You know those days when you sit around and idly wonder about the anatomy of a cow?
…so that’s just me?
I would love to take a class on butchering. It sounds both macabre and delightful. (I also enjoy saying the word “carcass” when I make chicken stock, because it’s basically the only time you can say “carcass” in a casual, socially acceptable manner.)
Things just got dark.
But the reason I started thinking about bovine bodies was sheer curiosity over the many kinds of “ribs” you hear about associated with cows. Rib roast, ribeye, back ribs, short ribs. It makes me wonder how one bone can be associated with so many different cuts of meat. Are they from different ribs? Identical ribs cut into different segments? I’m sure many people know the answer to these questions, but I am not one of them.
So short ribs carry some mystery with them. And not only because of their unknown anatomical origins, but also because they’re a cut I haven’t made very often in the past. My first couple attempts at short ribs ended up in a rather greasy mess. Grilling them, although highly recommended by a reputable cooking magazine, was not successful either. In fact, it wasn’t until recently that I learned…the secret of the short ribs.
Actually a little online digging revealed that this is an open secret, and one I will now share with you.
Ahem: make them the day before. Yup. You’ll do a long, slow braise in the oven the day before you want to serve them. Then you just chill them overnight, which allows the fat to rise to the top. The next day before serving, the fat will have separated, and all you have to do is scoop it off and throw it away. (Slightly obvious tip I’ll say anyway just in case: don’t try to wash the fat down your kitchen sink. Doesn’t end well.)
That one little secret takes care of the fattiness of the ribs and turns them into the easiest, sneakiest recipe ever. Not only that, but they are incredibly delicious: super tender, with a rich, savory sauce that pretty much begs to be paired with mashed potatoes or polenta. We served them with mashed potato gratin with browned butter, manchego, and horseradish – and it was amazing.
These ribs also say “special occasion,” since most people rarely go home on a Tuesday and cook up some short ribs – and with their easy prep, they’re perfect for a dinner party. Make them the day before, reheat in the oven, and poof, you’re done and everyone is impressed, happy, and full. Then you can have a lively conversation about butchering.
Adapted from Bon Appetit.
- 5 pound bone-in beef short ribs, cut crosswise into 2" pieces
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 3 medium onions, chopped
- 3 medium carrots, peeled, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 750-milliliter bottle dry red wine (preferably Cabernet Sauvignon)
- 10 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
- 8 sprigs thyme
- 4 sprigs oregano
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 2 fresh or dried bay leaves
- 1 head of garlic, halved crosswise
- 4 cups low-salt beef stock
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Season ribs on all sides with salt and pepper. Add the oil to a large dutch oven and heat on medium high on the stove. Add the short ribs and brown on all sides, about two minutes per side. Remove the ribs, set aside on a plate, and drain all but about three tablespoon of oil and drippings from the dutch oven.
- Add the onion, carrot, and celery to the dutch oven, and cook over medium heat for about five minutes, until the onion has softened. Add flour and tomato paste, stir to combine, and heat for another couple minutes.
- Add wine, short ribs. and any accumulated juices to dutch oven. Continue heating until the pot comes to a boil, then allow to simmer on medium heat for about 25 minutes, until wine has reduced by about half.
- Add herbs, garlic, and stock to the dutch oven. Heat until it comes to a boil, then cover and remove to the preheated oven.
- Cook for about 2 ½ hours, until short ribs are fork tender. They may fall off the bone before they are completely tender. Remove the short ribs from the pot and set aside. Strain the contents of the pot, reserving the sauce and discarding the vegetables. Return the ribs and sauce to the pot and cool to room temperature.
- Refrigerate the dutch oven for at least two hours, preferably overnight.
- About an hour before you plan to serve the short ribs, preheat the oven to 200 degrees, and remove the dutch oven from the fridge. There will be a layer of fat on the surface. Remove the fat and discard. Reheat the short ribs in the oven for about 45-60 minutes, until thoroughly warmed. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Serve the short ribs with the sauce over mashed potatoes or similar.