Friday, July 20, 2012

Grandpa's Beef Noodles

There are only a few dishes in everyone's mind that revive childhood memories so potently that you can just close your eyes and be 7 years old again.

This is one of those.

Kind of like my mom's chicken cacciatore, this recipe was a frequent occurrence when I was a kid and spent time at my mom's parents house. My grandpa was the cook in the family, and when my cousins and I visited, there was always a wealth of old-fashioned foods meant to fatten up us grandkids: chili, buttered potatoes, bologna sandwiches, and beef noodles.
Richard Meier, ~30 years old. Handsome fellow, no?

Grandpa didn't leave behind too many recipes, so I had to go on memory with this. It's very simple, but very rich. I think because my grandpa grew up during the Depression he enjoyed foods high in calories and low in cost.

{Printable Recipe}

3-4 large short ribs
1 box beef broth
1/2 lb elbow macaroni or Pipe Rigate
1 bay leaf
1-2 cloves garlic
Salt & Pepper


1. If you like, you can trim off some of the fat off the short rib. Otherwise, season with salt & pepper and brown the meat on all sides in a heavy-bottomed ceramic pot in some olive oil.
2. Pull the meat out and pour off some of the grease in the skillet. I saw on Pinterest this trick: Line a small ramekin with foil, pour the fat off into the foil, and when the fat hardens, you can just ball up the whole thing and throw it away. Genius!

3. Peel the garlic and throw it in the pan with the bay leaf. Pour in the box of beef broth. Add the short ribs back into the pot.
4. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce to a slow simmer for 3-4 hours until the short ribs are fork tender and pull apart easily.
After several hours of braising
5. Take the ribs out, shred them with a fork. If there's any excess fat, you can peel it off and throw it out.
They should pull off the bone easily.
6. Add about 4 cups of water to the beef broth — it will have reduced quite a bit during the braising process. Bring the broth to a boil. Cook your noodles in the broth for 7-8 minutes until they're done.

They'll soak up a lot of the broth so it's more like a sauce rather than a soup by the end of it.

7. Add the beef back into the noodles. Serve with bread, Parmesan cheese, and extra salt + pepper to taste.

This sort of humble, simple food is always the most delicious, probably because of what it means to us when we indulge in it. What's your favorite childhood food?


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