Actually, the full name of this recipe is: Braised Short Ribs of Beef with Mascarpone Polenta, Sauteed Wild Mushrooms, Crispy Brussel Sprout Leaves and Cabernet Sauvignon Sauce, and no, I have not lost my mind. Some of you may remember that I had the good luck to be invited to photograph our local library’s first Meet The Chef event last summer, and I guess I did okay because they invited me back.
This time the chef was Executive Chef Adam Weiss from the wonderful Esty Streetrestaurant in Park Ridge, New Jersey. A place that has a soft spot in my heart because the romantic Southern husband and I have been known to celebrate our anniversary there. So I knew from happy experience that the food was going to be ROCKING.
Adam is a guy who likes his work, and is not afraid of getting down into it in front of a hungry audience with a serious piece of BEEF.
And a whole raft of other ingredients that he very neatly arranged on his workspace.
Adam started by salting the beef, and I do mean salting. Salting is one of a couple of themes that run throughout this recipe. Adam has now convinced me that enthusiastic salting is one of the roads to happiness in life. He salted that baby up and put it in a big old pan with some sizzling oil, and moved on to…
The veggies. Gorgeous big carrots and lots of onion. Which he cut up in that lightening fast dramatic onion-chopping way that I remember seeing in the movie Julie and Julia, and that I have never been able to do at home. I think it is a secret chef school trick. But I do love to watch it in action.
Next came garlic. Lots and lots of garlic. I love garlic ALMOST as much as I love bacon.
That is a bucket of Cabernet Sauvignon going in there. By now the room was smelling, um, good.
Pouring was another theme of this particular event. There was a lot of pouring. Adam was a very serious pourer. I think that is veal stock that is going in there now. At this point I was in a state of mesmerized anticipation so I am not totally sure.
So now that the beef and the Cabernet sauce are cooking away, Adam started the mascarpone polenta. More pouring and lots of whisking.
And the sauteeing of the mushrooms at the same time.
See, here is why things like this are best handled by professionals. Polenta stirring with his right hand. Mushroom-shaking with his right hand. I was getting dizzy just watching.
That is salt going into the polenta, baby. So at this point we are all at a state of beef and wine and polenta-induced excitement. Things are bubbling and steaming and sizzling and the room smells like heaven on earth and you can hear stomachs growling in unison all over the room. And then….
Adam goes and terrifies all of us by hauling out the brussel sprouts.
But that Adam, he is a tricky one. He talked to us in a calm and soothing voice while he cut the cores out of each of those forbidding little sprouts….
Then he separated the leaves off of each one….
And then, my friends, he fried those little brussel sprout leaves until they were golden and crispy….
And then he drained them on a bed of paper towels. And sprinkled them with…say it with me…SALT. And lo and behold! he converted an entire room into brussel sprout fans, before my very eyes.
I’m still getting used to the fact that I now like brussel sprouts. I like them! I really, really like them! As long as they are peeled and fried and salted. I mean, I haven’t completely lost my mind.
At this point the audience was getting ready to rush the stage. The meat was tender and succulent and burbling away in its bath of Cabernet Sauvignon and carrots and onions and mushrooms. Adam had stirred endless amounts of creamy mascarpone cheese into the polenta. I don’t need to remind you that there was a heaping dish of crispy, salty brussel sprout leaves. It was time to dish it out.
A bed of polenta.
Some tender beef and vegetables…
Pour some of the rich wine sauce on top….
Garnish it with some brussel sprout leaves. (Can I have a few extra on mine, Adam??)
And just to make your head explode, a drizzling of truffle oil.
I am speechless.
Speechless, I tell you.
Then came the happiest part of the night as Adam dished out perfect little plates of it for all of us…
Yes, we were a happy, brussel-sprout-loving bunch that night.
So if you are ever in or around Northern New Jersey and looking for a memorable meal, go see the great folks at Esty Street. These two gentlemen are Phil and Kim – I had to photograph them in black and white because they are just so elegant and charming.
They own the place and have not only made sure that they have an incredible executive chef (Adam, you rock!) but have also decorated the restaurant in a way that will make you want to move in.
Fireplace at the bar..
Cozy tables for two…
I’m going. I’m going NOW. Kim, can you have my table waiting?
And for you brave souls who want to try this at home, here is the recipe, with thanks to the amazing Adam Weiss and my friends at Esty Street.
BRAISED SHORT RIBS OF BEEF WITH MASCARPONE POLENTA, SAUTEED WILD MUSHROOMS, CRISPY BRUSSEL SPROUT LEAVES and CABERNET SAUVIGNON SAUCE
Braised Beef Short Ribs