Braised Beef Short Ribs with Malbec Gravy

by Damon Payne 28. December 2012 12:13

As I continue my introspective end of the year thoughts I am reminded of a request from a buddy: start blogging my recipes. If you’ve ever looked at the Flickr stream over on the right hand side of the current blog layout, you may notice that a lot of the pictures are of food. I assure you I’m a much better cook than photographer. While many of the things I make come directly from Cook’s Illustrated or Food Network, some are my own creations. While this hardly fits with the technology focus of my blog, it’s who I am.
So, my amigo in Nashville, this is for you.

Braised Beef Short Ribs with Malbec Gravy

This recipe uses classic French techniques to produce tender meat and flavorful sauce.

* 4-7 beef ribs, trimmed of excess fat
* Two tablespoons of unsalted butter
* Two medium onions, diced
* Four cloves of fresh garlic, minced
* Fresh thyme
* 1 heaping tablespoon of unbleached all-purpose flour
* 1 tbsp tomato paste
* Kosher salt
* Fresh-cracked pepper
* 4 slices of thick cut bacon
* Two celery stalks, sliced thick
* Two large carrots, peeled and sliced thick
* Two bay leaves
* 14-20 ounces of crimini or button mushrooms
* 2 cups of beef broth
* 1 bottle of Malbec

Pre-heat your oven to 300.

Allow the beef ribs to come up to room temperature and sprinkle with Kosher salt. If possible, allow them to rest on a wire rack for up to 1 hour before cooking. While the beef rests, pour the Malbec into a saucepan and reduce until it’s about 1 cup; this may take around ten minutes.

 Cut the bacon into ¼” pieces and brown in an oven safe saucepan or searing pan, a Dutch oven will do in a pinch. If your culture forbids the eating of delicious swine, skip this step and use 2tbsp of vegetable oil instead. When the bacon is browned, remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside. Depending on how fatty the bacon was you may wish to remove some of the rendered fat from the pan at this point. Season the beef ribs with pepper and sear on each side for about 1 minute over high heat. Remove the ribs and set aside.

Add the onions and brown until soft and translucent, this make take up to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and briefly cook until fragrant, around 30 seconds, be careful not to burn the garlic. Now add the flour and mix with the onions. Cook until the flour is browned, maybe as long as 2 minutes or so.

Side note: Why add the flour at this point and brown it? Many soups & sauces start with a base mixture called a roux, pronounced “roo”. A roux is often as simple as vegetable oil and flour cooked until the flour is copper colored. When flour is manipulated in this manner it forms gluten proteins, and some of it will stick to your pan. This is the good stuff that will make for thick, hearty sauce later on. This will also mean you won’t have to add flour later or do as much reducing to get the sauce to the consistency you want. You can skip this step and use a little corn starch later to make this gluten free.

With the flour browned, pour in the beef broth to deglace the pan. Make sure to scrape the pan diligently to remove anything that’s stuck to it: that’s the goodness. Turn the heat to high and add the carrots, celery, bay leaves, thyme, reduced Malbec, bacon, tomato paste, and bay leaves. Once the mixture is simmering, nestle the beef ribs in the pan, cover with foil, put in the oven and cook for a long time. I suggest at least four hours, but you can check for desired tenderness at any point after an hour.

Once the ribs have reached the desired tenderness, remove them from the sauce, turn off the oven and let them rest in there on a pan. Pour the sauce mixture through a strainer into a bowl to remove all the solids. Wash the mushrooms, halve or quarter them, and sear them briefly in the original sauce pan.  Add the strained sauce back in and cook over high heat until the mushrooms are tender and the sauce is reduced to your desired consistency. Add the butter and whisk to combine. You can pour the sauce right over the ribs, I myself tend to serve this with mashed potatoes and parsnips.


Personal | Food

The Future of Retail

by Damon Payne 27. December 2012 15:40
TL;DR – The retail industry should look closely at current and future reality. Many retail businesses should accept that consumers like “kicking the tires” at brick-and-mortar locations, but want the prices and service of etailers like Create a hybrid model where you go try that TV out at a Best Buy a few miles away, but it nearly always ships from a warehouse rather than you taking it home that instant.
Over the past 15 years I have watched industry after industry fight the advance of technology.

Let's think about some industries in the age of the Internet:

Real Estate.

The way we’re doing things now are profitable, proven, known, safe, comfortable.

Some of these battles are still going on; some of them are clearly over. I’m sure I’m not the first person to observe that each of these industries faced a challenge, a choice, and an opportunity. The challenge is that old models are clearly going to be attacked. Consumers want something new. Consumers can see that the technology exists for them to get what they want in the way they want it. The choice and opportunity is to either fight the new way, or to own it. The music industry could have owned digital content distribution. They chose to fight it instead, and now Apple is eating their lunch. I have a few contacts in all areas of the music business and related fields including artists, studio owners, and electronics manufacturers. They all live in fear of Apple. Apple says how high to jump. Apple owns it, because they waited too long and fought too hard.

Listing your home, inexpensively, using the Internet works. Your local Realtor would surely rather you pay them a 6% commission to do the same job. In my state and others, they spend a lot of money lobbying state legislatures to craft incredibly ridiculous laws that make some parts of the business models of Zillow, Trulia, or our own, illegal: under the guise of “protecting consumers” of course. The truth is these are all distortions of reality. It is reality that consumers want and can get music electronically: one way or another. It’s reality that when I sold my last house I paid $500 and a real estate attorney $400 and saved a fortune in commissions. When you tell consumers to ignore the man behind the curtain so you can keep doing what you have always done, you eventually lose.

