Fall Short Rib Bento

Three Day Shortribs. I know it's a repeat of a former bento but I didn't name that one three day shortrib err. oh wait.. well nevermind, better come up with a new title. Anyhow, it's been a while and I don't believe my current crop of bento-ers have had the chance the taste possibly the most wonderful thing that can come out of my sous vide machine. Outside of the fact that I wanted to do my short ribs again, the inspiration for the bento is the nice cool weather we've been having, it makes you wanna have something that hearty and "sticks to your ribs" if you'll allow for the pun. Besides, Thanksgiving is around the corner and I wanted to test out this sweet potato dish. So um. Fall Short Rib bento it is! I promise to work on more cohesive themes.

Three day short rib, what's there really to say? It's meat, lots and lots of meat slowly cooking for three solid days in a water bath. Why three? It's some sort of magic number. See one day just isn't enough. Two days is tasty. Three is like eating a little piece of heaven. Actually, just because I'm that obsessive about "knowing for sure" I ran a test of three batches starting each one day after the other until I had a sample of three to taste side by side. Two days is nice, but three days is a must if you have the time. What's that short rib doing in those three days? Well to answer that question you need to know a little bit more about the beef short rib. That particular cut of meat contains a lot of fat and connective tissue. These types of meats tend to be considered the "cheap cuts" (well once up on a time), stuff like flank steak, shanks, and short ribs. Why cheap? The various cuts have lots of connective tissue which, if not treated properly, produces a very tough and chewy end dish. So what's a cook to do? Well you have two options, cut the meat thin and cook it on high heat fast or keep it in large hunks and cook it low and slow. Let's take the short rib, you can get the "flanken cut" which if you think of a row of connected ribs is a slice off the top then you cook that fast as you would with Gal-Bi (Korean short rib barbeque). Still kinda chewy but, it's such a small cut that it's a tiny bite size not like trying to chew down a brick of meat. On the other hand, as in the case I did today with the "English cut" single rib, you can cook it really slow. What this does is apply a gentle heat that slowly lets the connective tissue break down and turn into a more gelatin state and let the liquids of the fat and the "meat gelatin" (ok I could come up with a tastier word) to really moisten up the cut of meat. I finished this off by searing the outside so you get the nice brown outside caramelized effect. This usually produces a lot of smoke and oil hence doing it outside on my butane portable stove.

I wanted a nice carb-y side dish without it being a empty carb like potatoes. I settled on this Creamy Truffle Quinoa. If you've read my blog you must know about my obsession with Quinoa. It's a great nutritious grain and an easy substitute for rice. The original recipe called for mint, but I decided to go with fresh basil because it felt a little more "right", besides the two plants are from the same family so it's not that far of a stretch. I cut down on the amount of butter and Parmesan, had to do my part to lighten things up a bit after the big short rib. I got multiple kudos on this dish everyone really enjoyed it. As usual I used a stock (in this case vegetable) to cook with the quinoa, it infuses the quinoa with a lot more flavor and you can effectively skip any need for salt. A lot of places that I've had quinoa seem to cook it like rice and simply use water, I find the resulting dish to be very bland and tasteless.

Since I already had my SousVide Supreme out for the short ribs, I put together a few packets of broccoli and roasted bell pepper while the beef was resting. I put in a bit of butter, the left over parmesan, and garlic. I love the flavor of the dish, since you don't lose flavors to a pan or cooking liquid the taste is very "bright" or jumps out at you. The only downside to this preparation is that the broccoli turned a bit yellow on me. I was quite surprised because I didn't experience this same problem with either the peas or beans I've done in the past with the SVS. I'll have to do a bit more research to understand where it went wrong.

Finally, I decide no on dessert but I did do something a little sweet and fall-ish and this recipe from A Veggie Venture past thru my blog reader: Sweet Potato with Cranberries. It looked nice and easy and fit the whole Fall cold weather theme I was going with. I opted to cut the butter and sugar in half and I got the comment that I could have gone even lower on the sugar. This is definitely a super simple dish I intend on serving for my holiday party coming up. I'm glad I chose to do the test run on this bento

I'm not sure if I'll have any more bentos for the year (maybe one) Thanksgiving is right around the corner shortly after I'm off to Taiwan to visit family then we run right into Christmas. I'm sure they'll be some food adventures in Taiwan, so I'll probably post some stuff from there. So just in case I don't get to post, Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Holidays!

Box Contents:
  • Three Day Beef Short Rib
  • Creamy Truffle Quinoa
  • Broccoli with Roasted Bell Pepper and Parmesan
  • Cranberry and Orange Sweet Potatoes


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