Soul-satisfying short ribs

January 7, 2009 1:11:17 PM PST
Escape the snow and cold this week by tucking into some hearty, familiar comfort food. ABC7's Hungry Hound has found a couple of soul-satisfying dishes this week, beginning with short ribs.Comfort food can be defined many ways. Some would say mashed potatoes or chicken soup. While others would claim meatloaf or pot pie make them feel warm and satisfied. This week, the Hungry Hound has found two ways to stay filled up and satisfied. He begins in the Loop, at a legendary location where they're making use of short ribs in two delicious ways.

Only braising - that method of slow, moist cooking - can transform a tough hunk of short rib into something soft and tender, and utterly satisfying. At Lockwood, the restaurant tucked into the side of the lobby at the Palmer House Hilton, the humble short rib is braised all winter long.

"Something about braised dishes in general that allows - gets more under your skin, more than just your tummy, and it warms the bones, it just makes you think of home and sitting around a nice fireplace," said Phillip Foss, the Chef at Lockwood.

He begins by liberally seasoning both sides with salt and pepper, then placing the short rib into a blazing hot pot coated with oil; after a few minutes per side, the meat is removed, and an assortment of hardy, fall vegetables goes into the pot. Carrots and celery root of course.. both of which will cook in those juices until caramelized. Then some cippolini onions.. and while those veggies cook, he makes a mulled red wine: besides sugar, he adds star anise, juniper berries and a bay leaf; that wine is strained and added to the veggies, and will simmer and reduce over medium heat. The rib goes back in, then he adds rich veal stock to the pot, but he says if you make it at home, that's not necessary.

"The nice thing about braising as well is the liquid comes out of the short ribs, so you can flavor that, just even use water in place, and you'll still come out with a nice sauce."

With the rib partially covered in parchment paper, it goes into the oven for a few hours, until the muscle tissue has broken down. Sliced on the cutting board, the hunks of short rib are then cooked in a skillet with those pan juices. At lunch, he'll place those slices on sturdy pretzel bread, topped with some horseradish creme fraiche, peppercress and pomegranates; at dinner, the bone-in short rib is plated with those root vegetables, topped with the same creme fraiche and then crispy parsnip chips. The real show-stopper: herbed tea is poured into a seasonal vase embedded with dry ice: the resulting aromas are wafted out over the table, mingling with the deeply-intense, braised short rib.

"They're gonna be able to satisfy the soul, not just the stomach."

Again, the short rib sandwich is only available at lunch.. While the bone-in version is offered during dinner service.

Palmer House Hilton

17 E. Monroe St.