Saturday, September 17, 2011

Red Wine-Braised Short Ribs

Out of everything I've ever cooked, and possibly ever eaten (sorry mom, but we all remember the deathcakes), this was the most succulent. I originally saw the recipe in a Williams-Sonoma catalogue in a spread in which they were using the dish to sell a cooking vessel called a tagine, and the food looked so delicious that I saved the sheet.

Now, admittedly, the butcher will look at you rather oddly when you walk up to him and ask for four pounds of short ribs, but if he only knew the succulent wonderment that was to come of them, he wouldn't ask any questions. Mine, however, made some crack about Christmas dinner. I'll include the recipe below, but first I want to keep talking about this culinary quest.

This was the first time I've ever coked something with the bone still intact. I've had short ribs plenty of times before, but never with the bone. Now I understand what chefs and cooking experts are creating such a fuss about. The flavors were so rich, complex, and layered that it's hard to describe. Couple this bone-in advantage with about 3 hours of braising inside my 5 quart Staub (I'll post soon about Staub vs. Le Creuset) with the self-basting lid, and everything was literally falling apart with tasty juices. I really could have cut it with a spoon.

Unfortunately, I forgot to buy mashed potatoes in the Whole Foods prepared food section. This, it would turn out, would be a big mistake. The short ribs were SO rich that I desperately needed something like mashed potatoes to soak up the grease. My advice to anyone who makes this is BUY THE 'TATERS FIRST. In all, however, it was delicious, and I have a few leftovers for another dinner, this time with mashed potatoes!

Cooked and served in a classic Moroccan vessel known as a tagine, this dish makes a dramatic presentation at the table. Accompany with mashed potatoes to soak up the flavorful sauce.


  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 3 3/4 lb. bone-in beef short ribs (6 to 8 pieces)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 celery stalk, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 2 carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 3/4 cup finely diced shallot
  • 1 Tbs. minced garlic
  • 3 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 3/4 tsp. crushed Aleppo chili
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 3/4 cup red wine
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Mashed potatoes for serving (see related recipe at left)


Soak a tagine according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Place the tagine on a diffuser over medium-high heat and warm 1 Tbs. of the olive oil.

Season the short ribs on all sides with salt and pepper. Dredge the ribs in the flour until evenly coated, shaking off the excess. Add half of the ribs to the tagine and sear until well browned on all sides, about 10 minutes total; transfer to a plate. Repeat with 1 Tbs. of the olive oil and the remaining ribs.

Reduce the heat to medium and warm the remaining 1 Tbs. olive oil. Add the celery, carrots and shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned, 7 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Add the Aleppo chili, bay leaf, thyme, broth, wine, salt and pepper and bring to a simmer. Return the ribs to the tagine. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook, turning the ribs occasionally, until the meat is tender, 4 1/2 to 5 hours.

Garnish the ribs with the parsley and serve immediately with mashed potatoes. Serves 4.

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