The debate didn't last long. "You could have used boneless beef short-ribs. You're paying for the bones when you buy them bone-in," my mother remarked while we were all enjoying this wonderful stew.
"It's better with the bones," my father and I replied, practically in unison. "Better flavor," dad added. "And then there's all that goodness from the marrow," said I.
Mom, not willing to give in so easily, said, "these bones are too small, I can't see any marrow." At this point, dad and I put our forks down and focused our gaze upon her.
"Mom, just because you can't see a hole in the bones, doesn't mean there's no marrow."
"But they couldn't have cooked long enough for anything to come out."
"They cooked for two and a half hours."
And so it goes. Lest you think that my dad and I unfairly give my mom a hard time, tonight both of them pounced on me for not knowing who Falstaff was. "Shakespeare, Henry IV!," said they, rolling their eyes the way they do when they realize how little I, the daughter of two teachers, really know.
By the way, my mother is right more often than not, though in this case, I'll stand by our assertion that this stew tastes better, and is better for you when cooked with the short ribs bone-in.
This recipe is adapted from one in an old Sunset Magazine. We used a malty brown ale in place of the beer the original recipe calls for and added carrots and turnips.
We love turnips in stews, though they have their own unique, somewhat bitter flavor; you can easily leave them out.
The Best Ale To Use in This Recipe
You want a malty brown ale to add lots of deep flavor to this stew. Brown ales and Belgian dubbel ales are malt-heavy and differ from beers like pilsners or IPAs that are more hop-heavy. Hops add bitterness to beer, which you don't want for this stew.
Try one of these beers.
- Newcastle Brown Ale
- Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale
- Samuel Smith's Nut Brown Ale
- Smuttynose Old Brown Dog
- Ommegang Abbey Ale
- Chimay Blue
Or, support your local craft brewery and ask what they have that's closest to brown ale that you can take home.
Substitutions for Ale
Ale is in the name of this short rib stew, so we strongly suggest using ale, but you can use a substitute in a pinch.
- Wine: Substitute a full-bodied red wine like Cabernet Sauvignon, Shiraz, or Malbec for the ale. Use 12 ounces of wine, or 8 ounces of wine plus 4 ounces of beef broth.
- Beef stock: If you don't want to use alcohol, substitute 12 ounces of beef stock for the ale.
Make it in the Slow Cooker
We haven't tried this in the slow cooker, but some commenters say it works well. If your slow cooker insert is stove top safe, use the insert on the stove top for Steps 1 through 6. If your insert is not stove top safe, use a heavy bottomed skillet for Steps 1 through 6 and then transfer everything to the slow cooker insert.
At Step 7, put the insert in the slower cooker and follow the remaining instructions using the slow cooker on low. Cooking time may take a little longer.
How to Store and Reheat This Recipe
Refrigerator: Cool completely and store tightly covered in the refrigerator for 3 to 4 days. Reheat on the stove stop over medium heat until heated through and the meat reaches 165° F.
Freezer: Cool completely and store and store in freezer safe zipper bag or container. Defrost in the refrigerator. Reheat on the stove stop over medium heat until heated through and the meat reaches 165° F.
More Beef Stew Recipes To Try
- Jamaican Beef Stew with Scotch Bonnets, Ginger and Allspice
- Slow Cooker Boeuf Bourguignon
- Kentucky Burgoo
- Beef and Barley Stew With Mushrooms
- Beef Goulash With Dumplings
Short Rib Beef Stew With Ale
Adapted from a recipe in Sunset Magazine, October 2007.
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons hot paprika
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
Freshly ground black pepper
4 pounds bone-in beef short ribs, trimmed of excess fat
4 slices thick-cut bacon
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 (12-ounce) bottle malty brown ale (we used Newcastle Brown Ale)
1 (14.5-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, chopped and juices reserved
2 pounds Yukon Gold or russet potatoes
2 large carrots
1 pound turnips, optional
Preheat the oven:
Preheat oven to 300°F.
Cook the bacon:
Place bacon strips in a large (5 to 6 quart), thick-bottomed Dutch oven. Set the heat to medium and cook the bacon until much of the fat has been rendered. Remove bacon to a paper-towel lined plate.
Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat from pot. (Do not pour down the drain or you will clog your drain when the fat hardens as it cools.)
Dredge the short ribs:
While the bacon is cooking, in a large bowl, whisk together the flour, hot paprika, smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 teaspoon of black pepper. Dredge the short ribs in the flour mixture.
Brown the short ribs in the bacon fat:
Add the short ribs to the pot with the bacon fat, taking care to not crowd the pot (work in batches if necessary). Brown on all sides, about 3 to 5 minutes per side.
If you want to get good browning, do not move the short ribs except to turn them.
While the short ribs are browning, chop the bacon and set aside.
Cook the onions and garlic:
Use tongs or a slotted spoon to remove the short ribs from the pot to a bowl. Add the chopped onions to the pot. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Cook until translucent, about 4 minutes.
Add the garlic and cook for an additional minute.
Add the ale and tomatoes:
Add the ale and, using a wooden spoon or spatula, scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan.
Add tomatoes and their juices and reserved bacon. Increase heat to high and bring mixture to a boil.
Cover and cook:
Return the short ribs to the pot, cover, put in the 300°F oven, and cook for 2 hours. (Alternatively, you can do the cooking on the stovetop, just lower the heat to the lowest setting and cover.)
Add the root vegetables:
Peel the potatoes, turnips (if using), and carrots, and cut into 1-inch pieces. Add to the pot, cover, and cook until the vegetables are tender and meat pulls away easily from the bone, about 30 to 45 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Some short ribs take longer to break down than others. If your short ribs are still tough, keep stewing them until they are fall-apart tender.
Remove the bones and excess fat before serving:
Spoon off the excess fat (it helps if you have a fat separator). If you want, remove the bones before serving and cut any big pieces of meat into smaller chunks.
For easy removal of the fat, let the stew cool, chill it in the refrigerator, and then remove and discard the solidified fat cap. As a bonus, the flavors of the still will have melded better by then.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 42g||54%|
|Saturated Fat 18g||92%|
|Total Carbohydrate 38g||14%|
|Dietary Fiber 5g||20%|
|Total Sugars 5g|
|Vitamin C 20mg||98%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|