Cooking is about time and timing. Judging by the lines at the drive-thrus on any given weeknight, Americans want food quickly. Sometimes, that's a good thing--a pre-packaged salad, a bagel from Panera. But other times good food needs time for flavors to marry, for fat to render and taste to blossom.
When I started cooking, I swore I wouldn't be one of those cooks who marinated meats overnight or spent seven hours making ONE cake (that recipe coming soon, LMAO). Then I went on the search for a beautiful, exquisite, fancy recipe for this blog, and I found one for Braised Short Ribs in the February issue "Bon Appetit." I'd had a recipe before, but it didn't have that taste that justified the time invested.
Then I tried the magazine's version with cheaper wines and my own touches. The result was nothing short of amazing. I'd never thought I'd be able to make anything like this in my life. This recipe had me seriously contemplating culinary school as I was so proud of the result.
So, yes, this recipe is a lot of work and requires a lot of time. But it is amazing and more importantly, it's do-able. Make it for your man or your mother or your friends, and take the time to soak in their praises.
4 pounds or 8 to 10 short ribs
Salt (both kosher and table)
6 Fresh Thyme Sprigs
½ to 1 medium onion, chopped
3 to 4 carrots, peeled and sliced diagonally in half-inch coins
2 to 3 bay leaves
1 ½ cup of red wine (Chianti is best)
½ cup port
3 tablespoons of Balsamic Vinegar
1 ½ to 3 cups of low sodium beef broth
Season all sides of short ribs with generously with kosher salt, pepper and dried thyme. Let rest for 10 to 15 minutes.
Heat a large pot over medium-high heat and add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. When oil is hot, add ribs, fat side down and brown on all meaty sides, about 5 to 7 minutes per side. NOTE: This process can take awhile, so I usually chop my vegetables while the meat is browning as not to rush it. You should probably work in batches of 4 to 5 ribs each.
When ribs are browned, set aside on a plate. Drain off all of all of the oil and drippings from pan except for about 2 to 3 tablespoons. Toss onions into pot over medium heat and sweat until fragrant and they beginning to soften, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add carrots, fresh thyme sprigs, bay leaves and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, for a few minutes. I use the edge of my spoon and bruise the thyme sprigs to release more flavor.
Add wine and port to pot. Stir to combine, and cook until it begins to boil lightly for about 3 to 5 minutes before adding the balsamic vinegar and 1 ½ cups of broth. Let mixture come to a boil again and cook for 5 to 7 minutes to concentrate flavor. Taste mixture. It should be flavorful and well-balanced. If anything it is not to your liking, add more wine, port or broth. Adjust seasonings as you like.
Place ribs back into pan, bone side up. Nestling them together can be tricky, but try to get them into one layer. Broth should just cover the meat. If it doesn’t, add more chicken broth. Cover and simmer on low for one hour.
Check ribs. Bones may have loosened or fallen off completely. This is good! Keep them in the pot. If you can turn or flip the ribs, go ahead, just make sure bone side is still up. If the liquid has reduced a lot, add more broth. You also may want to check and adjust seasonings, sparingly. Cover and simmer for another 90 minutes.
NOTE: We’ve now entered what I call the Beef Stealer phase of this long process. This is when the house smells of delectable simmering meat, and people, like parents or even neighbors, come out of the woodwork to hover around the pot. They tell that they thought you left the pot on and IT’S GOING TO BURN! So they’ll check it and taste it for you. You know, to save it. You must guard the pot. Use your chef’s knife if you have to. The finished product will be worth it. But you, The Chef, can steal all the beef you want.
After the longest 90 minutes of your culinary life, ribs are done and braised. Taste them. They should be tremor-worthy good…so buttery soft, you can cut them with a fork. If they are still a little chewy, braise for 30 more minutes.
This is generally when you can stop for the day and put them away once the ribs have cooled—ribs in one container and the liquid and a few bones in another. I know it’s hard, but do this and your heart will thank you (If you do not want to wait until the next day, pour cooled braising liquid into a plastic container and freeze until fat solidifies. Scrape off, discard and continue).
The next day.
Remove ribs from the fridge. Pre-heat oven to 400.
Open gravy container. Here you will find an alarming layer of fat on top of the gravy. Skim off with a spoon and discard. Add the rest of the gravy to a pan over medium low-heat. Thin out with a bit of beef broth and reduce for about 10 to 15 minutes. Adjust seasonings if needed.
Place ribs onto a cookie sheet and pop into the oven for 12 to 15 minutes, turning over midway through cooking. This not only will reheat them, but it will add a light crust to the outside while leaving them succulent and juicy on the inside.
Finally, finally, serve with roasted potatoes. Drizzle with gravy.
*I've made this recipe five times and sadly, 9 short ribs serves about 3 people. It's THAT good.