We’ve recently discovered that my husband has a profound affinity for all things braised. I’m not sure he could tell you what that means if you asked him but if it’s fatty, slow-cooked and somehow made its own sauce he’s going to be pretty pumped about it. It all started with this Bon Appetit Braised Pork Shoulder. I had always been pretty intimidated by those Duggar family-sized hunks of meat in the grocery store that are as large as my head. What do you do with all that meat? And what if you screw it up? YOU WASTED A WHOLE ANIMAL.
Beef short ribs are the happy medium. First of all, I’ve discovered braising is most satisfying when you buy “bone in” meat. The simple act of watching the meat actually fall off the bone when you take it out of the pot is nearly as good as that first bite. Beef short ribs are a pretty cheap cut of meet and, PROTIP: Braising is a thing in the first place because cheap, tough cuts of meat fare well when you cook them for a long time in liquid! It’s a Christmas miracle! I also like that beef short ribs come in normal human sizes like “1.5 lbs.” rather than the pork shoulders, which are sold by the metric ton.
You’ve got to try these ribs. They’re super easy and hands off – just be at home for a couple hours while they cook. You can serve them over mashed potatoes but I prefer them over cheesy grits because I’m pretty sure if you cut me open I would have cheddar cheese and cornmeal running through my veins.
BRAISED BEEF SHORT RIBS
original recipe courtesy Pioneer Woman
serves about 4 people
8 beef short ribs (bone in or bone out)
1/3 cup flour
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. butter
1 sweet onion, diced small
3 carrots, peeled and diced small
2 shallots, peeled and sliced into rings
2.5 cups red or white wine (this is not optional!)
3-4 cups beef broth
2 large sprigs Thyme
2 large sprigs Rosemary
***optional: mashed potatoes, cheesy grits
1. In a large, oven-proof Dutch oven, heat the olive oil and butter over medium-high heat. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Pat your ribs dry with a paper towel and lay them in a single layer on a plate. Salt and pepper them well then roll them around in the flour to lightly coat them. Using tongs, sear the beef ribs about 4 at a time – don’t crowd the pot or they’ll just steam – rotating often to brown all the sides. Place them back on the plate and turn the heat down to medium.
2. Add the onions, carrots, and shallots to the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes. Pour in the wine then scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan (white or red will work but you need the acidity of the wine to break down the meat while it cooks!) Using tongs, place the meat back in the Dutch oven in as flat a layer as possible, nestling them down into the vegetables. Pour over the beef broth until the meat’s about 3/4 of the way covered. Add in the herbs and season liberally with salt and pepper. Reserve any extra broth for evaporation while cooking.
***Don’t be tempted to skip the shallots! They add this mild, layered tanginess that’s hard to articulate.
3. Place the covered pot in the middle of the oven and cook for 2 hours at 350 degrees. At that point, take off the lid and see if you need to add some more broth to keep the meat nearly covered. Also take this chance to rearrange the ribs so the naked pieces get submerged. Put the lid back on, lower the oven to 325 degrees, then cook an additional 45 minute to 1 hour. Let the pot rest about 15-25 minutes before you serve it. The excess fat will float to the top of the cooking liquid and you can easily take it out with a spoon. Each person gets 2 beef ribs and a ladle of sauce/veggie business.
This dish is wholly inappropriate for hot summer weather but sometimes you just need some beef short ribs, you know? Try them. And if someone tells you’re they’re training for a triathlon or something nonsensical like that, probably don’t serve them these. Make some quinoa or something.