Short ribs in the middle of a heat wave? You might think I’m crazy (and you wouldn’t be far off), but it was so worth it. When my boyfriend moved into his new apartment I asked him what the inaugural meal should be, and though technically I made burritos before I made this meal, short ribs were the celebratory dish of choice. I’ve been cooking more red meat lately — either in the slow cooker or braised in the oven — and I still can’t get enough of that fall-off-the-bone tenderness. I mean, why would you cook anything any other way, when you can poke a short rib and watch it slide cleanly off the bone? (Sorry, vegetarians. This one’s for the carnivores.)
The best part about slow cooking meats, besides the melt-in-your-mouth taste, is how easy it is! Most of the effort put into a dish like this comes from the chopping and assembling of ingredients. Could I have made this in the crock pot and saved myself a little kitchen heat? Sure. But I wanted to make sure I could do this the old-fashioned way, first. Now I can experiment with seasoning and flavors in the crock pot — Asian short ribs, anyone?
I mean, LOOK AT THEM.
Braised Short Ribs
8 beef short ribs, with bone
1/4 cup flour
4 oz pancetta, diced
1 onion, diced
3 carrots, diced
2 shallots, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, smashed
2 cups red wine
2 cups beef broth
5 sprigs Thyme
3 sprigs Oregano
3 sprigs Rosemary
2 bay leaves
salt & pepper, to taste
I know I must sound like a broken record by now, but you’re going to want to use garlic pepper on these, trust me. Generously season your ribs with salt and pepper, then cover in flour and set aside. Preheat your oven to 350.
Now, I don’t have a dutch oven (yet), but I didn’t let that stop me! If you have one, do all your cooking in that, and then pop it in the oven. If you don’t, do these first few steps in a skillet and transfer everything to a large, lidded baking dish later.
Cook pancetta over medium heat until it’s good and crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. (Just try not to taste it while you’re cooking!) Make sure you keep all the grease in the pan.
Add a little olive oil to the pancetta grease and brown ribs on all sides over high heat — about a minute per side. Once all the ribs are browned, set them aside again. Turn heat back down to medium.
Add carrots, onions and shallots and cook for 5 minutes. Pour in the red wine and scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze all the pancetta/beef/delicious taste. Bring to a boil, then add in broth, ribs, herbs and bay leaves. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
(Here’s where you’ll add the mixture to your baking dish if you don’t have a dutch oven.) Cover the entire rib mixture and cook for 2 1/2 – 3 hours. Honestly, 2 1/2 is probably enough, but it depends on your oven. Here’s how you tell the ribs are ready: poke them with a fork and watch the magic happen. If they don’t instantly fall apart, pop ’em back in the oven. The other (other) great thing about these ribs is that they’re not going to dry out — they’re completely submerged in flavorful juices!
Once you’re satisfied your ribs are ready, stop! — and wait ten minutes. Let them cool down, then skim any fat that’s risen to the top of the wine mixture. Ribs are obviously best served with something creamy to soak up all the amazing sauce, like mashed potatoes or parmesan polenta, but feel free to mix it up and share what you make.
Observe — the stages of short rib heaven:
This is a great recipe for when you have company coming over, a very hungry friend, or just feel like some serious comfort food. And despite my seemingly idiotic decision to use the oven during a record-breaking heat wave, the AC kept us cool just fine. Seasonal, shmeasonal — that’s what I always say.*