A meal of braised beef short ribs is one of the most luxurious dishes in the world. The catch is that you have to start preparing it at least four hours before you start eating it—or even longer—for the best results.
Braised short ribs can be a make-ahead meal. What you do is braise the beef until it is done, then let it cool in the pan and refrigerate it overnight, still in its liquid. Then the next day, scrape off all the solidified fat from the top and gently reheat over a low simmer, and serve. Make sure you only remove the fat and not the gelatinized cooking liquid. That delicious jiggly stuff is pure gold and the key to this dish's unctuousness.
If you're wondering if you have to refrigerate the ribs after cooking them, the answer is no. You can serve them right away. But, there is something about the way the flavors intensify overnight. This is not an illusion, either. The flavors in the meat become more complex as the amino acids in the proteins combine in various ways to produce new flavors. Meanwhile, the carbohydrates in vegetables such as carrots and onions break down into sugars, enhancing its sweetness. The fact that you can skim off the solidified fat the next day is also a plus.
Calculating how many short ribs per person depends on how the ribs are cut—sometimes the ribs are really short and sometimes the ribs are unusually long. So figure about a pound of bone-in short ribs per person. If you have a bunch of leftover beef short ribs, it is pretty much the best problem in the world you can have, so err on the generous side. Eight pounds of short ribs should feed six people.
When you think of braising, you might automatically think this translates into a cozy wintertime comfort food dish. It does deliver there. But, also, you can make these short ribs in the slow cooker if you do not feel like heating up your kitchen during the summertime. These ribs are simply too good to go without them during the warmer months.
Another idea, if you are determined not to generate any heat inside, is to prepare them on the grill. A cast iron Dutch oven can go right on the grill, and as long as you keep the heat low (250 F to 300 F), the ribs will turn out great.
- 8 pounds bone-in beef short ribs
- 3 shallots (or 1 large onion, peeled)
- 4 large celery stalks
- 3 large carrots (peeled)
- 4 cloves garlic (peeled)
- 3 dried bay leaves
- Sprigs of fresh thyme
- 1 cup canned diced tomatoes
- 2 quarts beef stock
- 1 cup red wine
- Kosher salt to taste
- Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 300 F.
Quarter the shallots, and chop the celery and carrots into roughly 1-inch chunks.
Dry the ribs thoroughly with paper towels and generously season them with kosher salt.
Heat a small amount of oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy, oven-proof soup pot until it is very hot. Brown the beef well on all sides over high heat. It might get smoky, so ventilate well. You will need to work in batches, as the ribs will not brown as well if the pan is crowded. Remove the ribs and set aside.
Lower the heat somewhat and add the carrot, celery, shallot, and garlic and sauté in the resulting beef juices until slightly browned.
Pick out the carrots and set them aside. (There is no easier way of doing this).
Add the tomatoes, bay leaves, a couple of thyme sprigs, and the browned beef. Add the stock. If there is not enough liquid to cover the meat, add water until the ribs are barely submerged.
Season the liquid to taste with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bring to a boil, then cover with a tightly fitting lid and transfer the pot to the oven.
Let the beef braise untouched for 3 hours. Add the carrots and braise for another half hour. Remove pot from oven and let it cool for 30 minutes, then cover part way and transfer to the refrigerator. Once the meat is fully chilled you can cover it completely.