Tuesday, March 6, 2012


Short Rib Truffle Casserole

As we settle into the long, cold, dark days that come with the final slog through winter, we — your pals from The Hairpin and The Awl — will be bringing you some of our favorite casserole recipes (and crockery recommendations).

I am fascinated with Minnesota. I think it began in the summer when I was about six. My family would rent a house in Cape May, NJ, and all pile in and spend a week or two on the beach. This included my aunt, who has long lived outside Minneapolis with her husband, a native Minnesotan. Soon they began to bring a group of friends every year. Friends who called soda "pop" and made potato salad with pickle juice and drank more beer than anyone I've ever met. And they said things like "dontcha know" and "ooh yah" and it was just so foreign. Then I grew up and saw Fargo, and the obsession became official.

A few seasons ago I went to Minnesota, to visit my family and a close friend from college, who happened to be the one to introduce me to hot dish. However, my hot dish was not traditional hot dish. It was total hipster hot dish, and it was fantastic. It was made with short ribs and a beschamel sauce, and it had TRUFFLE TATER TOTS on top, and I was so sickly full after eating it, but I didn't even care. I couldn't stop thinking about it, and even when my wonderful roommate, bless her heart, made good-ol' working-class hot dish with delicious tots and salty ground beef, it just couldn't compare.

This is my attempt to recreate that magical hipster dish. There's truffle oil and short rib and wine, and, okay, regular crispy potatoes instead of tots (though you could definitely put tots in this), and even though it's not exactly what I had, I feel happy making it.

A note on casseroles: I can't be the only one who gets confused about French casseroles and American casseroles, right? Growing up, I always assumed a casserole was something weird and gooey baked in a 9x13 pyrex dish, but it turns out that's just me being an ignorant American, and a casserole is basically a French Dutch oven, and that's definitely what you should be using for this. Also definitely get out of the habit of going for the pyrex every time you see a "casserole" recipe that doesn't specify. Though maybe they should just start specifying because NOT ALL OF US KNOW ABOUT YOUR FANCY FRENCH COOKWARE.


3 pounds beef short rib cut in serving-size pieces (no bones)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 cup water
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon flour
A few drops hot pepper sauce (I use Crystal hot sauce, and go a little heavy with 10 drops or so)
1 teaspoon dry mustard
2 tablespoons red wine
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 bay leaf
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 package of frozen hash browns, or if you're not incredibly lazy like me, about three potatoes, boiled, cooled and diced.
A drizzles-worth of white truffle oil


1. Heat oven to 325 F. Trim excess fat from ribs; brown in oil (making sure to always splatter yourself, no matter how hard you try and how much you dry the beef beforehand). Place ribs in a deep 2 1/2- to 3-quart FRENCH casserole. Saute onion in meat drippings, adding a little more oil if you need to; add water and bring to boil. Mmmmm, hot onion water.

2. Pour onion water over ribs; cover and bake for 2 hours, or until almost tender. Pour off juice into saucepan (better yet, remove beef bits with tongs, then pour liquid into a saucepan, then put beef bits back in casserole dish) and combine with sugar, flour, hot pepper sauce, mustard, vinegar, lemon juice, and bay leaf.  Bring to boil, stirring constantly, and cook until all the bits are melted together and it's a little thickened, but not like, actual gravy thickened. Season with salt and pepper; pour over ribs and bake, uncovered, for 1 hour or until meat is tender.

3. About 15 minutes before that hour is up, start cooking your frozen/fresh potatoes/tater tots in a skillet to get them nice and browned and crispy. Take out casserole and put the potatoes on top. Drizzle well with white truffle oil, and throw it back in the oven for another half hour. Then remove, let cool for a second so you don't hurt your mouth, and serve! Best enjoyed with some red wine and the ABC Family run of Lion King, as I discovered this weekend.

Jaya Saxena doesn't make enough to be buying white truffle oil all willy-nilly like this.

55 Comments / Post A Comment


"Jaya Saxena doesn't make enough to be buying white truffle oil all willy-nilly like this."


looks kinda amazing@t


I am so excited to try this recipe, although I don't even know if any stores near me sell truffle oil and it is everything I usually stay away from (red meat! potatoes!). It sounds DELICIOUS.

