On Evolving Valentine’s Day Traditions

I love Valentine’s Day. Who wouldn’t? Wine. Penne with silky vodka sauce. Maybe some good cheese to nibble on while one cooks. And the grand finale, lucious creme brulee.

What’s that? That’s not how everyone celebrates this cheesy over-commercialized holiday? Well, you’re missing out. Big time.

I have vodka creme sauce once a year. On Valentine’s Day. It’s kinda a tradition. A few years back, we decided to forego the headache of calling ahead to get dinner reservations on this very special day of the year and stay in. And it was awesome. We’ve never looked back.

This year, as Valentine’s Day approached, the Hubs suggested we change it up.

Whaaaa?

He suggested we make the stout braised short ribs recipe that we love. It is also a special occasion recipe, but the Hubs pretty much owns it now. The last few times we’ve made it, the only thing I’ve done is chop the vegetables.

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I’ve raved about how yummy this recipe for short ribs is on this blog before. Specifically, here and here. But I don’t think I’ve ever posted the recipe. I wish I could take credit for it myself, but I found it on Epicurious a few years back when I bought some short ribs from the Monroe Farm Market and was trying to figure out what to do with them. These are the best short ribs I’ve ever eaten. We’ve tried them at restaurants, and they just never seem to measure up to the rich, hearty version we make at home.

Stout Braised Short Ribs adapted from Epicurious (4 servings)

  • 1/4 c. dark brown sugar
  • 1 Tb paprika
  • 1 Tb curry powder
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 4 lbs beef short ribs
  • 2 large leeks, chopped and rinsed
  • 3 Tb olive oil
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 Tb mined garlic
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 2 12-oz bottles stout beer (or porter)
  • 2 14-oz cans diced tomatoes

Move rack to lower third and preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix brown sugar, paprika, curry, cumin, pepper, salt and mustard in a small bowl. Pat ribs dry and place in a large dish. Rub ribs with brown sugar mixture until well coated. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Heat the oil in a large dutch oven, and sear off ribs until browned on all sides–about 1 minute per side (you may have to work in batches). Remove ribs from dutch oven and set aside. Add the leeks, carrots and bay leaves to the dutch oven, and cook on low heat until vegetables begin to soften. Add the garlic, and cook, stirring occasionally about another minute. Add the broth, beer and tomatoes with their juice to the dutch oven and stir. Add the ribs and bring to a boil uncovered. Place the lid on the pot and transfer to oven. Braise about 2 hours, or until meat is tender. Discard bay leaves before serving.

I made the side dish–a package of Roland Foods porcini mushroom flavored Israeli couscous I got in my swag bag at  Mixed Con last fall.

We prepped everything the night before, and the best part about it was that Jeremy got home early that day, and dinner was pretty much done when I got home. And the house smelled amazing. Like meat and garlic.

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Back when I bought short ribs for the first time, they were 4 dollars per pound. I guess it was a cut of meat that no one really paid much attention to, and was sold sort of as an afterthought. I don’t know what happened, but in the recent years, short ribs started popping up on menus at restaurants and on cooking blogs. I guess short ribs got trendy or something. Maybe people are just getting wise to how delicious they are, especially on a cold winter night. Now, they’re selling for $7.99 and up per pound at the farmer’s market. Oh well.

We finished off the perfect Valentine’s dinner with creme brulee, which is what we always have. Who needs reservations at an expensive and fancy restaurant for Valentine’s Day when you have a dinner like this?

But I guess I’ll have to come up with another reason to have my annual dinner of penne with vodka creme sauce. Oh, darn.

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4 thoughts on “On Evolving Valentine’s Day Traditions

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