Winter has set in all over the country with unusually cold temperatures. For me this means extra coffee and hot cocoa but lots of comforting meals too. I’m happy to try new recipes and rediscover old favorites on rainy days. Here are a few keepers. They’re great and well worth keeping in your files to make over and over again, and they are make-ahead meals that keep well in the refrigerator for days. Reheat them covered in a low heat oven (about 250 degrees) for 30 minutes.
Winter Wine Braised Short Ribs
This recipe works for a French roast or any other thick cut roasts. Follow the same instructions but you may need to cook it a little longer to cook the roast through. Use a cooking thermometer to check doneness (145 degrees for medium rare, 165-170 for well done). Note: if you don’t like to cook with fresh herbs, use 2 teaspoons dried thyme, 1 teaspoon sage, 1 teaspoon rosemary, and ½ teaspoon oregano in place of the fresh herbs.
- 12 bone-in beef short ribs
- Kosher salt and coarse black pepper
- 4 to 5 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 2 ribs celery with leafy tops, chopped
- 2 onions, chopped
- 2 to 3 tablespoons flour
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- One 750-milliliter bottle port, Bordeaux, or Cabernet
- 1 quart beef stock
- 1 cup pomegranate juice
- 10 to 12 sprigs fresh thyme
- 8 to 10 fresh sage leaves
- Four 5 to 6-inch-long stems fresh rosemary
- 2 to 3 stems fresh marjoram or fresh oregano
- 1 head garlic, halved horizontally
- 1 small handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus 3 tablespoons chopped, for garnish
- Pomegranate seeds, for garnish, optional
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Pat the meat dry and sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat and brown the meat well on all sides in 2 batches. Transfer the short ribs to a plate.
Drain off the fat from the pot and add the remaining oil. Add the carrots, celery and onions and cook until softened, 6 to 7 minutes. Stir in the flour 1 minute, then add the tomato paste and continue stirring until fragrant. Pour in the port/wine and return the ribs to the pot. Bring to boil, then lower to a simmer and reduce the port by half, about 30 minutes. Stir in the stock, pomegranate juice, thyme, sage, rosemary, marjoram, garlic and the handful of parsley. Return to a boil, then cover and place in the oven, 2 hours 30 minutes.
Transfer the beef to a platter and strain the sauce. Return the sauce to the heat to reduce and thicken a bit. Season the sauce with salt and pepper.
Serve the ribs with the sauce. Top with pomegranate seeds.
Winter Hungarian Chicken
Serves 8 – 10
- 1 teaspoon canola oil
- 4 ounces kielbasa, chopped (hot dog or Italian sausage can be a substitute)
- 2 onions, sliced
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 2 heaping tablespoons sweet Hungarian paprika
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 cup chicken broth
- ½ cup celery and leaves, chopped
- 10 chicken breast halves, on the bone, skin on
- ¼ cup flour
- 1 cup tofutti sour cream
- Kosher salt to taste
In a large skillet, heat 1 teaspoon canola oil. Add kielbasa and cooked until slightly browned all over, about 5 – 7 minutes.
Add onions and pepper to skillet and cook until the onion is soft and lightly browned, about 7 more minutes. Remove from heat and add the paprika, garlic and tomato paste. When fully incorporated add broth and celery.
Add chicken to the skillet, cover and simmer slowly over medium low heat, basting occasionally with the sauce. After 30 minutes, turn chicken pieces over, cover, and simmer until the chicken is tender, about 45 minutes more.
Remove chicken from the skillet. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and tofutti sour cream until smooth. Then add it to the sauce and mix it in. Keep the sauce warm but not boiling and add kosher salt to taste. Return chicken to sauce. Serve with rice or noodles.
Winter Couscous with Dried Cranberries, Cashews, and Orange
This couscous goes with any winter meal from roast chicken to the two included here, to grilled fish. The citrus adds flavor and warmth to the dish and the dried fruit is a hint of sweetness to the comforting and filling side dish. Can be doubled.
- ¾ cup couscous
- 1 cup chicken broth, vegetable broth or water
- Kosher salt to taste
- Grated zest of ½ orange
- 2 tablespoons orange juice
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/3 cup dried cranberries or craisins
- 1/3 cup roasted cashews, coarsely chopped (or other toasted nut of your choice)
- 2 scallions, sliced thin
Put the couscous in a medium bowl. Set aside.
In a small saucepan, bring the broth to a boil over high heat. Pour it over the couscous. Tightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand, undisturbed until the couscous is tender and flaky, about 5 minutes. Gently fluff the couscous with a fork.
In a small bowl, whisk together the zest, orange juice, maple syrup and oil. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the warm couscous. Add the cranberries, nuts, and scallions and toss again. Serve warm or at room temperature.
Winter Cinnamon Apple Pecan Bread Pudding
- 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted margarine
- 1 loaf cinnamon raisin bread torn into bite-size pieces (if you cannot find this, use a challah, torn, into pieces, and add 1 teaspoon cinnamon and ¼ cup raisins to batter)
- ½ cup brown sugar, packed
- ½ cup pecan halves
- Zest and juice of 1 large orange
- ¼ cup apple cider
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 8 small baking apples (about 2 pounds) such as Granny Smith, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
- ⅔ cup cherry or blackberry jam
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Melt margarine in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the bread and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until well coated. Add the sugar, pecans, orange zest and juice, cider, and vanilla extract (add cinnamon and raisins, if using a challah instead of cinnamon raisin bread). Cook an additional 2 to 3 minutes until a sauce begins to form.
In a 9 x 13-inch baking dish, layer the bread mixture with the apples and dot the top with the jam or jelly, beginning with bread mixture, apples, then bread and more apples. Top with jam.
Bake 30 to 40 minutes, or until bubbly. Serve with pareve ice cream, whipped cream or caramel sauce.