for the ribs. Also, though our old recipe calls browning off each and every riblet, that can be very tiring, and can take a ton of time. Instead, I saw a new episode of America’s Test Kitchen and in it they “roasted” the riblets in the oven and the riblets were nicely browned and their fat was rendered, thereby assuring that the slow cook braise will comprise more of sweet alcohol goodness and less of nasty grease.

As wonderful as chunks of soft and flavorful meat is, it still needs a good side dish, and we once again raided our garden for some tomatoes, zucchini, and eggplant to make a killer ratatouille! This may well be one of the last for the year, as the summer has been a cool one, like last year, so many of the tomatoes are not ripe and we have to use what we have. The good news is that we had enough fresh tomatoes and zucchini, but the eggplant harvest this week was low, so we needed to buy some at the store to augment the low supply. The meat’s rich and flavorful sauce blended perfectly with the rich and vibrant ratatouille, all over a bed of earthy quinoa, what a combo!

To pair these wonderful dishes we went for some wine that normally delivers, one with power and finesse, but this time it was more of a one note loser than a harmonious orchestra. The wine starts off with way too much wild berry and not enough other goodness. Over time the wine popped out of its funk, but that took a fair amount of time. The real shock though was that this 2003 Weinstock Zin was alive and kicking. If the wine was not so unbalanced to start – I would have pronounced this the best Zin of the year, outside of the one I had at Dalton.

The wine note follows below:

2003 Weinstock Cellars Zinfandel Kosher Lodi – USA, California, Central Valley, Lodi – Score: B++
The nose on this dark garnet to black colored wine starts first and foremost with wild berry smell that is overpowering, along with rich with oak, chocolate, black pepper, tobacco, blackberry, plum, and dirt. After the wild berries finally give way, the nose takes on a lovely complexion of espresso coffee, chocolate, roast meat, nice tannin, and dirt. The mouth on this medium bodied wine follows the nose at first totally over matched by the wild berry flavor, along with plum, blackberry, and red fruit. The mid palate is balanced with nice acid, oak, integrated tannin, and chocolate. The finish is spicy and long with chocolate, tobacco, black pepper, and wild berry. As the wild berry finally subsides the wine opens to more espresso coffee, tobacco, chocolate, black pepper, vanilla, and plum. The wild berry truly makes the wine feel unbalanced at times which is the shame. That said, I was truly shocked that this mevushal wine was even drinkable. The cork on the bottle was stuck, but this bottle was in no way corked or oxidized, which is impressive.

Tzora Judean Hills and Bone Licking Good Short Ribs

This past weekend saw us enjoying some really nice food and wine.  We were in the mood for a nice cut of meat and so, we dipped into the freezer and pulled out some of my wife’s favorite cuts of meat – short ribs (or ribs in general).  Now ribs and short ribs really have nothing in common, short of the name.  Short ribs come in two styles as explained here, flanken which is cut against the bone, so a strip of flanken comes with many small pieces of bone, and the riblet is cut along the bone and is more akin to a rib.  Short ribs are not particularly short; they are called as such because of where they come from – the short plate.

Short ribs are a hard and tough piece of meat and love being braised.  We started the braise by browning the riblets, and then we removed them from the dutch oven, and sautéed a mirepoix in the rendered fat.  After that I deglazed the pot with red wine and a thick and meaty sauce of liqueur, brown sugar, and onion base.  I brought the pot to a boil and then transferred the pot to a 350 degree oven for two hours.

The meat was fantastic, but like all cuts of meat from the lower section of the cow that is riddled with connective tissue, intercostal muscles, and tons of collagen, the meat needs to be cooked low and slow and left overnight to cool.  The next morning you want to skim the fat from the pot, strain the sauce, and thicken it.  Reheat the meat inside the sauce and serve right away.

We served them over a bed of firm rice.  This is not a classical match, but we were in the mood, and the sauce was a bit watery, so the pairing went along quite nicely.

We paired the meat with a nice red wine blend from the Tzora winery.  I have blogged about this particular wine before and it has pretty much stayed the same, except that this time I noticed a nice roasted herb in the nose and finish.  Also, the wine stood up to the meat and the rich sauce, which impressed me and once again, the price to value ratio of this wine sticks out from the prices of kosher wines now a days.

Tzora Judean Hills 2006 – Score: B++
The nose on this bright garnet colored wine is filled with earth, blackberry, cherry, raspberry, and roasted herbs. The mouth on this medium to full bodied wine starts with blackberry, raspberry, and herbs. The mid palate is highlighted with acidity, integrated tannins, and coffee. The finish is medium long with spice, coffee, and more tannin.

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