Braised Beef Short Ribs

My friend Shannon swears by her America’s Test Kitchen cookbook, and it doesn’t take long to see why.  They give background on why each recipe works, along with solid and easy instructions each step of the way.  I like the idea of understanding why you do what you do in the kitchen…helps with improvisations later on.  Also, they have a monster-sized list of all of the products and tools they recommend for various reasons, pretty awesome.

For New Year’s Eve dinner, she decided to come back to one of her favorite recipes, the braised beef short ribs.  They have such an awesome flavor and melt in your mouth texture. This recipe calls for boneless ribs, which render significantly less fat than bone-in ribs.  The addition of the wine adds a great richness, and the final steps with the sauce totally add the finishing touch on the dish.  This is definitely a recipe to have in mind on a cold winter day when you are in the mood for deliciously tender and satisfying comfort food!

*Note: because we had snacked all day long, we didn’t have a side dish.  But it would go wonderfully with mashed potatoes, oven roasted potatoes or egg noodles!  Oh, and don’t forget some yummy biscuits to sop up the amazing sauce!

You will need:
3 1/2 pounds boneless beef short ribs, trimmed of excess fat
salt and ground black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 large onions, sliced thin from pole to pole (about 4 cups)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
6 medium garlic cloves, peeled
2 cups red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Cotes du Rhone
1 cup beef broth
4 large carrots, peeled and cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces (I use more carrots to add more veggies to the sides)
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
2 tablespoons (or more) Wondra flour to thicken up the sauce

Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 300 degrees. Pat the beef dry with paper towels and season with 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until smoking. Add half of the beef and cook, without stirring, until well browned, 4 to 6 minutes. Turn the beef and continue to cook on the second side until well browned, 4 to 6 minutes longer, reducing the heat if the fat begins to smoke. Transfer the beef to a medium bowl. Repeat with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and the remaining meat.

trimmed ribs, ready to brown

Reduce the heat to medium, add the onions, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown, 12 to 15 minutes. If the onions begin to darken too quickly, add 1 to 2 tablespoons water to the pan. Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring constantly, until it browns on the sides and bottom of pan, about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until aromatic, about 30 seconds. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the wine, and simmer, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to loosen the browned bits, until reduced by half, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the broth, carrots, thyme, and bay leaf. Add the beef and any accumulated juices into the Dutch oven.  Put on the lid, place in the oven and cook, using tongs to turn the meat twice during cooking, until a fork slips easily in and out of the meat, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

ready to go in the oven

Using tongs, transfer the meat and carrots to a serving platter and tent with foil. Strain the cooking liquid through a fine-mesh strainer into a fat separator or bowl, pressing on the solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard the solids. Allow the liquid to settle for about 5 minutes and strain off the fat. Return the cooking liquid to the Dutch oven and cook over medium heat until reduced to 1 cup, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in sifted flour, one tablespoon at a time; season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the sauce over the meat and carrots and serve!

yummy sauce

serves: 6
time: hands on time = about 1 hour / cooking time = about 3.5 hours
slightly adapted from: Shannon’s America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook

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