Braised Short Ribs over Wide Noodles

About a year ago, I had been regularly attending Culinary Workshops at the local Shop Rite Supermarket*. Although they vary according to store location, at my store these workshops are held on Wednesdays and are taught by my friend - an excellent, creative, and enthusiastic chef named Lise who runs her own catering business, Chef for Hire. I started going because of Lise, but I kept going for lots of other reasons. I met a lot of nice people at the workshops and got to spend quality time learning from a fantastic chef who also happens to be a friend. I loved the fact that the classes have seasonal themes, but also are hands on, very fun, and quite inexpensive. Best of all, the low $20 fee includes sharing the three to four courses you help create with others in the class, which, when all is said and done, is a pretty cheap dining experience (albeit under the glare of grocery-store flourescent lighting and sans alcohol!). Quite the difference from your usual cooking class which, in my experiences, have meant paying twice as much to watch the chef cook and then get a mere nibble to taste.

Unfortunately, my schedule got busy and I haven't been able to attend in a long time. But I do have a mini-binder full of recipes I gathered from the many evenings I spent at Shop Rite, and on last week's snow day I dug it out looking for a one-pot meal. I quickly found just what I was looking for: "Savory Braised Short Ribs over Wide Noodles." Ingredients include flour, cinnamon, allspice, onions, carrots, celery, garlic, tomatoes, beef broth, and red wine. I browned the ribs, put them together with the other ingredients, and allowed the meat to braise for about an hour and a half. It was a perfect late-winter snowstorm late lunch/early dinner. The cooking smells filled the house and made the kitchen toasty warm. When Chris and I sat down to eat, the vegetables were tender, the meat fell right off the bone, and the sauce had nice hints of the cinnamon and allspice used in it. It was a very tasty and satisfying meal.

A little something interesting to add here is that several weeks prior to making these short ribs, I attempted a braised short ribs recipe out of Rick Tramonto's cookbook Osteria. I followed both recipe precisely and both produced good, hearty meals. However, Tramonto's recipe was very time-consuming and much more labor-intensive (hands-on cooking time was over two hours) than the Shop Rite one (hand-on was only about one-half hour). Tramonto's recipe was for the short ribs only, so I also had to make a side dish, whereas with Shop Rite's, serving the braised meat and vegetables over simple egg noodles rounded out the meal. Most importantly, Chris and I liked the flavor of the Shop Rite recipe better.

*For more information on the Shop Rite Culinary Workshops, go to the "In Our Store" section on the Shop Rite homepage.

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