My father made the most succulent, tender, "Wow" beef short ribs this week. Yes, it is a 2-day process, but the actual hands-on cooking time is at most two hours and is broken up over two days.
It is really quite easy to make!
The Key to Braised Short Ribs
The key step is after the initial slow cooking, to let the beef short ribs cool and then chill overnight in the refrigerator. This makes it much easier to remove the generous amount of excess fat that ends up solidifying in the chilling process.
The ribs also spend the whole night absorbing the flavor of the stock.
Other Tips for Great Beef Short Ribs
- Use good wine. You must use a good bottle of wine, a wine you like to drink. The better the wine, the better the result.
- Use veal stock. Veal stock can be hard to find. We got ours at our local butcher. Use it if you can get it. If not, beef stock will do.
The recipe on which this dish is based came from the Campton Place restaurant in San Francisco. (We found it in a magazine years ago, but we can't identify which magazine from the clipping.)
What Are Short Ribs?
Short ribs are cut from the chuck portion of beef, near the breast bone. The meat on these bones is too small to be cut into steaks, so they're turned into short ribs. Tougher than many steaks but usually more full of flavor, short ribs are a great candidate for braising, which helps to tenderize them.
What Is Braising?
Braising is a cooking method that's used with meat or vegetables. The food is placed in a pot with a complimentary liquid. The pot gets covered, and the food is cooked low and slow on the stovetop or in the oven. As the food slowly cooks, the liquid enhances the food's flavor. And, in the case of a tough cut of meat, it helps to tenderize the meat. In the case of this rib recipe, the braised meat becomes fork tender.
Can I Substitute the Wine in This Recipe?
Technically, you can substitute water or stock, but the flavor will be much less robust. A better non-alcoholic substitute would be to use more stock spiked with a hefty dose of balsamic vinegar and a dab of tomato paste. The flavor won't be the same as if you had used wine, but it will still be worth making.
If you're not opposed to alcohol, but just don't enjoy the flavor of wine, try using using a 750ml bottle of stout instead and braise the short ribs with beer instead of wine. Or, try this Slow Cooker Bourbon Short Ribs with Cheesy Grits recipe. Using the slow cooker is another way to tenderize short ribs.
What to Do If the Sauce Lacks Body
If you use beef stock instead of veal stock, the reduced sauce in Step 7 may not be as thick and glaze-like as a sauce made with veal stock. Veal stock usually has more collagen than beef stock, and that collagen works as a thickener. Also, if you chose to use boneless short ribs instead of bone-in, there will be less collagen to assist in thickening.
If your reduced sauce lacks body, use one of these methods.
- Thicken the sauce like you would a gravy by whisking cornstarch or flour into cold water and slowly adding the cornstarch mixture into the sauce. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to medium high, and after a few minutes, the sauce will thicken.
- Add a pig's foot or chicken foot to the stock as it's reducing. The collagen in the bone will thicken the sauce. Discard the foot before serving.
- Dissolve 1/2 teaspoon of gelatin in 1/4 cup of cold water. Let it sit for 3 to 5 minutes and then add it to the sauce as it simmers and whisk it until it's thickened. Do not bring the sauce to a boil.
How to Store and Reheat Leftover Beef Short Ribs
To store leftover short ribs, place them in an airtight container in your refrigerator for 3 or 4 days. Reheat over medium heat on the stovetop in a pot with a lid on it, checking frequently and stirring until heated through.
To freeze these leftover short ribs, freeze them with their sauce in an airtight, freezer-safe container that's a tight fit for them (you don't want too much air in the container or they'll get freezer burn). Or, place them in a freezer-safe zip top bag and remove all the air. Freeze for up to three months. Defrost in the refrigerator and reheat on the stovetop.
Sides to Serve with Your Short Ribs
- Creamy Polenta
- Garlic Mashed Potatoes
- Cheesy Risotto with Leeks and Crispy Sage
- Zucchini and Spinach Gratin
- Cider Vinaigrette Roasted Root Vegetables
Braised Beef Short Ribs
- 12 beef short ribs, bone-in, about 6 pounds
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 yellow onion, peeled and chopped
- 1 stalk celery, chopped
- 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
- 1 750 ml bottle good dry red wine (we used a Zinfandel)
- 6 cups veal stock (or substitute beef stock)
Brown the ribs:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Season ribs to taste with the salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large, heavy bottomed ovenproof pan over high heat. Add ribs and brown on all sides. Work in batches if you need to so that the ribs don't get crowded (this will help with browning).
Transfer ribs to a plate. Pour off the excess fat (do not put down the drain or you will clog your sink!). Add the onions, celery, and carrots to the pan and sauté, stirring often, until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Remove the vegetables from the pan, set aside.
Deglaze pan with wine, then reduce sauce:
Add the wine to the pan, deglazing the pan, scraping off any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Reduce the wine by three-quarters until thick and slightly syrupy, about 15 minutes on high heat.
Braise ribs in oven:
Return the ribs to the pan, add the veal stock and enough water to cover the ribs. Bring to a boil, cover with foil, and place in the oven. Braise, cooking in the oven, until the meat is fork-tender, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.
During the last 1/2 hour of cooking, add back in the vegetables.
Allow the ribs to cool in the liquid, then cover and refrigerate overnight.
Remove excess fat:
The next day, remove the excess fat that has solidified at the top from the overnight chilling.
Reduce sauce with ribs:
Place the pan with the ribs and cooking liquid over medium heat, uncovered. Cook until the liquid has reduced by three-quarters, about 1 hour. Continue to cook, spooning the sauce over the ribs, until the sauce is thick and ribs are glazed. Take care not to burn the glaze; move the ribs around in the pan to keep them from burning.
Serve over mashed potatoes, egg noodles, or rice.