When one thinks of childhood dreams coming true in Los Angles, the first thought that probably comes to mind are boys and girls crossing the threshold of Disneyland. This is true for many youngsters, but at eleven years old, Ari Rosenson had a different dream in mind, that of becoming a chef. The mind of a child can be fickle, but Ari knew what he wanted, a job with Wolfgang Puck, and never wavered. When his assignment in 5th grade was to do write a biography on someone famous he picked up the phone, dialed Spago, and asked to interview Mr. Puck. After his mother grabbed the receiver and explained Ari’s mission to a very nice assistant, Ari had a date with his destiny.
Mr. Puck could not have been more gracious, spending about 3-4 hours cooking and talking with Ari, even tasting his signature omelet. With Mom as photographer, the day was documented and treasured. Each year on his birthday, Ari would dine at a different Wolfgang Puck establishment, and as fate would have it, ran into the great chef himself at Granita on his fourteenth birthday. Not one to stand on ceremony, Ari greeted Puck with a “Remember me? I still like cooking, how do I get a job?” Puck was quick to reply,“You come work for me. You can either go to cooking school or become a chef at one of my restaurants.”
On Ari’s sixteenth birthday he sent Puck a package with their picture cooking together five years earlier, and a note asking “You promised me a job, can I have one?” The next day he heard from Puck’s assistant and had landed himself a job. Deciding to skip culinary school was definitely the right move for Ari, who instead worked his way from prep cook at Spago West Hollywood to part of the opening staff at Spago Beverly Hills, where he became Executive Sous Chef, flourishing under the guidance of Lee Hefter and Puck himself. Today, Ari is Head Chef and Regional Culinary Director, Los Angeles & CUT concepts.
Ari graciously took a few minutes to share some tips and a delicious recipe with Daughter-in-Law Diaries for creating the Perfect Sunday Supper:
Have you ever found yourself running around with 5 minutes to go before your guests arrive and you haven’t even taken a shower yet?
Cooking in general can be very stressful. Time constraints, making sure the food looks and tastes great, and having to worry about drinks and setting up the dining room can be difficult to juggle all at once. I have found that if you have a good game plan and you stick to it creating a restaurant quality dining experience at home can be easy. As well as take the worries out of what could be a very stressful evening. I chose this dish because it lent itself to being prepped ahead of time; up to 24 hours in advance. This will give you ample time to not only getting what I like to call the “Front of House” chores out of the way, but to get yourself both physically and mentally ready for a fun evening. The other benefit to making this dish is that it is rich and decadent with many layers of flavor, giving the perception that you were in the kitchen working all day.
All going to plan you will be setup with a glass of your favorite wine in hand, relaxing, waiting for your in-laws to show up!
Braised Beef Shanks & Root Vegetables with Creamy Parmesan Polenta
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 2 ½ Hours
Yield: 4 portions
Braised Shanks Ingredients:
3.5 Pounds Beef Shanks with Marrow bone (Should be 4 2” thick slices)
2 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 Cloves Garlic, Peeled and Chopped
2 Large Carrots, Peeled & 1.5” Oblique Cut
2 Yellow Onions, Large Dice
1 Head Celery Root, Peeled and 1” Dice
2 Parsnips, Peeled 1.5” Oblique Cut
1 Turnip, Peeled 1” Dice
1 T Tomato Paste
1 Bottle of Red Wine
2 T Balsamic Vinegar
2 Cups Chicken Stock
3 Bay Leaves
3 Whole Cloves (optional)
12 Juniper Berries (optional)
4 Sprigs Thyme
2” Sprig Rosemary
2 T Chopped Parsley
Kosher Salt, to taste
Black Pepper, to taste
1 Cup Polenta
1 Cup Milk
5 Cups Water
3 T Parmesan, Grated
Kosher Salt, to taste
1 T Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Preferably Tuscan
Method For Braised Shanks:
At least one hour before you start to cook, heavily season the beef with salt and black pepper. Season the meat just as if you were to cook a steak on the grill. Preheat your oven to 425 Degrees Fahrenheit.
In a large heavy duty braising pot over medium heat add olive oil and chopped garlic. Once garlic just starts to caramelize add Onions. Sweat out the onion until it is soft and caramelized. This step should take about 5 to 10 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, the remainder of the veggies, herbs and spices. Add the beef after 5 minutes of cooking on low heat.
Take the red wine and pour yourself one glass…you deserve it.
The remainder of the red wine goes in the pot, as well as the vinegar. Then add the chicken stock. If you are prepping a day ahead you can now remove the pot from the stove, cool and place in refrigerator. If you are cooking for today turn your burner to medium/high heat to bring the pot to a low simmer. Make sure that you stir every few minutes to insure that nothing sticks to the bottom of the pot.
Once mixture starts to simmer place a lid on the pot and put it into the oven. Start checking the doneness of the meat after about 1.5 hours of cooking. You are looking to see if the meat falls off the bone; it is soft and easily cut. If the meat is still tough and gives a rubbery feel… that’s how it will taste… Back into the oven for some more cooking. Once meat is tender remove the pot from oven.
Method For Polenta:
In a small pot over high heat add milk, water, salt to taste. Once Mixture comes to a boil stream polenta into the pot. Be sure to constantly stirring until mixture comes back to a boil. Immediately reduce heat to low and cover. Stir every 5-10 minutes for a total of 45 minutes cooking time. The cooked polenta should be the consistency of soft creamy oatmeal. Add remainder of ingredients. If the mixture is too loose cook uncovered for 10 minutes. If too thick add a little water. Insure that you keep the polenta hot on a low burner until you are ready to serve. If it cools down it will be difficult to work with and take ample time to reheat.
Method For Plate Up:
Once beef is cooked place 3 oz of polenta on a plate and spread out like you would sauce on a pizza. Then place one marrow bone & about 10oz of beef. Place some of the vegetables and cooking juices over the top. And sprinkle a little chopped parsley for garnish. If you would like to add another layer of flavor grate some fresh horseradish root over the top of the dish.
And always remember cooking is an adventure… Make sure you take time to enjoy the process!
Daughter-in-Law Diaries note:
This meal was incredible! The entire family loved it, my in-laws included. My six year old asked for a third portion, and said it was the best meat he ever had. The instructions are so easy to follow, and I really felt that I was serving a delicious and beautiful meal that looked like it came from a restaurant. We had a wonderful family dinner, and I cannot wait to make it again!
Recipe by Ari Rosenson, March 13, 2012 ©