We were entertaining grand delusions this past weekend. It was almost the end of summer, and the leaves were streaming down in the back yard. The light seemed to be changing angles, and there were new birds lining up at the bird baths. Surely fall must be right around the corner, so let’s start cooking for colder weather.
“Ha,” I say. “Ha, ha, ha!” It was 75 degrees this morning when Luke the wonder dog and I did our morning rounds. It’s going to 92 degrees this afternoon. Shorts are the order of the day, or naps in the cool, air conditioned shade under the drawing table if you happen to be of the canine persuasion. What were we thinking on Saturday when we started on the long and elaborate steps for making a short ribs ragu?
One of my favorite cold weather occupations is sitting at the kitchen island watching Mr. Sanders leisurely putter while preparing a spaghetti sauce. He opens many cans of fancy imported tomatoes. He rolls out perfect meatball orbs. He browns pounds of sausage links in his deliberate, messy way. He will use many pans and pots. There will be splatters of tomato sauce found in the strangest, most far-flung places. Luke is on constant patrol for any deliciousness that happens to fall off the cutting board. It is obviously why people love to go to open-kitchen restaurants: food is theatre. It explains The Food Channel.
I took up my station on top of my favorite stool on Saturday, watching the Byzantine process, as we were lulled by the calendar into thinking that fall is just around the corner. It’s going to be time to cuddle up inside, and keep each other warm, and entertained, and well-fed. In the meantime, I can watch the painstaking process of making the gremolata:
• 1 large garlic clove, minced
• Grated zest of 1 large lemon
• 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon olive oil
Watching the washing, peeling, mincing, chopping, grating become mesmerizing. My suggestion of using the food processor for this stage of food prep was met with a withering look. How dare I? His slow, dextrous, manual labor is a part of the creation; the process.
On Sunday night, once the ragu had aged in the fridge overnight, we went full tilt with salad, garlic bread, red wine, candles, and short rib ragu served on a bed of Pappardelle pasta. Then we waddled into the living room to watch 60 Minutes. Just like our parents did. We managed a little time travel while we were deep in denial about the current weather conditions. Welcome to our delusions!
Here is a handy list of the many different kinds of pasta. This should keep you busy until spring: https://www.tastingtable.com/764058/types-of-pasta-and-when-you-should-be-using-them/
Our friends at Food52 devised this version, but Mr. Sanders preferred to use the Pappardelle pasta – as he is trying to recreate a meal he had years ago at a very swishy London restaurant, of a wild boar ragu served with Pappardelle. He came pretty close this time. If only it had been raining and 50 degrees…
This is a fussier version of Mr. Sanders’s Sunday Short Rib Ragu: https://www.williams-sonoma.com/recipe/short-rib-ragu-with-fresh-pappardelle.html No cinnamon sticks were to be had, sadly
This illustrates clearly the many steps required: https://www.sipandfeast.com/red-wine-braised-short-ribs/
We are not the only folks who are thinking ahead a bit prematurely. Yesterday, on the last full day of summer, Luke and I noticed that one house on our street has gone full-steam-ahead with their Halloween decorations. There are fluttering ghosts, wispy witches and a plethora of pumpkins. We are not the only folks getting a little bit ahead of ourselves. Keep cool!
“They say a person needs just three things to be truly happy in this world: someone to love, something to do, and something to hope for.”
― Tom Bodett
Letters to Editor
Laura Oliver says
This is lovely!