What Year Is It?


I have, many times, been standing in a Best Buy needing help. For a long time. Maybe I need an employee to scan this iPad to tell me if it’s the new retina display model (it’s not indicated clearly on the box). Maybe I need to know if this TV is in stock. I’ve also had a 16 year old who doesn’t realize they’re talking to a life long Audio/Video nut try to tell me what this amazing Monster Cable is going to do for my sound system. I feel like Best Buy is practically pushing me out of their stores towards online sellers.
 As I consider myself an ethical person, I feel downright slimy on the (extremely few) cases where I have “kicked the tires” on an item in a store and simply bought it for less online. In other cases, like Best Buy, I feel they had a chance to earn my business and failed miserably. In still other situations, I went to Kohl’s to buy a pair of shoes and they didn’t have my size in stock. The salesperson dutifully offers to order them and they’ll be in in a week. A week? What year is it? Amazon will have these to me in two days, thank you very much. Now Amazon is even working on Same Day Delivery!

So What Should Retail Do?


Admit to reality and work witin reality?
There are obvious benefits from being able to walk into a brick and mortar location and kick the tires on electronics, clothing, etc. The cost of having a big enough store to have hundreds of TVs and 300 of the latest Xbox in stock is huge. The models for how the stores are ran and laid out are ancient. is just going to undercut you anyway. Consumers want to kick the tires and then buy online, so embrace this model.
I can envision a future where I walk into an branded electronics store. They have ONE of various models of TV, ONE BluRay player, etc. I can kick the tires. Only the most obvious new release movies & music are there for me to carry out of the store. Only the most current game releases are in stock. They have close to zero shipping/fulfillment because there’s essentially no inventory, no more in the back. There are kiosks positioned throughout the store where I can sign in and order the TV I was just looking at. I get my Amazon points, my Amazon Prime shipping, and everything else I’ve grown accustomed to since first becoming a customer in 1997 or so.
Best of all, I have not a shred of guilt. The store manager isn’t looking at me sideways, knowing I’m going to go home and shop around for the best deal on that wine ‘fridge. Retail will only exist in its current form in Boutique settings.


Business | Technical Community

On Silverlight and the Dangers of Over-specialization

by Damon Payne 26. December 2012 17:45

It’s been quite a long time since I’ve written any new Silverlight code. Reduced solely to its core suite of technologies, Silverlight is certainly still as cool as it was two years ago. I am probably not alone, though, in claiming that I see less and less interest in Silverlight as time goes by.
In my opinion, Steve Jobs killed the browser plugin ecosystem overnight with his anti-Flash rants and refusal to give Flash a place on the iPad. We are living in the renaissance of the front end web developer. To a large degree, I don’t mind this. It’s been years since jQuery took a way a great deal of the pain of Javascript, and projects like Foundation are taking away the pain of CSS. No, we’ve come a long way since my days of pre-Ajax hacking with posting-back hidden iframes. Sure, a type system would be a huge boon to larger in-browser efforts, but maybe TypeScript will save us.

Assimilate or Perish

There are other reasons why people began to drift away from Silverlight, of course. Microsoft, too, didn’t help matters. Microsoft has a lot of means by which it interacts with people and companies using its products in interesting ways: The MVP program, TAP programs, early-access programs, Insider Programs, Metro (not the UI framework) programs, and I’m probably forgetting at least six others. The companies and people that participate in these programs gain the ability to influence products but also a huge head start at building knowledge which is a nice competitive advantage. If your company decides to use a new feature of SQL Server, would you rather hire a consultant who’s been influencing the product under an NDA for a year, or someone who just got access at the same time you did? For this reason, there’s a very large community of people and companies for whom it pays big to align with Microsoft, lock step.

An investment in Silverlight may not quite seem like it belongs in the same category as, say, betting your business on SQL Server, but there are some additional factors. As I am fond of saying, when you choose a technology platform, you are also choosing the community behind that platform. If something like Silverlight is perceived as being on its way out, will you attract career-conscious engineers to work with you by espousing it? If you depend on your relationship with a giant vendor like Microsoft and they are shifting their direction in a particular area, hadn’t you better shift as well or risk losing their attention and good will?

Is that my cheese over there?

My programming career has seen me through BASIC and Pascal, through Solaris, Windows NT, and Mac OS X, through C# and PERL and, SQL. I never considered myself a “Silverlight guy” but rather a lifelong polyglot and ever-learning student. My public identity, though, was very much tied to things like Silverlight.  This is, in great part, responsible for my “dropping off the grid” for the latter part of 2012. True, I was also growing weary of the type of sessions user groups and code camps seem to want, but more on that later.

While the technical merits of Silverlight remain true, the marketplace of ideas seems to have moved past it. In fact, if I had to explain why I think a technology gets adopted, I think I’d say something like this:


Many of these aspects are related yet distinct. Marketing can include things like Hype (Everyone is on GitHub and StackExchange writing Python now!) Mandates may mean something like forcing developers to learn Objective-C to take advantage of the Opportunity represented by the iOS marketplace.

The small glimpse of the obsolescence that comes with betting on the wrong horse left me in a funk for a while. I went into maintenance mode and didn’t innovate much for quite a while as I cast about looking for where I would invest my energies next. More on that later too, but I believe I’ve found a basket of things to start talking about. While for a while it seemed there was nothing in Microsoft DevDiv with so much momentum as Silverlight, life goes on. Software is still eating the world. It’s a great time to be a software developer, adapt and carry on.

I’m having as much fun as I ever have.




About the author

Damon Payne is a Microsoft MVP specializing in Smart Client solution architecture. 

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