London - Mar. 25, 2011 - Any creative endeavour launched in a pub is bound to be successful on some level. Some of the finest Irish writers found their inspiration in the rustic wooden booths of their local watering holes (or more likely at the bottom of a shot of whiskey or glass of brew). So could that same alchemy find its way to The Morrissey House in London? Members of 20 film crews descended upon the pub on the night of March 11 to initiate their participation in the London Fringe 62-Hour Film Contest. The contest is an annual event that requires entrants to write, shoot and edit a short film over a consecutive 62-hour period. To keep everyone honest, organizers devise a list of four criteria that must be included in everyone’s film, and the secret list is revealed to pub revelers on launch night.
I seem to be blessed with a rather creative group of friends, and when I was asked to co-cater their weekend film extravaganza on the Saturday night, I was more than happy to pair up with my friend Wendy to feed the creative genius behind their entry. It was officially still winter, and a chilly weekend at that. In keeping with the pub theme, I decided to contribute Guinness-braised beef short ribs served with tart cranberry chutney. Wendy has a gift for salads, and she served up some Soiled Reputation greens from Perth County with balsamic / garlic vinaigrette. To carry the organic ribs and spicy sauce, she also made mashed potatoes.
A slow braise is needed to tenderize the connective tissue in the beef, and your patience is rewarded with melt-in-your-mouth, tender beef that falls apart at the mere sight of a fork. While the recipe seems onerous due to the list of ingredients, I assure you it is quite simple to prepare. The chutney is an annual tradition that I tend to take to Thanksgiving or Christmas gatherings, and the heat of the ginger combined with the tartness of the cranberries is an amazing complement to the complexity and spice of the beef.
I have no way of knowing if our food had an impact on the film, but I can tell you that the crew was pretty quiet during dinner! And in the end, the film garnered “Most Original” submission.
Spring is officially upon us, and soon we will be heading into lighter fare; but while the weather still carries that lingering chill and an element of unpredictability, you may be able to squeeze in at least one more hearty meal before we welcome salmon, asparagus and other spring delights into our repertoires.
Serve the ribs with a bottle of spicy Zinfandel - a marriage made in heaven.
Tip: You can make the chutney ahead of time, and it holds up beautifully in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks. Other options of serving it are as limitless as your imagination, but roast pork and turkey are excellent candidates.
Guinness-Braised Short Ribs (serves 6)
3 to 4 pounds organic beef short ribs, cut into 3-inch pieces (1.2-1.8 kg)
Coarse salt and freshly cracked black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2-3 red chili peppers, finely chopped, or to taste
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
2 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp all spice
Pinch of cayenne pepper or more to taste
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1.5 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup apple sauce
2 tbsp fresh cilantro + sprigs for garnish
1 440ml can of Guinness stout
Preheat oven to 400F.
Rub ribs with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast until golden brown, about 1 hour. Essential: drain any excess fat from the pan.
While the ribs are roasting make the sauce. Add butter to a saucepan over medium heat. Sauté onions for 2-3 minutes or until soft. Add chili and garlic, continue to sauté for another minute. Add the thyme, paprika, cumin, allspice, bay leaf and pinch of cayenne pepper. Cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Season the mixture with salt and pepper. Add the brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, ketchup, apple cider vinegar, Dijon, apple butter and cilantro. Stir to combine. Stir in the beer.
Remove from heat and pour onto the ribs in the roasting pan. Cover with foil paper. Reduce heat to 375F. Continue to cook ribs in the oven until the meat is tender and falling off the bones, about 2.5 hours.
Serve on a bed of mashed potatoes with a dollop of the Cranberry Chutney.
Recipe adapted from original by Christine Cushing.
Cranberry Chutney with Crystallized Ginger and Dried Cherries
24 ounces apricot preserves
¾ cup raspberry vinegar, or ¾ cup white distilled vinegar plus 1 ½ tsp raspberry preserves
A pinch of salt
¼ tsp ground cloves
¼ cup Grand Marnier
2 bags fresh cranberries, nasty ones discarded
½ cup finely chopped crystallized ginger
1 ¼ cups dried tart cherries
In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the apricot preserves, raspberry vinegar (or vinegar and raspberry preserves), salt, cloves, and Grand Marnier. Stir to mix, and place over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, and continue to cook – it will bubble aggressively, and you should stir regularly to keep it from scorching – for about 10-15 minutes, or until it has thickened slightly. Reduce the heat to medium, add the cranberries, and cook until they are soft but not popped. [When you hear one or two of them pop, that’s a good indicator that most of them are ready.] Add the ginger and cherries, stir well, and remove from the heat. Cool completely before serving. The chutney will thicken considerably as it cools.
Yield: 8-10 servings
Recipe from Molly Wizenberg’s Orangette.blogspot.com/2006
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