Short ribs are a fancy way of saying pot roast. Ok not really, but they are fairly similar in flavor- they are also cooked quite similarly in the method of a long braise. Let’s just be honest here….short ribs are a fancy “in” food right now, and if you Googled that and got here it’s probably because you saw them on a menu at a hip restaurant and wanted to try to make them at home. Either way- they are good. They are fairly inexpensive, and you can change your braise easily by substituting beer or broth for wine, different herbs, more or less garlic, different vegetables, or even a touch of chocolate in the form of a cocoa rub is great with them.
I made these while I was home for the holidays and sent my dear mother to the butcher to pick up short ribs. They did not have bone in, which is fine…though I do believe the bones do help to retain moisture in the meat. You work with what you’ve got right? I also planned on making creamy polenta, but polenta was nowhere to be found. After much deliberation, attempting to search for recipes on my phone, and talking to Caitlyn; I decided on using corn meal. Don’t do this. While the flavor is similar the texture is much gooeyer than regular polenta. I also served this with a delicious wild mushroom ragout that added a nice earthy flavor to the dish.
Short ribs ingredients:
5lbs beef short ribs
2-3 pieces of thick cut bacon
1 medium carrot peeled
1 celery stalk
1/2 of a small onion
2-3 medium cloves of garlic
1 bottle hearty red wine- I used a malbec
1 qt chicken stock, beef stock or water
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
Freshly cracked black pepper
¼ cup all purpose flour
1 Tbs olive oil
Method for short ribs:
If the ribs are not bone in you will most likely have to slice them into smaller pieces. You want each piece to be approximately 2 inches long and about 14-16 oz. Once this is done, salt and peppers each liberally and put in the refrigerator for an hour or up to a day. When you are ready to prepare them place the flour into shallow bowl and coat each piece lightly in the flour, set aside. Slice onions, carrots, celery and garlic into a rough dice and set aside. Slice the bacon into ½ inch pieces. In a medium sized dutch oven or oven proof sauté the bacon until crisp. Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside. In 2 batches (depending on the size of your pot) sear all four sides of each rib. When I say sear, I mean really really sear them, your hood fan is your best friend right now, a good deep almost burned sear will add a lot of flavor to your finished dish*.
After the ribs are seared, set them aside for a moment while you deglaze the pot. Pour 1 cup of the stock into the bottom of the hot dutch oven, it will sizzle loudly (if you’re doing it right). Turn the heat down to medium, and using a spatula or wooden spoon, gently release the crispy bits from the bottom of the pan. Once the stock has stopped bubbling profusely, and you have successfully deglazed most of the remnants off the bottom of the pot. Next add vegetables and sauté lightly. After the vegetables have softened slightly and the garlic and onions are fragrant, add the remainder of the stock, and ½ the bottle of wine.
Using tongs gently place the short ribs back into the pot, add enough wine to cover the short ribs entirely (if there is a glass left, drink it, if you need more, add extra wine stock or water-whatever you have). Tuck the sprigs of time into the pot making sure they are submerged into the braising liquid. Cover and braise in the oven for 2 ½ to 3 hours.
Mushroom ragout ingredients:
1 ½ lbs mixed mushrooms ( I used shitaakes and button, as it was what was available)
1 ½ Tbs olive oil or butter
1 clove of garlic, pressed or finely chopped
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp freshly ground pepper
1 large sprig of thyme
1/3 cup dry white wine (or chicken broth, or even red wine)
Mushroom ragout method:
Clean and slice the mushrooms. In a medium skillet warm the olive oil or butter, then add the garlic and cook until fragrant (about 1 minute). Add the mushrooms, salt pepper, ground pepper, thyme, and white wine. Let simmer for about 15 minutes stirring occasionally until the mushrooms are soft and the sauce has reduced.
Parmesan polenta ingredients:
1 cup polenta (or grits)
2 cups milk, or one cup milk and one cup heavy cream
1 cup chicken stock
3/4 -1 cup freshly grated parmesan (asiago, romano, or a blend will also work
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Parmesan polenta method:
Combine the grits, milk, and chicken stock in a large sauce pan or small dutch oven. Cook slowly on medium heat until the grits have softened slightly and absorbed all of the liquid. Be sure not to boil this because two things will happen- a) it holds the heat really well and will continue bubbling and spitting polenta into the air even after you removed it from the heat b) it WILL burn to the bottom- fairly easily in fact. Be patient with these (and if you have to ask, yes, I have done both of the things above. After the polenta has cooked remove it from the heat and whisk in the cheese until melted and smooth. If the mixture is too thick add another ¼ cup of liquid (please make that milk or chicken stock, but water if you must). Add a few grinds of pepper to taste. While I would usually recommend salt in polenta it is unnecessary with the saltiness of a hard cheese, but feel free to add some if you like.
To plate: Place a large scoop of creamy polenta into the bottom of a low bowl or onto a plate. Top with mushroom ragout and two pieces of short ribs. Drizzle a bit of the braising liquid over the dish and serve
A few notes:
*Do not “crowd the pan” when you are searing the ribs- or any meat for that matter. With too much meat in the pan it cannot retain a proper even temperature, this is why it’s essential to sear the meat in batches.
If you cook bone in short ribs- do not be surprised if the meat falls off the bone completely while cooking- this is common
You could strain the vegetables out of the braising liquid and make a gravy, or you could serve some of the braised vegetables with the dish. I chose not too since i made the mushrooms. I also don’t think short ribs need gravy, but feel free to make it if you like.
Do not over salt the mushrooms before you cook them, they are very porous and absorb a lot flavor while cooking, add the recommended ¼ tsp, and then after the 15 mins of simmering add more if so desired.
While this dish was DELICIOUS it was extremely rich. When I make this again, I will top them with roasted cherry tomatoes, to add just a touch of tang. This dish would also be nicely served alongside a salad of mixed greens and arugula with a vinaigrette dressing.
Roasted cherry tomatoes:
1 pint cherry tomatoes
Drizzle of olive oil (1 to 2 Tbs)
Sprinkling of Kosher salt (1 to 2 tsp)
Freshly ground pepper
A drizzle of balsamic vinegar (1 Tbs max)
On a roasting pan, or cake pan (that’s what I use since those little suckers roll) toss the tomatoes in olive oil and spice. Roast in the oven at 350 for 25 minutes or until they have burst and are slightly wrinkly. When you remove them from oven drizzle them with a bit of balsamic vinegar and spoon over the short ribs.