Also, yesterday I was all Astoria nostalgia, and today I'm going to be all Minnesota nostalgia. If I could live half the year in Queens/Brooklyn and half in Saint Paul, I totally would. Screw you, Southern California! I want my hotdish, affordable housing, seasons, and local coops!


@@serenityfound Funny, because I made this Minnesota dish at my apartment in Astoria! Ahhh come hang out!


@Jaya You are so lucky I live all the way across the country in stupid Orange County, California, right now or I would be at your doorstep in a HEARTBEAT.



but I really can't have it. Sigh.

But I'm really happy to know it exists, so. Small victories.


Totally making this! I don't have a fancy french dutch oven though :(


@teebs Me neither. But I do get paid this coming weekend....


@teebs Hit up a TJ Maxx or Homegoods-y store. They usually have offbrand ones for $20ish in the less desirable colors (mine's lime green Mario Batali). Enameled cast iron and does all the same magical cooking goodness as the LaCreuset.

Now I just need to acquire the fancy truffle oil...


@teebs Hit the goodwill. People buy and give away dutch ovens like they don't cost $100+ dollars


@teebs Target has Lodge enamelled (enameled? Neither way looks right) ones for thirty bucks or so. I got one and it's the best cookware purchase I've made in twenty years. You can casserole in it, brown things in it, even bake Mark Bittman's super-hot-oven no-knead bread in it, if you unscrew the handle on the top first.


@Mingus_Thurber I saw Lodge ones on Amazon and wasn't sure if they were quality or not, since they are so much cheaper. But now, Lodge it is!


@teebs Mr. Delperro and I both came to our relationship with dutch ovens. I have a salvation army le cruset. He has a lodge from Target. We like his better.


@teebs Definitely check out TJ Maxx, that's great advice. I got a Le Creuset Dutch Oven/French Casserole/Thingy there for $50. FIFTY. That's it! They're usually like $300 or something. And it wasn't even a teeny little one- the thing's HUGE. And also probably the most useful thing in my kitchen.

@@serenityfound I have a Lodge and I LOVE IT. Mine is bright blue and amazing and cleans up like the dickens and is the source of all good things in my life.

@Mingus_Thurber Ooooh you do casseroles in it? I need to try this. Like, can I make egg casserole in it, like the hot dish from a few weeks ago? Or Jane's broccoli curry chicken divan thing? Please clarify?


@S. Elizabeth I do ALL THE CASSEROLES in it. My mother used to make something that involved a white sauce, two cans of mushrooms, a big can of tuna, and a (and here I hide my face in shame) bag of the cheapest generic potato chips available. In Pyrex, that's po'folks casserole; in the Lodge, it all gets brown and crunchy and marvelous on the bottom, because you butter the pan and line it with squushed potato chips, and it tastes like my childhood, transported to a nice restaurant.

One thing of which you should be aware: if you casserole anything that's gooey, rather than liquidy, in a Lodge or other dutch oven, it'll have a large proportion of gooey-to-topping than it would in a shallower dish. However, this can be a good thing. In a large Pyrex, my macaroni and cheese is fantastic with a crumb topping. In the Lodge, it attains a different level of exaltation altogether, when the fat on the bottom kind of browns up and forms a crust.

And if you're making that Persian rice dish where the crust is indispensible? You can't do it without a cast-iron enamel/lled dutch oven.

Ham Snadwich

@Mingus_Thurber - The Lodge is pretty much the bomb. And fully $200 cheaper than Le Creuset if you buy it new.

@Mingus_Thurber Ladieeees I want to bust out my lodge today. What shall I make?


@Ham Snadwich Now my question is: what size?! This recipe calls for a 3-qt - would that be sufficient for most things I'd want to make? Or should I go for a 5 or 6-qt?

Ham Snadwich

@@serenityfound - We got the biggest (6-qt?). It's not so huge as to be unwieldy, but big enough to fit a whole chicken.

Another fun thing, if you go look at it on Amazon, under the "People who looked at this also looked at:" thingy, one of the results is Le Creuset Replacement knob, so you can fake like you have a Le Creuset.

@@serenityfound I have a 6 quart. It's the perfect size.

@all I think I'm going to make mini-pies in a muffin tin filled with the lebanese meat recipe wee_ramekin gave me, and I will DIP THEM IN YOGURT!!!


