Grass-fed beef short ribs are on sale this week at Tropical Traditions (and shipping is free today, April 8th!) so of course I snagged a few. At less than $7 a pound, I couldn’t pass them up! Slow braised, tender short ribs are one of my absolute favorite meals. However, I’ve been disappointed by the short ribs recipes I’ve tried and even by short ribs in many restaurants. Cooking the meat is the easy part. The hard part is developing flavor in the sauce.
Most short ribs recipes are very similar. After searing the ribs, you cook carrots, celery, onions, garlic, and tomatoes or tomato paste to create a sauce. Time and time again I’ve followed recipes from big name chefs like Tom Colicchio only to feel let down by the lack of flavor in the sauce. Then one day when I wanted to make short ribs but didn’t have all of the vegetables I needed on hand, I had an epiphany. What is also made from carrots, celery, garlic, onions, and tomatoes and already has great flavor? Pasta sauce. So I decided to cut out the middle steps and use a jar of my favorite pasta sauce with no weird ingredients Rao’s Homemade Arrabbiata instead of trying to develop flavor from scratch. Lazy? Yes. Delicious? Absolutely. (This is an excellent recipe for impressing a date. He or she will think you slaved for hours in the kitchen. You can also make it a day before the date so you don’t smell like seared meat.)
2-4 pounds short ribs, cut into chunks with one bone per
12 ounces pasta sauce
1-2 cups red wine (any kind will work, I tend to use ones we didn’t like enough to drink)
1 cup broth
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 350˙ with the rack in the lower third of the oven. Heat an enameled cast iron or cast iron pot over high heat*. Generously salt and pepper one side of the ribs. Place the seasoned side of the ribs down in the preheated pot to sear, working in batches to prevent overcrowding. While that side is searing, season the side that is up. After the first side is seared, flip the ribs over and sear the other side. I also like to flip the ribs on end and sear every edge. Depending on how hot your pan is, you’ll need 3-7 minutes per side for a good sear. Don’t be afraid of cooking them too much. You really want the meat to crisp up so lock in the flavor. Move the seared ribs to a plate as you finish each batch.
When you are done searing the ribs, pour the wine into the pan to deglaze it, which is just a fancy word for “loosen up the delicious layer of flavor stuck to the pot”. Add the broth and pasta sauce and heat until boiling. Return the ribs to the pot. The liquid should come about half way up the ribs. If it doesn’t, add a little more wine, broth, and or sauce.
Cover the pot and place it in the oven and set your timer for 1 hour. Try not to eat everything else in the house while you suffer through the amazing smell as the ribs cook. Whatever you do, don’t leave the house and come back hours before dinner. This only makes the smell stronger and more mouth watering. Check on the ribs after an hour to make sure there is still enough liquid to keep the meat juicy. If there isn’t much liquid left, add some more of whatever you have left (wine, sauce, broth).
If you’ve planned ahead and made your ribs the day before, stop here. Remove the pan from the oven, let it cool, then place it in your fridge. Tomorrow, an hour before you want to eat,reheat your oven to 350˙, pull the pan out of the fridge and scoop out the hardened fat. This will make your sauce less greasy. You can use this fat to cook a vegetable for a side to give it amazing flavor. Continue with the rest of the steps as though you didn’t plan ahead.
If you didn’t plan ahead (I never remember to**) or if you did and are on day two, set the oven timer for another 30 minutes. After the final 30 minutes are up, the meat should be tender but will probably not be falling off the bone (yet). Remove the lid and let the ribs cook uncovered for another 45 minutes or so until the sauce reduces to a fairly thick consistency. You’ll want to turn the ribs once or twice during this time so all sides get caramelized and extra delicious. Once the sauce has reached the desired thickness, remove the pot from the oven and separate the ribs from the sauce. You can try to remove some of the fat from the sauce here if you are concerned about the greasiness or you can just eat it as is. Trust me, it’s delicious either way.
Plate the ribs with sauce on top and serve with your sides of choice. I like to serve mine with crispy brussels sprouts or sautéed kale and mashed Japanese sweet potatoes or sautéed carrots. But really they go with everything so just use whatever you have on hand.
*If you are using cast iron, make sure the pot is well seasoned. You can add some oil or butter to protect the pot. If you do not have a cast iron or enameled pot, you can use another type of pot but you will want to add a small amount of oil or butter to prevent the ribs from sticking until they release some of their own fat.
**If I have time the day I want to have short ribs, I will make them in the morning, then move the sauce into a dish in the fridge for the afternoon so I can scoop out the hardened fat. This is a nice compromise between doing everything the day before and doing it at the last minute.Recipes