Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Dinner Party, round 2

2 weeks ago, the night before my Surprise Bachelorette Weekend in Atlantic City, we hosted a Dinner Party for some of Connor's clients. One of the couples hosted the first round in August, which was SO fabulous, and we wanted to host next! Dinner parties are quite possibly my favorite things in the world...good food, wine, conversation, and revelry. This group was so great, it was such a fabulous evening!

Connor & I prepped all week, by cleaning & re-organizing. It was really good to have a scrubbed-clean house! When we don't have visitors/guests (i.e. since we've been traveling EVERY WEEKEND EVER), our house becomes a disaster zone. No more of that!

I made the short ribs the night before, since they're best next-day. I followed a few recipes, so here's what I did!


  • 12 bone-in short ribs
  • Kosher Salt & fresh cracked Pepper
  • 6 pieces of thick-cut bacon or pancetta, small-diced
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large white onion (or 2 medium), cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 carrots, peeled, cut in 1/2 lengthwise, then cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1  can of diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 to 3 cups Red Wine
  • 4 cups Beef stock
  • 1 bunch fresh thyme, tied with kitchen string
  • 2 bay leaves
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Season each short rib generously with salt & pepper. In a large dutch oven, cook bacon/pancetta over medium heat until complete crispy and all fat is rendered (15 minutes). Remove bacon/pancetta and set aside. Do not discard grease.

Raise heat to high. There should be enough grease from the bacon/pancetta, but add olive oil in case you need more. Brown ribs on all sides, about 45 seconds per side (including ends). Remove ribs and set aside.

Turn heat to medium. Add onions, carrots, and shallots to pan and cook for 2 minutes. Pour in wine and scrape bottom of pan to release all the yummy bits. Bring to a boil and cook 2 minutes.
Add stock, tomato paste, canned tomatoes, 2 teaspoons kosher salt, and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Add ribs to the liquid; they should be almost completely submerged. Add thyme and rosemary sprigs (whole) to the liquid.

Put on the lid and place into the oven. Cook at 350 for 2 hours, then reduce heat to 325 and cook for an additional 30 to 45 minutes. Ribs should be fork-tender and falling off the bone. Remove pan from oven and allow to sit for at least 20 minutes, lid on, before serving. At the last minute, skim fat off the top of the liquid.

If refrigerating, let the pot cool for a few hours before putting it in. When you want to serve, spoon off the hardened fat first, then throw the short ribs in the oven for an hour at 350 F to warm back up.

Serve 2 ribs on bed of creamy goat cheese polenta, spooning a little juice over the top.

:: Goat Cheese Polenta ::

Adapted from Pioneer Woman
  • 2 cups Yellow Cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons Salt
  • 4 Tablespoons Butter
  • 4-8 ounces Goat Cheese

Bring 9 cups water to a boil.
Add cornmeal to the water in a thin stream, whisking constantly to avoid lumps.
Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes, adding salt and extra tablespoons of water as needed.
When polenta is done, stir in butter and goat cheese. Check seasonings, and add salt to taste.

Anyways, we had a lot of fun shopping for supplies (i.e. beer & wine at Total Wine), and it gave me an excuse to clean out every shelf on our fridge and re-organize it. An organized fridge makes me happy.
Everyone came over between 7 & 8, and I served Boursin, cheese straws, rosemary & raisin crackers (FAVE), and mini pita bites from Trader Joe's, along with olives, grapes, and asian pears.

I had Dark 'n Stormy cocktails ready, and we enjoyed catching up, & sipping drinks and homemade beer from John (THANK YOU).

I started with plated Fall salads...Bibb lettuce, thinly sliced Granny Smith apples, dried cranberries, candied walnuts, and an apple cider vinaigrette (one part vinegar, 1.5 parts oil, a dollop of dijon mustard and a dollop of honey). Served with blue cheese crumbles on top

Our group!

My favorite place to be...
My sous chef, Connor, takes great pictures
Glorious Short Ribs
Bowser is never far from Momma
Christy & I
The girls, minus Meredith!
We then moved on to dinner. The short ribs and polenta were plenty of food. John & Christy also brought homemade olive bread (my fave), so that went along nicely!

For dessert, I served Pumpkin Bread Pudding (another combination of recipes) with TJ's vanilla ice cream. Sorry for not taking pictures, but we gobbled it right up!

We had the best time! Cleaning up wasn't that bad, I just washed and Connor dried. We make a great team!


We had so much fun. We can't wait for round 3!

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