Braised Short Ribs

Monday, May 16, 2011

It seems like every season on Top Chef someone makes this and it wins, so I thought it was high time to try it myself. No sooner did I make up my mind on it my local farm started offering short ribs! This was clearly meant to be!

Short ribs are the rib cut of the cow or pork (with pork it's commonly called spare ribs rather than short ribs). With the beef, there is considerable more meat making it a popular choice cut. They can be served English cut, American flank cut style (preferred by Tom Colicchio), or cross cut like Koreans. In fact, if you're had Korean Ribs aka galbi then you're well acquainted with short ribs already. The meat can be rather tough, so depending on how they're cut, short ribs can be quickly grilled as with the thinner Korean ribs style or braised for a few hours as with the English and American cuts. If braising, traditional braising liquid of root vegetables, broth, and wine are commonly used but you can certainly do beer or just a rich beef broth.

My recipe below is largely based on the traditional braising technique involving onions, carrots, and celery. I then add red wine and beef broth for richness and flavor, and keep the aromatics quite simple with only fresh thyme and bay leaf. Then I took a cue from Mr. Tom C. and strained the braising liquid, poured it over the meat, and then broiled it for 10 minutes. The result was incredible -- the meat caramelized and got nice and crusty on the edges which was just so delicious and amazing. You can make this entire dish the day before, then simply broil the meat and sauce before you're ready to serve.

Traditional accompaniments range from mashed potatoes to risotto to plain white rice. Enjoy!

Braised Short Ribs
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 lbs English cut short ribs with bones
kosher salt
freshly ground pepper
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 celery ribs, sliced
3 garlic cloves, thickly sliced
1 cup dry red wine
3 cups beef broth
4 fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven. Season the ribs with salt and pepper on all sides. Add them to the pot and sear them on all sides until a nice brown crust forms. Remove and set the ribs aside (they will go back in later). Pour out excess oil, leaving about 1 tablespoon worth of oil/fat. Add the onions, carrots, and celery and season with some salt and pepper. Cook on medium heat until vegetables are quite softened, about 10 minutes. Add the thyme and bay leaf and garlic, and saute until garlic and herbs are fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the wine and broth and stir to combine. Place he ribs and any juices that accumulate during resting back into the pot and bring to a boil. Once boiling, cover tightly with lid and turn off heat. Transfer the pot to the oven and cook for about 2.5 hours, or until meat is extremely tender. Turn the meat over a couple of times during cooking. At 2.5 hour mark, remove the lid and continue cooking in the oven uncovered for 45 minutes so the sauce can reduce.

Remove from oven and take out the short ribs. Take the meat off the bone and place it into a shallow oven-proof dish (a lasagna dish work perfectly). Spoon out the vegetables and discard. Strain the sauce into a measuring cup. You want to remove the vegetable pieces and herbs to get a nice thin sauce. Skim off as much fat as you can from the strained sauce, then pour it all over the meat.

Set broiler to high. Place the meat in the broiler and cook about 10 minutes, turning once halfway through cooking. Take out and serve the meat on top of mashed potatoes or rice with some of the sauce spooned over.

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