Today, December 21, 2011, Nick Fox, Deputy Food Editor of the Dining Section of the New York Times, gave his favorite recipe for Noche Buena. It is the beef shortrib adobo adapted from our cookbook, Memories of Philippine Kitchens.
The article called Dining Writers on their Memories of Holiday Eating celebrates Noche Buena because Nick Fox’s wife, Cielo, is Filipino. Many Filipinos were surprised to find adobo on the Christmas table because it is an everyday dish and do not associate it with the Noche Buena feast which usually features fiesta dishes from Spain like the ham and chicken relleno. But for many homesick Filipinos and Americans who have recently discovered that Filipino food is delicious, adobo is perfect. As Nick says, the first time he served it, no one in their party had ever tasted it before. But now, after many years of cooking a Noche Buena dinner for his neighbors and friends, it is the most requested dish in the party.
Beef Short-Rib Adobo
Adapted from “Memories of Philippine Kitchens: Stories and Recipe From Far and Near,” by Amy Besa and Romy Dorotan (Stewart, Tabori & Chang; 2006)
Time: 2 1/2 hours
3 pounds short ribs
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
3 tablespoons oil
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup coconut milk
1 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 head garlic, cloves separated and peeled
3 bay leaves.
1. Heat the oven to 275 degrees. Season the ribs all over with salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, pour in the oil. When it is warm but not smoking, add the ribs to the pan, in batches if necessary, and brown well on all sides, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove the ribs from the pan and pour out the oil.
2. Add the remaining ingredients and 1 teaspoon black pepper, stir well, and add the ribs back in one layer. Use two pans if necessary, distributing the liquid. Bring to a boil over high heat. Turn off heat, cover the pan and put it into the oven. Cook until the meat is tender and falling off the bone, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. The liquid should only simmer very gently. Skim off excess fat when you check on it.
3. Transfer ribs to a broiling pan. Put the braising liquid over high heat; boil for 10 to 15 minutes to thicken it. Meanwhile, put the ribs under the broil until brown. (You can dispose of the bones if they become loosened.) Put ribs on a platter; pour sauce on them.
Yield: 4 servings.
Note: You can double the recipe, and cook the ribs in two layers. Cooking time will be a bit uneven, though, so it’s best to try to turn over the ribs halfway through the cooking.