Part I: Special Occasion Short Ribs

Sometimes you need a dinner that just . . . has that “wow” factor. Maybe it’s a birthday. Maybe it’s “marry-me-you-won’t-be-sorry.” Or maybe it’s just Saturday night and you are tired of the usual routine. Whatever. 

Fall-in-Love short ribs

Braised short ribs will do the trick — and best, it’s so easy your dad (or mine) could do it. (That might be stretching it. I am not at all sure my dad could do this. But you can, seriously.) Just be sure you’ll be home for a while, as the definition of braising is “low’n’slow.”

First, you’ll brown each side of the rib for about 2 minutes per side. This is so that they turn a rich, appetizing, caramelized color. You can even do this part ahead of time by a day or so, or even freeze them after you browning and pick up where you left off. 

Then you’ll address the vegetable situation. When you’re ready to braise, you’ll prepare your simmering sauce. These veggies do not need to look pretty (that comes later); just toss them all in your oven-proof pot, cover tightly, and figure out what to do with the rest of the wine in that bottle. You’ve got 5 hours to kill. Maybe now is a good time to prep the rest of the veggies (the pretty ones to fancy up your meal) before attacking that wine.

And now for the finish: You can serve these gorgeous ribs over noodles, potatoes, or plain, but I like how mashed potatoes create a delicious, yet malleable, presentation base. Arrange it to show off your amazing skills!

Then check out my next entry — Part II: Special Occasions.

Braised Short Ribs

Ribs:

  • 4 (8-ounce) pieces bone-in beef short ribs
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 medium carrots, finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 (14-ounce) can whole San Marzano tomatoes in juice, puréed in a blender with juice
  • 1 1/2 cups dry red wine
  • 4 cups beef stock
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Vegetables

  • 1 large onion
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon red-wine vinegar
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup baby carrots
  • 3 thick bacon slices, cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces
  • 8 ounces baby bella mushrooms
  • Braise short ribs:
    1. Put oven rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 250°F.
    2. Pat beef dry. Heat oil in a wide (12 inches in diameter) 3- to 5-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown beef on all sides, turning with tongs, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon sea salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
    3. Add chopped carrots, onion, and garlic to oil in pot and cook over moderate heat, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in 1 cup puréed tomatoes (reserve remainder for another use) and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Add wine and boil, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened, about 8 minutes.
    4. Add beef stock, thyme, bay leaf, vinegars, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to sauce, and bring to a simmer. Skim fat from surface, then add beef along with any juices accumulated on plate and cover pot with a tight-fitting lid. Transfer to oven and braise until beef is very tender, 4 to 5 hours.
  • Cook vegetables while beef braises:
    1. Heat butter in dried saucepan over moderate heat until foam subsides, then cook onions, stirring occasionally, until brown spots appear, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in vinegar, then add chicken stock and carrots and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until vegetables are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Uncover and boil, if necessary, until liquid glazes vegetables.
    2. While vegetables are simmering, cook bacon in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 4 to 6 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, until mushrooms are tender and bacon is browned and crisp, about 4 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to vegetables in saucepan.
  • Assemble dish:
    1. Transfer a short rib to each of 4 plates and keep warm in oven. Pour sauce through a medium-mesh sieve into a large bowl, pressing on and then discarding solids, then skim fat from sauce. Boil sauce, if necessary, until thickened and reduced to about 3 cups. Season with salt and pepper. Add about 2 cups sauce to vegetables (reserve remaining sauce for another use), then spoon mixture around short ribs.

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