How To Braise Short Ribs

November 22, 2010 · Posted in Recipes 

Braise (n) : to cook meat or vegetables by browning in fat, then simmering in a small quantity of liquid in a covered container.

– American Heritage Dictionary

Braising is easily one of the most satisfying and rewarding ways to cook a meal for yourself and guests.  The technique at its core is easy, you use cheaper cuts of meat, and it makes your house smell amazing for hours.  It will also impress everyone, and make them think you’re a much better cook than you actually are.  You don’t have to tell them you were really playing Call of Duty for the three hours these short ribs sat in the oven, slowly soaking in that amazing flavor.

In a sentence, you brown your cut of meat, saute the aromatics (vegetables), create your braising liquid, and then simmer this mixture for a few hours, depending on your cut of meat.  We’re going to go over short ribs so for our purposes it will be about 2 hours in total.

Braising is probably my favorite way to cook, even over grilling.  You can constantly experiment with your recipes, your techniques, and results are almost always spectacular.  This is a fairly straightforward base you can use with short ribs, brisket, or any other tougher, cheaper cut of beef.

Ingredients

Two bottles of a heavier red wine

4 lbs short ribs, bone-in or boneless, whatever you can get.

3 to 4 tablespoons butter or oil. (Really, you should use butter)

One medium onion, chopped
One medium carrot, chopped
Two to three stalks celery, chopped
Two cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup sugar
Two cups chicken broth
One spring each rosemary, thyme, oregano. (ok to substitute dried herbs if you need)

Again, this is a basic blueprint.  We’ll give you some advanced tips at the end.

How To:

Pre: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees, chop everything, maybe throw on the soundtrack to Vicky Cristina Barcelona.

1) Open both bottles of wine.  Immediately pour glasses for yourself and guests.  (This is a how to PROPERLY braise short ribs, not just some recipe.  Also, you aren’t really cooking short ribs for yourself, are you?  Are you???)

2) In a heavy, cast iron pan heat two tablespoons butter over medium high heat.  Take turns browning the short ribs on all sides, 4 to 5 minutes per side.  Do this in multiple batches if need be.  Scrap up any burned bits from the pan when done.

Short ribs loving them some butter

"Fired up, ready to go!"

3) Once the short ribs are all browned, and back outside the pot (like in the picture above) it’s time to create the base for the liquid.  Melt the remaining butter over medium high heat, and saute the onion, celery, and carrot until they start to soften.

4) When the vegetables begin to brown, add the garlic and cook for an additional minute.  Then add the second bottle of wine, stock or broth, sugar, and herbs.  Stir to combine.

5) Add the meat back to the pan, cover, and put into the oven.  Cook for about two hours, until the meat falls apart with a fork.  The great thing about braising is that it’s very difficult to overcook the meat.  Check it maybe twice during cooking, to make sure the sauce isn’t boiling but other than that just let it be.

6) When the meat is ready, remove the pan from the oven and spoon the meat out.  Place the pan over high heat and reduce the sauce down by 2/3 or more.  The more you reduce the sauce, the more concentrated the flavor gets.  Season with salt and pepper if you need to.  You can also add butter or flour as a thickening agent at this point.

Braising liquid reducing.

7) To serve – plate some mashed potatoes, a parsnip and celery root puree, polenta, etc.  (You didn’t make any?  Well maybe if you weren’t playing Call of Duty you would have had time to!  Not my problem.)  Spoon one to two short ribs on the plate, and top with sauce.  It should look like this.

You don't have to go to Jared if you can do this.

How to Take This to the Next Level

Okay, a few tips on really making this thing incredible.

1 – Marinate marinate marinate.  Take the short ribs and place them in the bottle of wine for 24 hours before you start this process.  Well, maybe take the wine out of the bottle and put it into a baking dish first.  Getting short ribs into a bottle of wine would be pretty amazing.  Something the guys at Alinea probably do for fun.  To the wine, add your herbs, whole peppercorns, maybe garlic?  Lots of options here.

2 – Cook this whole thing a day before.  Prepare through step 5, and then let it cool and refrigerate until tomorrow.  Then reheat, reduce, and relax.  If you combine 1 and 2 here, you all of a sudden have short ribs that took three days to get to plate, but trust me it’s worth it.

3 – Purists may insist you strain the sauce before reducing, taking out all meat and veggies.  This is fine, but I don’t have a dishwasher and don’t like making unnecessary work for myself.  So I reduce everything together.  But you can get a thicker sauce if you strain everything.  But keep the veggies – they taste awesome.  Again, to the sauce you can add butter, salt, spices, flour, anything to spice it up.

4 – Replace some of the red wine with port.

5 – Use bacon fat instead of butter.  Add the reserved bacon to the sauce a few minutes before the reduction is done and serve like that.

That’s a pretty solid braising recipe.  Check out Molly Steven’s book “All About Braising” for some great recipes, utilizing every kind of meat around.

Check back soon – we’ll be deep frying turkeys on Thanksgiving!

Happy Braising!

P.S. – Guys, this is a can’t-lose recipe for that special someone in your life.  When you say you’re going to “take meat, add wine, and make it tender over a copule hours of low and slow heat” she doesn’t think you’re just talking about the short ribs.  Trust me on this one.

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