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What to serve with short ribs for 25

Annual Christmas party coming up, and I've decided I want to make these short ribs:

Wondering if I should serve with mashed potatoes, polenta or buttered noodles*. The rest of the menu tentatively includes:
mini mac and cheese apps
some sort of dip/crudite/crackers
olives, cured meats

short ribs
side starch*
pasta/vegetarian entree TBD
roasted buttered mushrooms
salad of winter greens

chocolate something
blood orange tart


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  1. My first thought was that polenta for 25 will involve a LOT of stirring. Of the remaining two choices, I think the buttered noodles would be the least labor-intensive, so that would be my choice given everything else you have going on.

    1. All of your starches could work. Love them all. I'm partial to polenta and mashed potatoes. For the polenta, you could make it a day ahead, pour it into a sheet pan to set it, and rewarm it gently before serving.

      1. Polenta or orzo or a risotto might be labor intensive, but you can use some of the braising liquid from the short ribs to flavor the dish, which will really make it pop.

        1. My money is on the mashed.
          It mixes well with the sauce, you have a noodle in your app and possible main, and is more "comfort" oriented than the polenta.

          1. Wow, those are some serious short ribs--very special! I'd be all over the polenta option.

            You didn't really ask, but since you offered--are you sure you want mini mac and cheese for your starter? It's the one thing that *maybe* doesn't fit in with your otherwise very nicely rounded menu. Would you like mini caprese cups? I had these at a Christmas party--little bocconcini with grape tomatoes, basil and some balsamic.You could skewer them, even. I think they served them with a small round of bread, too.

            Other thoughts? I wish I was invited! :) Please let us know how the ribs turn out.

            2 Replies
            1. re: kattyeyes

              the mac and cheeses were a special request by a friend, and has now become a bit of a "thing" at the party. So they go in every year, even when they don't fit (and I always make a huge batch of mac and cheese, and freeze half of it for future dinners).

            2. I'd go with the mash (assuming the polenta is soft) as of the three it is the easiest to make ahead and reconstitute for 25. I am also noticing that although you menu looks delicious and I love your flavours, visually your mains are in brown tones and texturally quite soft. IMHO, I would suggest a crunchy green, orange or red vegetable in there instead of the mushrooms.

              1 Reply
              1. re: lunchslut

                I hadn't thought of the presentation color wise - hmmm, I was also looking at a roasted brussel sprouts & cauliflower with orange as a veggie side, so maybe I'll go with that one instead. It's funny, the three things that I was really drawn to this year, and started picking other things around, were the short ribs, mushrooms, and gingerbread. I must be going though a brown phase :)

              2. I'd go with Polenta... I'm not sure how others here have made polenta in the past, but I've never made it a point of stirring polenta. Actually, one of the best and easiest ways to make polenta is to saute your aromatics in some olive oil/ butter and add your liquid stir in your polenta and put it into an oven for 45mins or so. When it's ready (and it'll keep hot even outside of the oven for a good 30 minutes) to serve finish with cheese and butter and you're good to go.

                4 Replies
                1. re: mateo21

                  I really like your polenta method and will definitely try it. I also have not made a point of tending closely to my polenta for a long period of time. I use Bob's Red Mill and they cook quick, like 10 minutes tops, although the instructions call for more time.
                  I stir to get rid of any clumps then just open the lid once in a while to stir 2x and put the lid back on to avoid spillage from the "glugs".
                  What temp to you cook in the oven at?

                  1. re: monavano

                    i oven-cook polenta as well. no muss, no fuss, perfect every time, easily made a day ahead.

                    i agree about the color issues here. i've made a shredded brussels salad which is a big hit. shred very thinly, raw, on a mandoline, and toss with chopped almonds, and an orange-juice-based vinaigrette. finish with pomegranate seeds for color. you could serve crispy roasted green beans for a cooked veg.

                    instead of pasta for your veg friends, maybe a veg strudel, or layered veg lasagne (no noodles, use eggplant or zucchini as the layering component)? also can be made ahead and can be very variable.

                    1. re: hotoynoodle

                      I started thinking about a veg strudel - a few years ago I was going to make a spinach and cheese strata, but we got hit with a big snowstorm, the guest list dropped to 8, and so I dropped the strata. But maybe this is the year for it, and it will also add some color.

                  2. re: mateo21

                    That reminded me of a thread on cooking polenta, and that I'd seen the crockpot as an option. That might be perfect, because I can make it, keep it warm and creamy, and feel like I'm getting use out of a Christmas present that I"m having second thoughts about. A win win it looks like. Otherwise, the oven is a great idea - I'd never thought of doing it that way.

                  3. Excellent point about needing a pop of color for the presentation. I also use a gremolata (well, just the lemon zest and fresh parsley because I don't like raw garlic) for taste and presentation.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: monavano

                      You could do cous cous-super easy and great with short ribs.

                    2. Oven polenta. Or spaetzle. Agree on the parsley/zest garnish idea. Both of these would be delicious with the shortrib juices dribbling over them.