Braised beef short ribs are nothing new. Short ribs make consistent (and still welcome) appearances on many restaurant menus, and are a staple of wedding reception and other event dinners. But the dish’s popularity when dining out does not equal its popularity as a make-at-home dinner. Let’s change that. These red wine braised beef short ribs taste incredible, and require a lot less effort than you may think.
Why These Red Wine Braised Beef Short Ribs Work
Similar in flavor to a classic boeuf bourguignon, these short ribs combine all the right ingredients: juicy beef, carrots, celery, onion, garlic, and fresh aromatics like bay leaves, thyme, and rosemary.
Unlike bourguignon, which is a stew, braised beef short ribs are more like fall-off-the-bone tender meat with a silken red wine sauce with concentrated beefy, aromatic flavor.
What Is Braising? What If I Don’t Own a Braiser?
Braising, according to Larousse, is “a method of cooking food in a closed vessel with very little liquid at low temperature and for a long time.” In plain English: Put food in a pan, add a little fat and liquid, cover, and cook on low for a fairly long time.
That’s it. But what happens in a braiser, science-wise, that makes braised meat so tender? The magic lies in the convection cycle of the liquid. As the liquid in the pan begins to simmer, steam rises to the lid. The moisture collects under the lid, then drips back onto the meat, creating a gentle cooking cycle infused with concentrated flavor.
If you do not own a braiser, no problem. A regular pot will work. The key to hacking a braiser with a regular pot is to create a tight lidded seal and the proper distance between the food and the “roof.” Molly Stevens, the ultimate braising authority, suggests the following:
- Choose a pot wide enough to let the meat fit snugly in a single layer, and high enough for the liquid to come halfway up the meat.
- Make it so the pot’s “lid” is no more than a few inches from the top of the meat by laying a sheet of parchment over the meat, the edges extending outside the lid. Adding the parchment also reinforces the seal.
Recipe Notes: Red Wine Braised Beef Short Ribs
There are actually very few steps to this easy but sophisticated dish. Tenderize and season the meat with salt before then browning the short ribs. Browning the meat first is integral: It creates a delicious crust, and brings out that first layer of flavor.
After browning the meat, add the vegetables and aromatics to the pan, add the liquid, lay the beef on top, and let the braising pan — and time — do the rest.
These ribs benefit from a good, long braise: about three hours of cooking time. But this cooking time is only a gauge. You will know when the short ribs are done when you try to lift the beef from the pan and it falls apart.
Enjoy this with a side of buttered egg noodles, mashed potatoes, or even just some good, crusty bread.
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Red Wine Braised Beef Short Ribs
- 4 large cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 1/2 pounds bone-in beef short ribs
- 1 large celery stalk, rough chopped
- 4 large carrots, peeled and rough chopped
- 1 large onion, peeled and rough chopped
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 sprigs thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 generous sprig fresh rosemary
- 1 cup unsalted chicken stock
- 1 cup red wine (not cooking wine)
- Kosher salt and fresh-ground black pepper
A Day or Two Before
- Pat the short ribs dry with a paper towel. Trim the excess fat, taking care to leave on the silver skin and any sinew. Generously season both sides with kosher salt (about 2 teaspoons). Cover and chill for 1 or 2 days.
For the Braised Beef Short Ribs
- Heat the oven to 300°F. Remove the short ribs from refrigerator and pat dry any moisture. Heat the braising pan with the 1/4 cup olive oil, or enough to cover the bottom of the pot, over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add several of the short ribs and brown on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Repeat with the remaining ribs, adding more oil as necessary.PRO TIPS: Do not brown all the short ribs at once. You need space in the pan or the meat will steam and not brown. Also, do not be tempted to lift or turn the meat too soon. The beef will stick at first, but will release when it starts to brown.
- Set the short ribs aside on a plate, taking care to reserve the juices.
- Pour off most of the fat from the pot, leaving the good browned bits stuck on the bottom of the pot. Return the pot to medium heat. Add the celery, carrots, and onion. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables begin to soften and brown. Add the tomato paste, thyme, bay leaves, rosemary, and garlic. Cook, stirring, for one minute more.
- Add the red wine, stock, some fresh pepper, and 1 tablespoon kosher salt. Bring to a boil, stirring.
- Remove from the heat. Nestle the short ribs in a single layer amid the vegetables and liquid, and add any meat juice drippings that collected on the plate. The liquid should be no higher than halfway up the meat. Cover and place in a 300°F oven and cook for about 3 hours, turning the beef every hour or so. The short ribs are done when you try to lift them and the meat falls easily off the bone. PRO TIP: Check the short ribs about 20 minutes after you first put them in the oven. The liquid should be at a low simmer. If the simmer is too aggressive or boiling, reduce the oven to 285°F, then check again in 20 minutes.
- Remove the braiser from the oven. Carefully (tip: put a spatula underneath the meat) remove the short ribs and carrots from the braiser and set aside on a plate. Cover with foil to keep warm.
- Strain the braising liquid into a liquid measuring cup or gravy separator, discarding the remaining vegetables and aromatics. Allow the liquid to settle and separate. Spoon off the fat. You should have about 3/4 cup of remaining sauce, maybe a little less. Taste and adjust seasoning. You may want a little more salt.TIP: If you have more liquid than this, return the sauce to the braising pan and reduce over medium-high heat.
- Transfer the short ribs plates, along with a few carrots. Spoon some of the braising liquid around the beef and serve.