It’s the time of year that I begin to long for comfort food like my grandmothers used to make.
It goes beyond specific dishes to the tastes they brought me up on. My Grandma Anna came from Ashkenazi Russian stock, my Grandma Clara from a Jewish-Hungarian-Italian background.
Anna’s food was simply seasoned and relied on dishes and recipes she had learned from her mother. I combined that tradition with New World food by roasting the Eastern European staple of turnips with sweet potatoes for a honey-roasted side dish with a bit of a bite that complements roast chicken, duck or beef.
Clara’s food was much more complex and often heavily scented with paprika. The short rib recipe relies on a goulash-like base for its flavors. Use English-cut short ribs, which are meatier than flanken and cut parallel to the rib bone (flanken is cut across the rib bone). Hungarian paprika comes in two main varieties — sweet and sharp. The sharp is hotter and can be substituted all or in part for the sweet. If not labeled either sweet or sharp, it is the sweet variety.
The short ribs can be made on the stovetop or in the oven. Serve with mashed potatoes or noodles. It can be made ahead and reheated.
Honey-Roasted Turnips and Sweet Potatoes
2 lbs. turnips
4 Tbs. olive oil, divided, plus extra for greasing pans
2 Tbs. honey, divided
1/2 tsp. salt, divided
1/2 tsp. ground black pepper, divided
1 tsp. grated lemon peel
2 lbs. sweet potatoes
1/8 tsp. grated nutmeg
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Grease two rimmed baking trays. Peel turnips and cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces. Toss with 2 Tbs. oil, 1 Tbs. honey, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper and lemon peel. Pour into single layer on baking tray. Roast 30-35 minutes, turning every 10 minutes, until browned and cooked through.
Peel sweet potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch pieces. Toss with remaining oil, honey, salt, pepper and the nutmeg. Pour into single layer on baking tray. Roast
30-35 minutes, turning every 10 minutes, until browned and cooked through.
Combine turnips and sweet potatoes and serve warm or at room temperature.
Hungarian-Flavor Short Ribs
3 lbs. bone-in English short ribs (6-8 meaty pieces)
1-2 Tbs. oil
3 cups chopped onions
2 Tbs. finely chopped garlic
1 tsp. Hungarian sweet paprika
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. ground black pepper
2 Tbs. water
14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, with liquid
1 Tbs. tomato paste
Trim off excess fat from ribs if desired. Heat 1 Tbs. oil over medium heat in a Dutch oven or other heavy-duty large pot. Brown meat on all sides, working in batches if necessary. Remove meat.
Add remaining oil to pot if need. Sauté onions until soft, scraping up any browned bits from bottom of pan. Add garlic, sauté until golden. Add paprika, salt and pepper, stir in water and cook for a minute, stirring up any browned bits from the bottom. Stir in tomatoes with liquid and tomato paste and bring to a simmer. Return ribs and any accumulated juices to pot. Bring to a simmer and cover. Simmer on stove for 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours or more until meat is very tender, turning occasionally. Alternatively, use an oven-safe pot and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook as above, but once ribs are returned to pot, cover and put in oven. Cook for 11⁄2 to 21⁄2 hours or more until meat is very tender, turning occasionally.
Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer. Her columns alternate with those of Josie A.G. Shapiro. She blogs at www.clickblogappetit.com. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.