Gray skies, cold breezes and long nights are my jam. Needless to say I thrive in the winter.
It’s not just the environmental elements that invigorate me during this time of the year. It’s how I “dress up” these long nights that I love: warm food, full bodied wines and conversations that linger well after dinner.Colder months and Cabernet go hand-in-hand. This bold tannic red stands up with the warm, rich dinners that we are all craving (and cooking) during this season. When I am searching for the perfect bottle to pair with a robust, comforting meal during the winter (and while I cook!) — I go for a Cabernet from Napa Valley.Cabernet Sauvignon wines are classic favorites—especially those from Napa Valley. The Cabs from Napa Valley are unique due to the Napa Valley’s climate and soil. These Cabernets offer a well-rounded and refined taste like no other New World variety. Needless to say, I am a Napa Valley Cabernet fan.
One of my goals this year is to incorporate more slow meals into our routine. My son calls it “fancy family,” but I call it something else— bliss.Our most recent family dinner was on a cold dark night. We lit candles, set the table to the nines and opened a bottle of Napa Valley Cabernet. This blustery evening was perfectly matched for Red Wine Braised Short Ribs with Gorgonzola Polenta Medallions that was paired with a bold, full-bodied Cabernet.
During these types of dinners, we give ourselves permission to go slow which opens the door to conversation and appreciation of everything that makes up the meal. It’s not just what is on our plates that makes the dinner memorable, it’s what happens around the table that makes these long evenings so worthwhile.Cabernet for the adults and Shirley Temples for the children, we toasted our dinner before we tucked into a plateful of goodness.
A comforting meal paired with a big Cab has a warming effect; the night becomes brighter—complete with full bellies and lively conversation.
Our dinner lasted for 2 hours that evening. As I cleared away the dishes, I noticed two things that brought me deep satisfaction. Not only would there be plenty of leftovers for short rib sandwiches the next day, but also, most importantly, there were content smiles on my loved ones’ faces. I knew the evening was a success.
It was then that I noted, cold weather season may be Cab Season, but “Fancy Family” season is year-round.
Red Wine Braised Short Ribs with Gorgonzola Polenta Medallions
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 pounds bone-in short ribs
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 carrots, diced
1/2 shallots, diced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 cups dry red wine
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 bay leaves, torn in half
1 tablespoon flour
polenta medallions, see recipe below
- 30 minutes before cooking, remove the meat from the fridge.
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
- With 2 teaspoons of salt, evenly season the short ribs on all sides.
- In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over high on the stove top. Once hot, add the short ribs and brown for 2-3 minutes per side, for a total of 4-6 minutes, and set aside. This should be done in 2 batches.
- Lower the heat to medium low and remove the Dutch oven from the heat. Add the shallots, carrots garlic and tomato paste to the pan. Continue to cook off the heat for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally
- Add the Dutch oven back to the stove top. Add the wine and deglaze the pan. Once the brown bits are scraped from the pan, add dijon, worcestershire, bay leaves and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Mix well.
- Place the short ribs back into the Dutch oven. Add more wine if needed to submerge the short ribs halfway.
- Bring the liquid to a boil, cover the Dutch oven, and place it in the oven. Cook for 2 ½ to 3 hours, or until the short ribs are tender. Remove from the Dutch oven and place onto a cutting board. Cover with foil. Let rest for 10 minutes.
- Place the pan back onto the cooktop. Bring the remaining liquid to a simmer. Whisk in the flour and let simmer for 5 minutes, or until thickened.
- Remove the meat from the bone. Shred or chop the short ribs. Place a spoonful of pan sauce onto the polenta crisps, then add the short ribs. Top with gorgonzola and chopped parsley.
for the Polenta Medallions
Author note: It takes several hours for the polenta to “set.” I typically make the polenta the day before service and keep covered and chilled in the fridge overnight or up to 48 hours.
6 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 cups polenta
- Bring the water to a boil. Add salt.
- In small batches and in a fine stream add the polenta to the boiling water, whisking constantly. Once all the polenta is added, stir the polenta with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes adjusting the boil to a simmer by reducing the heat to low. Once a constant simmer is maintained, cover the pan and cook for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes, stir the polenta. Cover the pan and cook for another 10 minutes. Repeat this process two more times for a total of 40 minutes.
- After 40 minutes, remove the lid. Continue to cook the polenta over low heat. Stir the last 1 minute of cooking.
- Pour the polenta onto a parchment lined rimmed sheet pan (10×15).
- Smooth the top of the polenta with a silicon spatula, cover and place into the fridge for 4 hours, or until set.
- Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Cut out rounds of polenta using a round pastry cutter. (If you don’t have a a pastry cutter or cookie cutter, a ball jar lid works) Place the rounds onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Place into the oven and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until a light brown crust has formed.
- Remove from the oven. Top with red wine braised short ribs, gorgonzola and chopped parsley.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post on behalf of Napa Valley Vintners. All opinions are my own.