Beef Short Ribs braised in red wine produce a warming meal full of flavor with a hearty gravy to pour over mashed potatoes or pasta.
At this time of year, everyone is focused on turkey and sides and pie. Sometimes we forget the other meals!
One of my favorites things to do is make the first meal for when family arrives. If I am lucky it happens on Monday or Tuesday before Thanksgiving but even if it is Wednesday night it is just as special as Thanksgiving to me. It needs to be a meal that says home. Something warm and hearty. Definitely NOT poultry. And importantly it needs to be something that can be made ahead. Something that fills the house with delicious smells as it reheats.
This year I am making Red Wine Braised Beef Short Ribs. Meaty beef ribs are slowly cooked in red wine and beef broth until they are fork tender and falling off the bone. Herbs and vegetables in the broth add flavor to the beef and wine creating a thick gravy to be served over pasta, rice, or mashed potatoes. Simple and simply delicious.
The process is very similar to Beef Bourguignon, a dish my mother often made in large quantities for her children returning for the holidays. You can make it a day or two before serving. In fact, it’s best if you do!
Start with bacon. Cut 8 slices (more or less) into 3” pieces and cook them over a slow heat in a large saucepan or Dutch oven. You want to render out as much of the fat as possible before the bacon starts to brown.
While the bacon is browning, dredge the ribs in flour seasoned with salt and pepper. The easiest way to do this is to put the seasoned flour in a reusable container, add the ribs, cover it and shake it. The meat will be evenly coated and your hands will be clean!
Remove and set aside the bacon bits and brown the meat. This is the longest part of the process: two to three minutes a side and don’t crowd the pan! It may take three or four batches to get it all done. Watch the heat and adjust it so that the lovely bits on the bottom of the pan and the bacon fat don’t burn.
While that is going on, dice some carrots and onion (and a celery stick or two, if you happen to have one). Make them fairly small. Mince some garlic too.
Remove the meat from the pan and set it aside. Reduce the heat to low and add the diced vegetables. Give them a good stir, cover the pan and let them sweat for 5 minutes. Halfway through, give them a stir and scrap up the goodness from the bottom and sides.
Listen to the pan. If you hear sizzling, the heat is too high. As the vegetables soften the liquid they release will dissolve the lovely brown bits left over from the browning of the meat.
When the carrots are soft and the onions are opaque, add some tomato paste and cook it for a minute or two. You need to do this to bring out the flavor.
Add the meat, and a bundle of fresh herbs, then pour in some wine and beef stock.
Bring it to a boil. Put it in the oven. And cook it for two to three hours until the meat is fork tender and falling off the bone.
Once it is done, remove the meat from the pot.
Now pour the cooking liquid through a sieve placed over a large bowl. Use a rubber spatula to press down on the vegetables. Some of them will be soft enough to force through the sieve into the pot liquor below. This is a good thing!
If you are doing this a day or two before, place everything in the fridge: the reserved bacon bits, the meat, and the bowl with the pan juices.
If you are making it on the same day you plan to serve it, you will need to let the juices sit for a half an hour or more so that the fat (and there will be a lot of it) rises to the top making it easy(er) to remove.
The final steps:
After you have removed as much of the fat from the sauce as you can, put it in a pan and bring it to a boil. If it is thin, boil it for five or ten minutes to thicken. Taste it and adjust the seasoning.
Put the ribs in a shallow pan and pour the sauce over them. Cover it and store it in the refrigerator until ready to heat and serve or heat it up right away.
Enoy your family dinner of delicious Red Wine Braised Beef Short Ribs!
RED WINE BRAISED SHORT RIBS
- 5 lbs short ribs
- 8 slices bacon
- ½ c flour
- 1 tsp salt
- ½ tsp pepper
- 1 large onion
- 2 carrots
- 2 cloves garlic
- ¼ c tomato paste
- 2 ½ c red wine
- 2 ½ c beef stock
- 1 bouquet garni thyme, oregano, parsley, bay leaf
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees
- Chop the bacon slices into 3” pieces.
- In a large oven proof pot or Dutch oven, cook the bacon over low heat until the fat is rendered and the bacon is browned (5-10 minutes)
- Remove the bacon pieces from the pan and reserve them. Pour off all but 2 tbps bacon fat.
- Mix together the flour, salt and pepper in a reusable container. Add the meat in batches, covering the container and tossing the meat.
- Increase the heat to medium high and brown the meat in batches over medium high heat. About 2 minutes on a side. Be careful not to crowd the pan and moderate the heat to keep the fat from burning.
- While the meat is cooking, peel and dice the onion, carrot, and garlic into ½” dice.
- Once the meat has browned, add another tablespoon of fat if needed. Lower the heat and add the diced vegetables. Stir well until coated. Cover and cook for five minutes on low.
- Uncover the pan and stir the vegetable pieces to scrape up the drippings in the pan. Turn the heat up to medium and add the tomato paste. Stir and cook the tomato paste with the vegetables for 1-2 minutes.
- Return the meat to the pan and add 2 ½ cups of red wine and 2 ½ beef stock.
- Make a bundle of a few sprigs of fresh thyme, oregano, parsley, and a couple of bay leaves. Add this to the pan.
- Bring the liquid to a boil. Cover and place the pan in the preheated oven. Bake for 2-3 hours until the meat is fork tender and falling off the bone. Stir the meat once or twice as it cooks.
- Remove the pot from the oven and use a fork or tongs to remove the meat and set it aside.
- Place a large sieve or colander over a bowl and pour the liquid in the pan into the bowl through the sieve. Use a rubber spatula to press down on the vegetables, extracting as much of the liquid from them as possible. Throw away the herbs and the remaining bits of vegetable in the sieve.
- Place the liquid in the bowl in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or as long as overnight. If it is overnight, place the meat and the bacon covered in the refrigerator as well.
- When you are ready to finish the meal, remove as much of the fat from the top of the braising liquid and put the liquid in a saucepan. Bring the liquid to a boil. It should be thick enough to lightly coat a spoon. If it is not, boil it for 5-10 minutes to reduce it. Taste it and adjust the seasoning. Add salt and pepper if needed.
- Place the meat and the bacon pieces in a casserole pan. Pour the sauce over them. Cover with foil.
- You can proceed with the recipe from here or put the covered dish in the refrigerator for up to a day.
- To reheat, heat the oven to 350 degrees and cook covered for 3o-45 minutes until hot and bubbly.
- Garnish the dish with fresh parsley if desired.
Note: Use a hearty red wine, like a zinfandel or cabernet.