Braised Short Ribs
I'm a seasonal cook. Not just with the fresh ingredients that I use, but by letting the weather dictate what and how I cook. During the summer, you'll find me marinating meats and veggies for the grill, making homemade salad dressings for main course salads, and playing around with cold treats. During the winter months, I use my ovens like crazy. I love, love, love roasting and braising. The ease of preparing a meal several hours before service, during nap time (or when my kids are at school), the smells emanating from the oven, the fun of one pot cooking. You can't go wrong.
I know lots of people swear by their slow cookers, but unless it's to keep a dish hot during a party, it's just not for me. As we all know, I like to avoid as many dirty dishes as I can, and I figure that if you are going to dirty one pot by searing meat, why dirty another to slow cook it, if you can use that same pot and transfer it from the stove to the oven. You are not only saving dish washing time but, you are creating a greater depth of flavor by using the same dish.
One of my favorite go-to winter dishes is braised short ribs. Low and slow oven cooking meat in liquid creates a fall-off the-bone tender meat. And the flavor? It just can't be matched.
8-10 bone-in short ribs, about 3 inch pieces. (You can find boneless short ribs, but the ribs? They add extra flavor to your dish, and help create a yummy beef broth that you can freeze or use in future meals).
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
6 sprigs of fresh Thyme
2 TBS brown sugar
1 sweet yellow onion, chopped
5 celery ribs, chopped
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup red wine (I use Merlot)
28 oz can of crushed tomatoes
2 cups of chicken stock
Preheat oven to 325. Cover the bottom of a large dutch oven with olive oil. Add thyme sprigs. Heat on high (but be careful it doesn't burn).
Once oil starts to ripple, add the short ribs. Brown on all sides. It's easier to do in two batches, than to crowd the pan (like I did below-- but I was in a hurry). Browning seals in the flavor, and keeps the juices where they belong- in the meat, creating a more tender bite.
Once browned, remove the short ribs from the pan. Place on a plate, or in a baking dish. You want to catch any juices that escape from the meat, and add them to the pan later. Add carrots, celery, onions and garlic to the pan. Cook until onions become slightly translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add canned tomatoes, wine, brown sugar and chicken stock. Stir to combine ingredients and bring to a boil. Turn off stove.
Add meat and any escaped liquid back into the pan. Place the ribs, bone-side up. The liquid should just cover the ribs. If too much meat is still exposed, you can add additional chicken stock.
Place Dutch Oven into the oven. Cook for 3 1/2 hours. This recipe can easily be doubled, or even tripled. The only changes to be made, other than an increase in ingredients, are to sear the ribs off in batches, so that they brown evenly; and to use a larger oven-safe roasting pan. When cooking for crowds, I use my stove-top safe Thanksgiving turkey roasting pan.
Not that you asked, but in my opinion, short ribs are best served on top of mashed potatoes or creamy polenta. Create a well in your starch of choice and ladle short ribs, some vegetables, and sauce on top.