That’s my opinion, anyway. If I was offered a choice of prime rib, rib-eye steak, filet mignon, or short ribs… I’d go for the short ribs. Every. Time.
Short ribs have nothing to do with the beef ribs that are long on rib but pretty damn short on actual meat, which are usually barbecued. Well, other than that they’re both from bovines, and they are both ribs… but short ribs are meaty and taste a whole lot better.
Short ribs are also tough and need long, slow braising to tenderize them. My mother used to simply bake them in a covered casserole dish with nothing but salt and pepper, and they did become tender and flavorful, but I like this method better. (They can also be grilled or barbecued, and if cut VERY thinly they can be stir-fried… but again, I like to braise them.)
So, we had just over two pounds of short ribs, which I sprinkled with salt and pepper. I sliced up two carrots and about two inches from the top of a whole bunch of celery (I hardly ever use just a stalk of celery; it’s so much easier to just cut straight across the entire bunch), chopped an onion and a tomato.
I heated a couple of tablespoons of olive oil in a cast iron Dutch oven. When it was hot, I carefully placed each rib in the Dutch oven, being careful not to crowd them. If meat or poultry gets crowded in a pan – i.e. touching – they will be very reluctant to brown and instead will steam. Not so good for flavor.
Some recipes tell you to toss the ribs in flour before sauteing… I used to do that, but it seems unnecessary to me in terms of flavor. That is an extra step I’m happy to skip.
When all the ribs were brown on each side, I removed them to a plate and added the carrots, celery, and onion to the pan, along with some minced garlic and fresh ginger. Tossed in about 1 teaspoon each oregano and thyme, and a big pinch of rosemary, and sauteed everything together.
After the veggies had started to brown, the ribs went back into the Dutch oven, along with the chopped tomato, some au jus left from prime rib the other night, three bay leaves, a good glug of Madeira and a good glug of Cabernet Sauvignon. I turned the heat way, way down, put the lid on the Dutch oven, and we went to a Christmas get-together for about an hour. (Alternatively, this could have gone into a 300 degree oven, or into a crock pot – though the crock pot would have taken longer for the ribs to get tender.)
It took about three hours for the ribs to get tender. You can’t rush them – increasing the heat or boiling them will just cause them to get stubborn and tough.
When they were falling off the bone, I took the ribs out of the pot and put them in a serving bowl. I spooned as much fat as possible from the pan juices, then took a stick blender and pureed about half the veggies in the pot.
This creates a nice thick sauce with little effort.
Poured the sauce over the ribs and sprinkled some chopped chives on top.
We had this with baked sweet potatoes and chive cornbread. I have to have horseradish and mustard with short ribs too.