We had a rack of ribs in the freezer that Andrew has asked to eat every weekend for at least two months so I started there. Since this menu involves grilling the ribs outside, this isn't the perfect main dish for this time of year, but I didn't want them to sit in the freezer all winter. We usually make these ribs in the summer after a long bike ride or hike, but trust me, they are tasty any time of year. The basting sauce has bourbon and apple cider so it feels fall-y at least. The ribs do require some planning ahead. I like to remove the membrane and apply the seasoning rub the night before. Check out this handy tutorial for removing the membrane - all you need is a butter knife and a paper towel and it is very quick and easy.
Brussels sprouts on the stalk are too hard to resist this time of year. I halved and roasted them. Simple and perfect. I also made a cauliflower gratin. When I was studying abroad, my host mother would make cauliflower gratiné often in the winter, and it is one of my great regrets that I never got her recipe. This one is spot on. Creamy, cheesy cauliflower gratin on a chilly night? There's not much better!
For dessert, I made an apple galette. I made apple tarts in culinary class, but they were too sweet. I actually printed out this recipe and replaced the one from our book in my standard prep manual in case I had to make it again in class. The dough is a dream - elastic and forgiving, easy to roll out thinly and light and flaky once baked. I used less than half of the sugar that the recipe called for, and to me, it was perfect. We served the galette with vanilla ice cream.
And because it is the end of November, we drank Beaujolais Nouveau, mostly for nostalgic reasons. It was actually pretty good this year, which is a big compliment, in my opinion.
Early Winter Sunday Supper
Brown Sugar and Bourbon Ribs
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Recipes are after the jump.
Brown Sugar and Bourbon Ribs
Slightly adapted from Bon Appétit, July 2005
1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1/4 cup bourbon whiskey
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons apple cider
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt
1 tablespoon (packed) golden brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 2- to 2 1/4-pound racks baby back pork ribs
1 large onion, sliced
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
6 thin rounds peeled fresh ginger
1 1/4 cups apple cider
Whisk all ingredients in medium bowl to blend.
Mix first 7 ingredients in small bowl. Using a butter knife, loosen membrane from underside of each rib rack and pull off (see link to tutorial above). Rub 1 tablespoon seasoning mix into each side of each rib rack. Place ribs in large roasting pan. Cover and chill at least 6 hours and up to 1 day.
Preheat oven to 325°F. Lift ribs from pan. Scatter onion, cinnamon stick, and ginger in pan. Pour in cider. Return ribs, meat side down, to pan; cover pan with foil. Roast ribs until meat is tender and begins to pull away from bones, about 2 hours. Uncover; cool at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.
Prepare barbecue (medium-high heat). Grill ribs until heated through and slightly charred, about 5 minutes per side. Brush generously on all sides with basting sauce. Grill until sauce becomes sticky glaze, about 3 minutes longer per side. Transfer rib racks to cutting board. Cut racks between bones into individual ribs. Arrange on platter and serve, passing remaining sauce separately.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
Salt and Pepper
Preheat oven to 400°F. Toss Brussels sprouts in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Arrange in one layer on a baking sheet and roast for 25 to 30 minutes, tossing half way through.
From Smitten Kitchen
1 (3-pound) head cauliflower, cut into large florets
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, divided
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups hot milk
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
3/4 cup freshly grated Gruyere, divided
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/2 cup fresh bread crumbs
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Cook the cauliflower florets in a large pot of boiling salted water for 5 to 6 minutes, until tender but still firm. Drain.
Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the flour, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Pour the hot milk into the butter-flour mixture and stir until it comes to a boil. Boil, whisking constantly, for 1 minute, or until thickened. Turn off the heat, add 1 teaspoon of salt, the pepper, nutmeg, 1/2 cup of the Gruyere, and the Parmesan.
Pour 1/3 of the sauce on the bottom of an 8 x 11 x 2-inch baking dish. Place the drained cauliflower on top and then spread the rest of the sauce evenly on top. Combine the bread crumbs with the remaining 1/4 cup of Gruyere and sprinkle on top. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and drizzle over the gratin. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top is browned. Serve hot or at room temperature.
From Alice Waters, found thanks to Smitten Kitchen
1 cup (125 grams) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon (2 grams) sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick or 85 grams) unsalted butter, just softened, cut in 1/2-inch pieces
3 1/2 tablespoons (50 ml) chilled water
2 pounds (910 grams) apples (Golden Delicious or another tart, firm variety), peeled, cored (save peels and cores), and sliced
2 tablespoons (30 grams) unsalted butter, melted
5 tablespoons (65 grams) sugar
1/2 cup (100 grams) sugar
Mix flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl; add 2 tablespoons of the butter. Blend in a mixer until dough resembles coarse cornmeal. Add remaining butter; mix until biggest pieces look like large peas. (I used my pastry cutter.)
Dribble in water, stir, then dribble in more, until dough just holds together. Toss with hands, letting it fall through fingers, until it’s ropy with some dry patches. If dry patches predominate, add another tablespoon water. Keep tossing until you can roll dough into a ball. Flatten into a 4-inch-thick disk; refrigerate. After at least 30 minutes, remove; let soften so it’s malleable but still cold. Smooth cracks at edges. On a lightly floured surface, roll into a 14-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Dust excess flour from both sides with a dry pastry brush.
Place dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet, or you can use a lightly greased 9-inch round tart pan. Heat oven to 400°F. (If you have a pizza stone, place it in the center of the rack.)
Overlap apples on dough in a ring 2 inches from edge if making galette, or up to the sides if using the tart pan. Continue inward until you reach the center. Fold any dough hanging over pan back onto itself; crimp edges at 1-inch intervals.
Brush melted butter over apples and onto dough edge. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons sugar over dough edge and the other 3 tablespoons over apples. (I used about 2 tablespoons, and I found it to be plenty.)
Bake in center of oven until apples are soft, with browned edges, and crust has caramelized to a dark golden brown (about 45 minutes), making sure to rotate tart every 15 minutes.
To make glaze, put reserved peels and cores in a large saucepan, along with sugar. Pour in just enough water to cover; simmer for 25 minutes. Strain syrup through cheesecloth.
Remove tart from oven, and slide off parchment onto cooling rack. Let cool at least 15 minutes. Brush glaze over tart, slice, and serve.