I woke up this morning thinking about short ribs. That’s not unusual for me; consciousness typically breaks with some blurry object of desire floating about six inches in front of my filmy eyes. And unlike yesterday, when it was Christina Hendricks, I had an object today that was actually within my grasp. I shot some video for Morgan Spurlock’s Mansome video series at the Whole Foods Bowery store, and the boneless short ribs looked so appealing that I grabbed them as a kind of impulse purchase. They were sitting in the refrigerator this morning, awaiting their fate. I just ate them. They were fabulous.


Short ribs have an undeserved reputation as being tough. Everyone assumes you have to cook them in winey broths for hours to make them edible, and maybe you did, in 1940. But it’s summer; I’m hungry; and the last thing I want is to start boiling broths. Anyway, I like the taste of meat; I want it to yield its blood and juice and sizzling fat into my mouth as a semi-living thing; I’m not looking for an insensate blob of brown braised protein. I salted the beef, and I peppered it, and I dropped it into some hot olive oil at the bottom of a big Le Creuset braiser. I managed, in my groggy state (coffee was still a vague plan) to remember to bash a garlic clove and throw it in the oil to flavor it. I let the beef brown and sizzle and smoke; and then I put the lid on it so that it wouldn’t smoke up my house. After a while I turned it, and then closed it again. Five minutes later I had a beautifully rosy, intensely flavored, richly juicy short rib sitting on my cutting board. The only problem was that the steam had ruined its crusty edge.


To eat it? Or re-brown it? It would cause a lot of smoke. But a rare short rib is a little chewy even for me, so rebrowning it in the open pan would do it good on the inside and the outside both, like a high-class spa treatment. Up went the pan heat, up went the air conditioning, on went the coffee, and minutes later the meat was perfectly a point, salty, pink, and crusty on the outside. The oil smoked like hell but I closed the lid and the smoke then ceased to exist for my purposes. I sliced and ate the short ribs, bite by bite, piece by piece, with little black bits of garlic stuck to them, right off the cutting board.


And then I fried an egg in the pan fat.