@S. Elizabeth @Ham Snadwich A 6-qt blue Lodge is in my Amazon cart awaiting tomorrow's paycheck! Also buying one of those replacement nobs, although more for the "won't melt or explode at high temps" reason than pretending I own Le Creuset (...but a little for that, too). Now, to find truffle butter...


@all I ruined 2 Le Creusets before buying the Martha Stewart version for like $30 from Amazon. That baby has held up for 2 years with no damage. AND, I use it in the oven all the time. Totally made the beef-yogurt thingy in it the other day, having leftovers for dinner tonight. This one is next on my list!


Aaaaand now I want tater tots. Lots and lots of tots.


Can anyone answer some questions on enameled cast iron?

I want it so bad, but can't afford the good stuff on my tiny student budget. I kind of want to register for some Le Creuset pieces for my wedding next year, but I'm scared registering for $200+ cookware pieces will make my friends and fam think I'm a psycho bridezilla. (Disclaimer: I'm a cooking fiend so I would definitely be using it alllll the time. I'm not one of those people who doesn't cook but registers for all kinds of fancy cooking shit they'll never use).

Is Le Creuset the end-all-be-all? Or could I get less-expensive stuff that works just as well & lasts just as long, but isn't quite so expensive?


@bonnbee I have a nice $60 one from Cost Plus World Market. It works great. I've also seen pieces by Lodge, which is a really reputable american cast iron company that I got my skillet from. Le Cruset also has outlets, and sells their discontinued color lines to outlet stores, so there are lots of options. My friend has a begian one that is beautiful, vintage and clearly withstood the test of time (I'd guess it's about 40 years or more), and my parents still use a no name brand one they got for their wedding in 1983. So I think anything that's got enamel inside and out and is made in the US or Europe is probably fine.

I also don't think there's anything wrong with getting Le Cruset but I think they're probably inflated in price by virtue of being the name that represents the product, and their ombre enamel. I wouldn't think my friend was a jerk if I saw it on their registry at all.


@bonnbee Since you said you're a cooking fiend, I don't think it would be cray for you to register for nice Le Creuset things. I'm a cook professionally, and my family always gives me nice cookery, cutlery, etc. because they know it will go to good use.

A good way to go is try and find deals online through insider websites. Chef's Catalog is great, they always have wonderful deals on there. Cooking.com can also be pretty great.

Also, if you live in a larger city there's probably shops that only cooks and chef's know about where they sell everything on the cheap. In Chicago, we have Northwestern Cutlery. Even without my discount, everything is crazy cheap. Specifically they have Le Creuset deals every week. Look into it!

Hope that helps.


Also, Sur la Table, douchey name notwithstanding, is always good for a sale.

Tuna Surprise


I pitched in with a group and got a Le Creuset for a wedding gift for a friend that loves to cook. Out of everything the registry, it's the only thing that will still be regularly used in 20 years. I loved that thought and I'm sure at least one of your guests will too.


@bonnbee I just said this upthread, but I have a Lodge dutch oven (and frying pan and grill pan) that is the single best cookware purchase I've made in longer than I care to admit. You can use it for everything, nothing ever burns unless you fuck up beyond all reason, and Mom still uses the Lodge stuff her family got her fifty years ago when she & Dad got married.


@bonnbee I have a Calphalon dutch oven that my lovely parents got me for Christmas--it's the same model they've been using for years, and everyone involved is super thrilled with them.


@bonnbee Lodge all the way. I have some Le Cruset (woo Salvation Army in posh neighborhoods) and some Lodge, and I think the lodge is better stuff.


@bonnbee PLEASE don't hesitate to register for a few really expensive items that you really want. People often want to get you a "special" gift for your wedding (or a group will go in on an expensive item together, as someone mentioned above). I put two pie-in-the-sky items on my registry that I never thought anyone would buy in a million years and they were some of the first things to be purchased. Also you will get tons of cash. Enjoy, and congratulations!


@bonnbee - I always live w/ roommates and mostly use their pots and pans. I cook SO MUCH - so much that I have spent months hunting down the specific knife I want (It's a Wusthof, but they discontinued the Le Cordon Bleu - it's basically a japanese-style blade on a german constructed knife/handle, ugh i love it) - but I have only one cookware vessel of my own.

