Braised Short Ribs

braised-short-ribsBraised short ribs is one of my comfort foods.  My Mother didn’t make this recipe for us, but in my family we had a Sunday roast every week and this slow-cooked meat with a velvet sauce reminds me of Sundays at home.

This is my choice for a recipe for dinner parties.  The texture and taste always pleases guests.  Braised Short Ribs is easy to plate and always looks impressive.  Finally, the prep that requires me to stay in the kitchen is minimal and I can do my table scape and get cleaned up while it braises in the oven.

Braised Short Ribs Recipe

Braised Short Ribs
Recipe Type: Main Course
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6 servings
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or vegetable oil (use an oil with a high smoke point)
  • 4-6 English Cut Beef Short Ribs (trimmed of excess fat — approximately 2 pounds)
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
  • 4-6 sprigs of fresh thyme (you can substitute 1/2 teaspoon or dried thyme if you can’t find fresh)
  • 1 dry bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 3-4 cups of beef stock
  • fresh parsley for garnish
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
  2. Chop the vegetables into similar size pieces
  3. Roughly chop the garlic
  4. Preheat the oil on medium high heat until oil reaches shimmer stage.
  5. Season the short ribs with salt and pepper.
  6. Sear the ribs in the oil until brown — approximately 3-4 minutes per side.
  7. Remove the ribs to a plate while you cook the vegetables.
  8. Add onion, carrot and celery to the pan drippings. Stir occasionally until softened. This should take approximatel 5-6 minutes. Add garlic and cook only until fragrant — about a minute.
  9. Add thyme sprigs and bay leaf and stir gently.
  10. Melt butter into vegetables. When the butter has completely melted, sprinkle the mixture with flour and stir for about 3 minutes until the flour hydrates and the mixture appears dry.
  11. Add the wine and stock and stir. Return the ribs to the pot. The ribs should be immersed in the liquid about 1/2 way.
  12. Cover and place the pan in the oven for two hours.
  13. Remove the ribs from the pan and strain the vegetable mixture through a fine mesh strainer. Return just the liquid to the pot. Reduce the sauce until it is thickened and velvety smooth (this shouldn’t take too long).
  14. Serve ribs with the sauce and garnish with parsley.
  15. Serve over mashed potatoes or with any two vegetable sides.

 

When you braise foods you first sear or fry them to quickly develop flavors in the bottom of the pot, then gently stew those meats or vegetables until they are tender.  Because braising requires foods to be submerged in liquids for a long cook, it is best used with heartier meat cuts or with vegetables that are fibrous enough to withstand the long cooking time.

Suitable meat cuts are brisket, ribs, chops, chucks and cuts that have significant marbled fats and long fibrous muscle strands.  Vegetable choices are root vegetables, leeks, cabbage and greens.

For my Braised Ribs, I like to first remove any visual silver skin from the ribs and cut out any hard marbled fat blocks.  The silver skin protected the muscle in the meat cut from injury and unfortunately it will toughen during cooking and become chewy.  Likewise a heavy fat cap on the ribs or blocks or hard fat will not melt during cooking and should be removed with a sharp knife at this point.

Before starting the cooking process I like to cut up all the vegetables.  The stove top cooking goes very quickly so having everything chopped ensures the ribs don’t get overcooked or heat up and cool down too quickly before the braising liquid is added.

The Perfect Short Rib Braising Pan

Perfect braising pan - short ribs cook perfectlyA braising pot is a heavy skillet, everyday chef’s pan, or even a large soup pot.  Braising pots usually don’t have high sides — about 3-4 inches deep — and they have a well-fitting lid so you can keep all the liquids from evaporating during cooking.   I personally use a Lodge Braising Pan as pictured here.    It’s a 3-quart capacity which is capable of holding  10 good-sized ribs or a brisket for a family of four.  It’s available for about $60 and costs about 30% as much as the famous Le Creuset braiser.

Lodge is the leading manufacturer of cast iron pans and like Le Creuset, this braising pan might be too heavy for people with dexterity issues. Braising pans need to accommodate liquid and meats A good alternative is the All-Clad 18/10 4-quart week night pan.  A braising pan always has to have some heft to it to properly conduct heat evenly, but the design of this pan, with its balanced handle and easy helper handles make it easier for people with arthritis or dexterity issues. The All-Clad Week Night pan is $199 with a 5-ply bottom surface that is also safe for induction cooking.

The Short rib Cooking Process

Place a large heavy bottom pot with 2 tablespoons of olive oil or vegetable oil over medium-high heat and let it pre-heat until the oil begins to shimmer. Season the ribs liberally with salt and pepper.  Sear them in the pot until deep golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes per side.  Work in batches if necessary and don’t over crowd the pan — leave an inch or two  between each rib so that they sear and they don’t steam.   Remove the ribs to a plate.

Reduce the heat to medium.  Add the onion, carrots and celery to the pot and cook.  Stir them occasionally until tender — about 5-6 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for a minute until the fragrant.  Stir in the thyme and bay leaves and then melt the butter into the vegetables.  When the butter has melted, sprinkle the flour over the mixture and toss to coat.  Gently stir the vegetables and flour allowing the flower to cook and hydrate for another 2-3 minutes.  Add the wine and stock to the pot and bring the liquid up to a boil.  Nestle the ribs back into the mixture and cover with the lid.  (If your pot doesn’t have a lid, you can cover tightly with aluminum foil carefully sealing all the edges.)

Place the pot into the oven and cook for approximately 2 hours.

Remove the cooked ribs from the pot and cover them  to keep them warm.  Pour the remaining vegetables and liquids through a fine mesh strainer, pressing gently to remove all the liquid.  Discard the solids and return the liquid to the pot over medium heat.  Reduce the sauce until thickened and velvety as necessary.  Season as needed with salt and pepper.

(I hate wasting or discarding anything.  The vegetables strained from the sauce as soft but very flavorful.  If you save them, mix them with any left over rib meat–if you are lucky enough to have them–and beef stock for a quick next day soup.)

Serve the ribs with the sauce and garnish with chopped parsley.

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