We got our first blanket of snow the other day here in the Berkshires, so it was time to make some comfort food. Cold weather always gets me thinking about stews and braises, and one of my favorites is beef short ribs, which are the ends cut off the prime rib. They’re relatively cheap to buy and really easy to make. I don’t have the recipe my mother used to make them with, but I know it involved painting them with ketchup, and it may have had dried onion soup mix (remember that?) in the braising liquid. Whatever was in them they were a treat.
Here’s my version:
3 lbs meaty beef short ribs
2 tbs olive oil
1 good-sized yellow onion, coarsely chopped
1 carrot, coarsely chopped
1 stalk of celery, coarsely chopped
¼ tsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1 cup beef stock
½ cup hearty dry red wine
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350 degree F. Salt and pepper the ribs. In a Dutch oven or oven-proof pot with a cover heat the oil over medium high heat and brown the meat on all sides, being careful not to burn it. Do this in batches and don’t overcrowd the pot. Also, dry the ribs with paper towels so they will brown properly.
When they are nice and brown, remove the ribs to a plate, turn down the heat to medium and add the chopped vegetables, stirring until they take on some color.
Add the stock and wine and bring to a boil, stirring to get any browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the thyme and bay leaves and return the ribs to the pot. Cover the pot and put it in the oven for two hours. The meat should be tender and almost falling off the bone. Remove the ribs to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Put the pot back on the top of the stove, and reduce liquid over medium high heat until it thickens a little bit to a syrupy consistency (you may not need to do this.)
I like to put a rib on each plate over mashed potatoes with a few spoonfuls of the rich braising liquid, but this is nice to over polenta or rice. Some green beans (or a salad) and some crusty bread and you have a simple and comforting meal.
For a wine pairing I suggest any hearty dry red. This is humble dish and needs a sturdy humble wine. I served our current Italian house red with this, MasciarelliMotepulciano d’Abruzzu, which is also the wine in the braising liquid. Enjoy.