This week’s recipe: Miso Braised Short Ribs with Pear
It’s the leeeeeeast wonderful time of the yeeeeear: Passover! Non-Jews always be like, “I love matzah, OMG!” And I be like, shut up, no one likes that shit. Still, it’s a meaningful holiday full of family and traditions…some of which are quite weird. For instance:
-Selling Passover candy: It’s actually a fairly American typical custom for schools or religious organizations to send children off to sell things to strangers in order to raise money, which is weird enough on its own, but at least those things are usually chocolate bars or wrapping paper or magazine subscriptions, which a broad audience of people might conceivably use. In our case, we went door-to-door in our apartment building to ask our neighbors if they wanted to pay $15 a piece for a box of kosher-for-Passover chocolate lollipops or Almond Kisses or, God forbid, fruit slice jellies. A surprising amount of them did, and it was actually a fun way to get know various people in the building, like the super-sweet old lady in the G line with the Jack Russell terrier who was always good for at least 50 dollars’ worth of candy. It also taught you who was to be avoided; for instance, it may not surprise you to hear that John McEnroe and Patty Smyth did not even allow me past their intercom system, those dickheads. Since my building was full of Hebrew school-aged children, though, you had to try to get to the residents before anyone else did, because everyone was selling candy even people who were charmed enough by cute kids to buy some wouldn’t necessarily be interested in buying, say, four or five times. One of these competitors was inevitably my sister, who was the best salesperson in the Hebrew school for several years running, thus winning the grand prize. The grand prize was typically something like a stereo that retailed for approximately 60 dollars at Radioshack, even though she had sold many hundreds of dollars worth of candy. It was a scam, is what I’m saying. When I have kids, I will tell them that I will buy them the stereo equivalent if it means I don’t have to buy a dozen boxes of chocolate covered mints every year.
-Bedikat Chametz: Passover is a great holiday for anyone with obsessive-compulsive tendencies. (Well, not great; I actually read today that Passover cleaning can exacerbate symptoms of OCD. As if we needed another reason to hate this holiday.) You are supposed to clean every inch of your house to make sure that there’s no chametz (bread) residue anywhere. But let’s face it, there can always be tiny crumbs hiding where you’d least expect them. So we symbolically rid ourselves of chametz through a ceremony called Bedikat Chametz, where we hide bread all over the house, then turn off the lights and go look for it. (This works a lot better when you have small children who can actually enjoy hunting for the bread, instead of pretending that you can’t find bread that you yourself hid ten minutes ago.) You do this with the aid of a candle that lights the way as you search; a feather that you use to sweep the chametz; and a spoon to catch it and put in a brown paper bag. Why you don’t just sweep it into the bag is a mystery, but this is the closest we Jews get to voodoo (Jewdoo?) and it’s pretty fun.
-The Hillel Sandwich: We are told that in the time of the Temple in Jerusalem, when people would bring a lamb as a Passover sacrifice, Rabbi Hillel would eat the lamb with matzah and maror (bitter herbs). This basically meant eating lamb shawarma and horseradish on a laffa, which sounds delicious! But today, because we sadly lack the Temple and its attendant animal sacrifice, we just eat the matzah (which has morphed into a gross, constipation-inducing cracker over the centuries) and the maror plain. You can put charoset (a yummy fruit-and-nut mixture) on it to cut the taste of the maror but my dad will call you a wimp. I do it anyway.
There’s so much else that’s weird about Passover. It’s a holiday that’s ostensibly about freedom, but the preparations for it feel more like slavery. It’s been noted before how paradoxical it is that Jews who are otherwise very lax in their observance tend to get maniacal about Yom Kippur and Passover, arguably the two hardest holidays to observe. People who were eating a bacon and cheese sandwich yesterday will now eat bacon and cheese…on matzah, because bread is of course forbidden. My point is, Passover is weird because Jews are weird. Chag sameach to all who are celebrating!
So anyway, here are some ribs. They’re not kosher for Passover (kitniyot, grrrr!) but they are tender and tasty! The pear is such an unexpected delight and the miso adds a delicious note of umami. Am I doing this right? I dunno, I’m just trying to get in all my yummies before this dumb holiday starts.
Miso Braised Short Ribs with Pear
From My Lavender Blues
- 2 tbsp ghee (Note: to keep it kosher I used coconut oil)
- 2 tbsp Kosher Salt
- 2 tbsp Coarse black pepper
- 3 lb bone in short ribs
- 2 heads of garlic (about 10-12 garlic cloves, whole)
- 6 shallots, quartered
- 1 cup red wine
- 24 oz beef stock (lower sodium)
- 3 tbsp miso paste
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp white pepper
- ¼ tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground ginger
- 4 fresh Marjoram Sprigs
- 2 pears, sliced into ¼” slices
- Remove short ribs from fridge and generously sprinkle kosher salt & black pepper over every side, pat with hand and then allow to rest for about 15 minutes.
- In a large oven proof dutch or heavy bottom pot add your ghee and bring heat up to medium high over stove top.
- Next once ghee is melted and has begun to heat up (give it about 2 minutes) add your short ribs and brown on every side, about 45 seconds/side.
- Remove short ribs and set aside.
- Next add your shallots and garlic, saute for about 2 minutes.
- Next add your wine and after about 20 seconds, using a wooden spoon, scrape bottom of pan (this will help remove any browning that was left from short ribs and help bring more flavor into broth).
- Add your stock and bring to a low boil
- Add miso paste, garlic powder, white pepper, cinnamon and ground ginger. Stir.
- Add your short ribs and fresh marjoram sprigs.
- Turn off heat and place covered into oven for about 2.5 hours, turning ribs halfway through.
- When ribs are basically done, add your pear slices 20 minutes before you are ready to serve.
- Continue to cook for about 20 minutes, remove from oven and serve over arugula, potatoes, polenta, with a pasta, however you desire.