I am not a lover of braised meats because of their texture. When it comes to short ribs, though, all bets are off. This New Year’s, I made one my best braises ever and probably the simplest. I used an old French method, not overindulging in herbs and spices. It is best made with real beef stock, which can be either homemade or bought from your butcher. It reduces much better because of its natural gelatin.
Short ribs come two different ways. Some are cut across the bone, so you end up with three bones. Think thick Miami-style ribs. Others are cut English style on one long bone. These are my preference, as they look more elegant and the meat is more luscious. Garnishes change with the season, but carrots and mushrooms are my choice. I cook them separately and add them for the last few minutes. And I bake the ribs separately for 15 minutes after cooking. It makes them more succulent.
Ready time: 5 hours, including marinating time
4 short ribs on the long bone, about 9 ounces (275 g) each
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup chopped carrot
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
1/2 cup red wine
1 cup canned tomatoes, chopped
3 cups beef stock
Carrots and mushrooms:
1 pound (500 grams) carrots
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
4 ounces (125 grams) oyster mushrooms, torn in half
2 ounces (60 grams) shiitake mushrooms, torn in quarters
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
Season short ribs with thyme, salt and pepper and let sit for 1 hour. Preheat oven to 275 F. Heat oil in heavy oven-proof pot over high heat. If you don’t have one, use a skillet and transfer to a baking dish after the sauce is finished.
Sear short ribs on all sides until browned (about 2 minutes per side). Remove from pot and reserve. Reduce heat to medium. Add chopped onions, carrots and celery and sauté for 5 minutes or until soft. Add garlic and sauté a minute longer.
Pour in wine and bring to a boil. Boil for 2 minutes or until wine is reduced by half. Add tomatoes and stock and bring to a boil. Return short ribs to pot and cover. Transfer to oven and bake for 3 to 3 ½ hours or until meat is very tender.
Prepare carrots and mushrooms while meat is cooking. Cut carrots in half on the diagonal and again in half horizontally, creating long pieces. Heat butter and oil together over medium heat in a sauté pan. Add carrots, season with salt and pepper and toss in fat. Cover pan and cook 7 to 10 minutes or until tender (time will vary with thickness of carrots). Remove to a dish and reserve. Return same pan to high heat. Add extra oil if needed. Add mushrooms and sauté until tender (about 5 to 6 minutes). Season with salt and pepper. Reserve with carrots.
Remove ribs from oven and cool. Remove ribs from pot and place on baking sheet. Strain sauce through a fine sieve. Discard solids and return sauce to pot. Skim fat. If sauce is not thick enough (it should coat a spoon), reduce over medium heat; if too thick, thin down with extra stock. Taste for seasoning. Add carrots and mushrooms and reheat.
Preheat oven to 400 F. Bake ribs for 15 to 20 minutes or until they are a dark brown colour. Return to sauce. Garnish with parsley to serve.