I have had short ribs at a restaurant once or twice before, and been far from blown away. I thought I would try my hand at short ribs at home to see if I could improve on the dish. Keep in mind that braised short ribs are somewhat of a labor of love – they are not exactly an after-work 30-minute meal. Think more of a Sunday feast.
Don’t worry about peeling the skins off of the vegetables, but make sure to give them a good rinse to release any dirt that’s hiding on them (and remove any stickers, obviously). I made the mistake of purchasing bone-in short ribs as opposed to boneless short ribs, but this appeared to be for the best anyway. It takes a bit more effort to trim (although far easier than breaking down a chicken, hello!), but the bones and the fat trimmings really offer A LOT OF flavor when you add them to the braising pot. So, if you get boneless short ribs, make sure to buy at least one pack (1 lb. or so) with bones in them. If your broth at the end is a bit too watery at the end, even after you boil it to reduce it, you can always add a cornstarch slurry to it. Just take one teaspoon of cornstarch and mix with enough cold water to dissolve in a small bowl. Then whisk it into the sauce and bring to a boil to slightly thicken the sauce.
Timing: 4-5 hours
- 2 lbs. boneless beef short ribs, trimmed of fat, and cut into pieces of no more than 1 1/2- 2 inches
- 1 lb. of bone in beef short ribs, bones removed and reserved, and trimmed/cut as the boneless ribs are
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 6 slices of bacon, cut into one inch pieces
- 1 whole head of garlic, skin on, cut in half (not down the root, but down the “waist” of the garlic head)
- 2 onions, skins on, cut into eighths
- 4 shallots, skins on, cut into fourths
- 5-6 fresh thyme sprigs, left on the stalk
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 cups dry red wine (only use wine you’d drink…or of a quality you’d drink if you drank wine)
- 1/2 cup red/ruby port, divided
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken stock/broth
- 2 tablespoons dried thyme
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- Salt and pepper
Season the ribs with salt and pepper. Then slightly dredge in flour, making sure to shake off the excess flour. In a large stockpot or casserole (i.e. dutch oven), heat the oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, cook the ribs on all sides, until golden brown (do so in batches if need be). Do the same with the bones, so that any meat left on the bones will brown, too. Transfer the ribs and bones to a plate. Add the butter and bacon to the pot and cook for about 1-2 minutes to start the process. Then add in the garlic, onions, shallots, fresh thyme, and bay leaves. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are browned, about 5-10 minutes. Stir in the red wine and 1/4 cup of port and cook over medium heat until reduced by half, which should take about 5-8 minutes.
Return the short ribs to the pot, along with the bones and any juices that have developed on the plate. Add the chicken stock as well. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer until the meat is tender. This should take about 2 – 2 1/2 hours, but you will need to continually check the meat after 2 hours to make sure that the meat will shred easily using a fork. It helps to make sure that your heat is not too low, but not too high. You want small, occasional bubbles to form on the surface. Fish out the short ribs onto a plate and strain the sauce, making sure to press on the vegetables in a strainer to get all of those good juices out of the vegetables too. Return the sauce to the pot and cook over medium heat until reduced by 1/3, about 15 minutes. Add in the remaining port, dried thyme and cayenne pepper. Continue to boil until slightly thick. Taste for seasoning – you will most likely need to add in a considerable amount of salt here, but don’t forget the regular pepper either. Add bit by bit until you are satisfied with the taste. If you get impatient, you can add in the cornstarch slurry mentioned above and bring to a boil. Drop the heat down to medium-low and add the short ribs. Cook for about 5 minutes, until the short ribs are warmed through.
Divy up the short ribs onto plates, and spoon some of that sauce over (don’t be skimpy – this saucy lady would be disappointed if there wasn’t enough sauce!). I served my short ribs over some creamy garlic and goat cheese mashed potatoes to soak up some of that sauce, but feel free to serve over any starch you wish. Add some greenery to spruce up the color on the plate (clearly I was too hungry to do so, as evidenced in the photo). These heat up really well too, so make extra (no additional time really) if you want leftovers!