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Short Ribs That Measure Up : A Talented Restaurateur and Chef Share Their Secret for a Great Down-Home Dinner

January 26, 1986|ROSE DOSTI | Rose Dosti is a Times staff writer

There's good reason for the popular appeal of short ribs at The Grill in Beverly Hills. "It's homespun food," says Bob Spivak, managing partner of the restaurant. "More and more people are looking for meals like mother used to make." Short ribs are not the type of food you would expect to find at a fine restaurant, but there they are on The Grill's menu. "We run the item twice a week, and every day we get phone calls asking when they'll be served," says Spivak.

The ribs at The Grill do have special qualities. To start, chef John Sola, who trained under Rolf Nonnast, the chef at Scandia in West Hollywood, uses kosher-cut short ribs. Kosher-cut does not mean that the ribs have been "blessed" by a rabbi but rather that they have been "squared off," or trimmed of as much fat as possible to render them almost perfect rectangles of meat with the bone in. Where do you find kosher-cut ribs? Any butcher worth his salt will be able to provide you with some.

The trick to the flavorful ribs is to braise them until they are well browned. "Browning the meat with the bone in is what gives the sauce its rich flavor," Spivak says. The ribs are served in a pool of the rich, brown juices--perfect to sop up with pieces of crusty sourdough bread. A mound of colorful julienne vegetables is placed on top.

Although The Grill is hidden in an alley, it opened two years ago to a full house and has been going strong ever since. The emphasis, as the turn-of-the-century decor (reminiscent of Musso & Frank Grill in Hollywood or Tadich Grill in San Francisco) suggests, is on traditional American grill items such as steaks, chops, fresh seafood and specialties including short ribs, pot roast, corned beef and cabbage, and liver and onions. All homespun.

Chef Sola's version of braised short ribs appears on Page 37. JOHN SOLA'S BRAISED SHORT RIBS Oil 2 1/2 pounds kosher-cut short ribs 1 cup cubed onion, celery, carrots, combined 1 bay leaf 2 ounces brandy 2 cups beef stock 1 tablespoon arrowroot Salt and pepper 1 onion, cut into 3-inch julienne 1 turnip, cut into 3-inch julienne Chopped parsley

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in large skillet. Add short ribs and saute 2 minutes on each side, or until browned. Remove from pan. Set aside.

Add 2 more tablespoons oil to skillet and heat. Add cubed vegetables and bay leaf and saute 5 minutes, or until browned. Place vegetables and short ribs in roasting pan. Bake at 450 degrees 15 to 20 minutes to braise. Add brandy and beef stock. Reduce oven heat to 350 degrees and bake, covered, for 1 hour, 45 minutes to 2 hours, or until meat falls away from bone. Remove short ribs from pan and set aside. Discard vegetables.

Strain pan juices. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in small skillet. Stir in arrowroot until smooth. Cook and stir until golden brown. Stir in 1/2 cup strained liquid until well blended. Cook, stirring until smooth and slightly thickened. Gradually add remaining strained liquid and cook, again stirring until smooth and slightly thickened. Strain again. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil. Add julienne onion and turnip and saute until lightly browned. Place vegetables on top of short ribs. Pour sauce over vegetables. Garnish with parsley. Makes 4 servings.


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