It is a ginormous Le Creuset. I use it for basically everything I do in the kitchen. Like, I will set it on the oven and get it hot as soon as I'm in the kitchen, and just use it like a flattop for my lonely single person portions.

Plus, if I ever got into a swordfight, the lid would make an excellent shield. It's heavy as hell.


@leon.saintjean DUDE, I thought the exact same thing about the lid on mine (Calphalon, but still enameled cast iron, so heavy as hell) when I got it!


@bonnbee My sister and I used our parents' Le Creuset lids as shields for our wooden-spoon swordfights.

also, dude, with that knife? NO ONE is going to mess with you.



That is my favorite knife. I have another, but it's a twelve-incher (my LCB is ten) and is so damn heavy my wrist gets tired. Sadly, it got dropped on the floor by. . .um. . .a friend, and the tip is ever-so-slightly bent.

Damn. Way to harsh a girl's knife-geek mellow.


I assume that 'beschamel sauce' is a hipster, Zoe Deschanel-endorsed version of bechamel sauce? :)


I have no idea what this article is about because as soon as I saw the word "truffle" in the title, my brain went straight to the Truffle Shuffle and stayed there.

@literary_hippie But did you think of Lutz?


Also in Ratatouille when Collette yells: "White truffle oil?! The recipe doesn't call for white truffle oil!" (Clearly, I have nothing constructive to add here)

Melissa Miller

Don't you mean, Short Rib Truffle Hot Dish? ;) Glad you love Minnesota. We love you back!! XOXO Melissa from Minneapolis


Fun fact! White truffle oil almost never contains actual truffles! Truffles lose their pungency fairly quickly after processing, so most "truffle" flavored things are actually flavored with a synthetic compound akin to those found in truffles. I learned this from reading a book about mushrooms recently, and it blew my mind.


@aphrabean Yes, this! Truffle oil is generally bogus and not worth it. An alternative is truffle salt, which contains actual pieces of (dried) truffle.


@aphrabean I buy a truffle every year and store it, in plain white basmati rice (in the fridge) and then with a couple of unwrapped packages of unsalted European butter. When it's looking a little frazzled, I grate it into mashed potatoes, scrambled eggs, and everything else it'll conceivably go into. If I have any left over, it goes into a glass bottle, grated, with olive oil. You can get a lot out of a truffle.


New Yorkers: 1) Go to Eataly. 2) Buy truffle butter. 3) Leave Eataly without buying anything else. 4) Live happily ever after until you run out of truffle butter.




Thanks, Jaya. I didn't even know it was a thing until I went to Eataly in search of truffle oil and the salesdude was like, "EW. That's SYNTHETIC. We don't sell THAT."
Use it sparingly on pretty much anything. OR, just go to the kitchen at 3 in the morning and slather it on toast like the hedonistic glutton you are/I am.


@Rita Oh absolutely hedonistic glutton. And now I'm totally embarrassed to have promoted the synthetic stuff! Everyone, just dab some truffle butter on top instead! Or eat a stick of truffle butter with a baguette instead, which is what I will be doing every night for dinner until I die (given that diet, about a week).

Aunt Pete

This makes me so nostalgic. I'm a native Fargonian and my dad's entire family resides within 20 miles of St. Paul. Sad to say though, that I've lost touch with my roots. Pop is now soda, the last time I said oofta has to be years ago, and a casserole...the last one I ate was during DC's snowmaggedon when I had an inexplicable craving and trudged over a mile to the Safeway for the ingredients for Toodle Noodle Hot Dish complete with Velveeta cheese. I think I need to make this for the salvation of my Midwestern soul!!!

Also, Le Creuset is totally worth it. Mine is the single best gift I have ever received. I also wouldn't say no to a Staub though.

Katherine Wellman@facebook

I'm in the process of making this... And just realized that you don't actually use the 2 tablespoons of red wine. Unless that's what you were drinking while eating and watching the Lion King. In which case, only 2 tablespoons?

I'm going to just add it in somewhere along the way. And will definitely be having more than 2 tablespoons of red wine to wash it down.

Katherine Wellman@facebook

Upon further reading, I think you meant red wine vinegar!


@Katherine Wellman@facebook Ahhh oh no! I did mean red wine! An initial version I had used vinegar but I liked wine more, so where it says add vinegar is when you add the wine. Sorry about that! I hope it came out delicious anyway.

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