Braised beef short ribs is one of the most luxurious dishes in the world. If it didn't take so long to make, I think I'd have it every night.
Not that it takes that long in terms of active cooking time. Most of the time the meat just braises away in the oven, untouched. But still, you have to start it about four hours before you plan to eat.
Braised short ribs can be a make-ahead meal, however. What you'd do is braise the beef until it's 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, gently reheat over a low simmer, and serve.
(Only remove the fat, not the gelatinized cooking liquid. That delicious jiggly stuff is pure gold.)
If you're wondering if you have to refrigerate the ribs after cooking them, the answer is no. You can serve them right away, of course! 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 their sweetness. The fact that you can skim off the fat the next day is also a plus.
Calculating how many short ribs per person depends on how the ribs are cut — sometimes they're short and sometimes they're long. So figure about a pound of bone-in short ribs per person.
And anyway, having a bunch of leftover beef short ribs is pretty much the best problem in the world you can have, so err on the generous side. I'm going to say that eight pounds of short ribs will feed six people, and I don't think I'll get any complaints.
Now granted, when you think of braising, you might automatically think cozy wintertime comfort food. Which it certainly is. But you can make these short ribs in the slow cooker if you don't feel like heating up your kitchen. They're simply too good to go without them during the warmer months.
Another idea, if you're determined not to generate any heat inside, is to do them on the grill. A cast iron Dutch oven can go right on the grill, and as long as you keep the heat low (250–300F), they'll turn out great.
- 8 lbs 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's very hot. Brown the beef well on all sides over high heat. It might get smoky, so ventilate well. You'll need to work in batches, as the ribs won't 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.
- Now pick out the carrots and set them aside. Sorry, there's no easier way of doing this.
- Add the wine and use a wooden spoon or heat-proof spatula to loosen all the flavory bits from the bottom of the pan.
- Add the tomatoes, bay leaves, a couple of thyme sprigs and the browned beef. Add the stock. If there's 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.
- When you're ready to serve, scrape the fat from the top of the ribs, then gently reheat it and serve. Mashed potatoes or creamy polenta are both wonderful accompaniments.