A couple of days ago, I was walking through my local butcher shop, Cumbrae’s, looking for some inspiration for my next dish. The entirety of their meat selection is delectable, but I came across these beef short ribs. I had to have them. I had to cook them. I had to eat them. What I was going to do with them at that point was unclear – there were a million ideas running through my head – but I knew that the ingredients would speak for themselves. After some deliberation, I decided to slow braise the beef ribs in brandy. The sweetness would balance the meat really nicely. I must admit, this is one of the best recipes I’ve made to date.

I hadn’t made anything really rustic in a while so I decided to pair the short ribs with polenta – the peasant food of all peasant food. It’s the Italian version of southern grits. Now, for those of you that have made polenta before, you’ll know it’s a real pain in the butt to make: constant stirring for 45 minutes. Now, I’ve found a way to make it with absolutely no effort at all. Intrigued? I hope so.

Ingredients

10 strips Maple Leaf Bacon

4 Beef Short Ribs

3 tbsp Olive oil

3 Leeks

3 cloves Garlic

1 cup Brandy

2 cups Beef stock

1 tbsp Tomato Paste

1 cup White wine

1 tbsp Dried Thyme

1 ½ cups Coarse ground cornmeal

2 tbsp Unsalted butter

1 cup Grated sheeps milk cheese, or equivalent sharp, hard cheese (i.e. parmigiano)

Salt and pepper

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Cut your strips of bacon into ½ inch pieces.

3. Cut the tops off your leeks and slice them in half lengthways. You’ll probably need to soak them in cold water for 15 minutes to remove the sand embedded in between the leaves.

4. On your stovetop, heat olive oil in a roasting pan. Brown the short ribs on all sides and set aside. Do this on a high heat so that you can sear the outsides, but not cook the insides.

5. Fry your bacon in the roasting pan. Remove those pieces when their crispy. We’ll save those for the polenta later.

6. Add your leeks to the roasting pan and continue to fry. Remember to keep everything moving. You don’t want anything to burn! Add your garlic when the leeks are almost completely soft. Continue to fry until garlic is sufficiently browned. Season with thyme.

7. Deglaze the pan with Brandy (just dump in the whole mickey). Add in your stock and tomato paste, as well.

8. Bring everything up to a boil, then cover the pan with foil and throw in the oven for about 1.5 – 2 hours, adding the white wine after 1 hour to replenish the liquids in the pan.

9. While the short ribs are doing their thing, work on your polenta. In an oven safe pot or casserole, mix cornmeal with 6 cups of water and 2 tbsp of butter cut into small pieces. Season with salt and generously with pepper. Throw this in the oven (on the top rack) with the short ribs for 40 minutes.

10. After 40 minutes, add your bacon and grated cheese and stir thoroughly. Put it back in the oven for an additional 10 minutes. Time this so that both the polenta and the short ribs are ready at the same time.

11. Let both the meat and the polenta rest for 10 minutes before serving. If there is a lot of juice remaining in the bottom of the roasting pan (and it’s kind of thin) you can reduce it to a thicker gravy on the stove if you want.