This Thanksgiving I am going to acknowledge my parent’s journey which took them from Poland to Germany to France where they remained till 1952 when they, along with my sister, traveled to Genoa, Italy, and boarded a ship to the United States. After having recently read that a well-known chef includes potato kugel at his Thanksgiving dinner, I’ve decided to include a dish that reflects my roots. My mom loved Flanken, and since it fits in perfectly with this American meal, in addition to turkey, we are going to have what she called “gedempfte fleish.” Braised short ribs, cooked until the meat melts off the bone. I called my sister to ask for my mother’s recipe, but she couldn’t remember anything other than it included a bay leaf, which matches my memory exactly.
It feels surprisingly liberating to take a break from “tradition” and add something new to the menu, or something old, depending on how you look at it. My parents loved Thanksgiving, my mom always prepared turkey and sweet potatoes, and even bought canned cranberry sauce. Although it was never verbalized, I knew how lucky they felt to have survived, and to be in this country. That’s something that comes to my mind each Thanksgiving and makes me forever thankful.
P.S. This recipe is nothing like my mom’s ( I am guessing) but I did include a bay leaf.
Short Ribs (Flanken)
1 1/2 pounds beef short ribs
1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large carrot, diced
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
1 small onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups water
1 bay leaf
Season the ribs with salt and pepper. Heat a heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat and coat the bottom of the pan with olive oil. Add the ribs and let brown, really brown, that’s where all the flavor is. Remove ribs to a plate and add vegetables, season with salt and pepper to taste. Saute vegetables for 4 or 5 minutes, scraping up bits of meat from the bottom of the pan. Lower heat, and add garlic and tomato paste, again stirring for several more minutes but do not let burn. Return ribs to pot, add enough water just to barely cover meat, add bay leaf, and place lid on pot. Put in preheated 325 degree oven for about 2 1/2 hours. Check after about an hour to make sure there is enough liquid, and add water if necessary. Turn ribs over half way though baking time. When meat is very tender your flanken is ready to be served. Take out the bay leaf, place ribs on the serving plate, and purée vegetables and any liquid remaining in pot in food processor. Put ribs back into thickened sauce, and serve. Serves 2-3