Serious Eats: Recipes

Eat For Eight Bucks: Short Ribs Provencal

[Photograph: Phoebe Lapine of Big Girls, Small Kitchen]

Winter, as a season, is especially conducive to saving money by using inexpensive cuts of meat. When the weather begins calling for rich stews and slow-braised roasts, I put the cheapest selections at the butcher to their best use.

Though they are no more expensive than a few handfuls of chuck, short ribs feel a little more chic than their odd-cut beef counterparts. These days, you're likely to find them incorporated on the menu of even the fanciest restaurant, topped with something elegant like, say, truffle butter.

When I am looking for a dish that's just a little more special than everyday fare but am not necessarily prepared to pay restaurant prices for my dinner, I turn to short ribs and prepare them simply but with tons of flavor. Adding herbes de Provence and Nicoise olives (available in bulk, for cheap), livens up a rustic red wine braise, and naturally calls for the best cheap side dish ever: crusty baguette. If you're looking for something with more body, creamy polenta or mashed potatoes make a wonderful bed for the sauce, which you will want to consume to the very last drop.

Shopping List: 1 pound shortribs, $6.00; purchased beef stock, $0.50; ΒΌ cup olives, $0.35; 1 carrot, $0.20; 1/2 cup diced tomatoes, $0.50 (prorated).
Pantry Items: olive oil, onion, garlic, herbs de provence, red wine, bay leaf, salt
Total Cost (for 2 portions): $7.55

About the authors: Phoebe and Cara are the co-founders of Big Girls, Small Kitchen, a food and cooking website for twenty-something cooks looking for user-friendly, affordable ways to navigate their kitchens. They have a heated, decade-long rivalry about whose Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie is the best. Their book, Big Girls, Small Kitchen, will be published in the spring of 2011 by William Morrow. Visit their blog here.

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