Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Wine-Braised Beef Short Ribs

Wine-Braised Beef Short Ribs

Served over mashed potatoes, comfort food at its finest

Spring may be coming, but it’s still plenty chilly in our part of the world. So we’re not putting away our braising pot just yet. And what better than braised beef short ribs to chase away the last days of winter?

After a few hours luxuriating in a rich wine sauce over low heat, the meat becomes soft, yet retains its toothsome character. And the rich flavor is succulent beyond belief.

Best of all, this dish tastes better cooked a day or two ahead, then reheated. So it makes perfect party food.

It’s so good your guests will applaud. Or even better, request seconds.


Wine-Braised Beef Short Ribs

Recipe: Wine-Braised Beef Short Ribs

Braising is nothing more than slow cooking in liquid in a covered pot. In other words, pot roasting. The slow part is important, though, because the cut of meat we use in this dish tends to be rather tough (all those connective tissues); slow cooking takes care of that.

This recipe has two key stages. First you brown the meat. Then you cook it at the barest simmer in a rich wine stock, with onions and carrots to help flavor the dish.

We’ve made similar dishes before, including Boeuf Bourguignon and Wine-Braised Beef Pot Roast. BTW, almost every cuisine features some sort of braised dishes. In fact, one of our favorites is Chinese: Red-Braised Beef.

We usually make this dish over three days, and our procedure reflects that. But you can make it all in one day if you prefer – see Notes for instructions. In fact, you can even make this dish using the procedures we set out in our Boeuf Bourguignon and Wine-Braised Beef Pot Roast recipes. They’re very similar to this recipe, but a bit more streamlined. We think this recipe does yield superior flavor, though.

Prep time for this dish is about 45 minutes. Total cooking time adds about 3 hours, most of it unattended.

This recipe serves 4, probably with leftovers (see Notes). Leftovers keep for several days if refrigerated in an airtight container.

We like to serve this dish over mashed potatoes. But it’s equally good served over Polenta, risotto, Homemade Noodles, or whatever you fancy. You could even serve it with dumplings. Or Spätzle.

Ingredients
  • ~1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms 
  • 2 cups hot water for soaking the porcini mushrooms
  • 8 three-inch beef short ribs (about 1 pound, usually more, per person before cooking; not as much as it sounds – see Notes)
  • salt for seasoning the short ribs (about 2 to 3 teaspoons total of kosher salt; see Notes)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup of red wine or water for deglazing the browning pan
  • 1 large onion
  • 4 carrots
  • 1 rib celery
  • 1 additional tablespoon olive oil
  • additional salt to taste (about ½ teaspoon kosher salt; see Notes)
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • a handful of mushrooms (about ¼ pound; optional)
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 bottles of red wine (less the 1 cup listed above used for deglazing the browning pan; or 1 bottle of wine plus about 3 cups beef stock)
  • 1 cup ruby port (optional)
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons beef base (optional; may substitute 2 cups beef stock – see Notes)
  • additional salt and black pepper to taste (for Step 15)
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 6 tablespoons water (optional)
  • parsley for garnish
  • mashed potatoes for serving (we also like to serve short ribs with braised carrots and sautéed mushrooms)
Procedure
  1. Cover the dried porcini mushrooms with 2 cups of very hot water. Allow them to soak for at least 15 minutes (longer is OK).
  2. Dry the short rib pieces, then season them with salt to taste (we like lots of salt when browning meat; see Notes). Place a large frying pan over medium stovetop heat. When the pan is hot, add the oil. When the oil is heated (about 15 seconds – it’ll shimmer), add as many pieces of short rib as you can without crowding the pan. Brown the pieces on each side (about 4 minutes per side). Take your time; the browner the meat, the better the flavor. Set the short rib pieces aside when browned. (Note that you’ll be juggling this step and the next few steps at the same time.) When the meat pieces have finished browning, there may be a crust remaining on the bottom of the pan. You’ll want to deglaze the pan and use this crust for extra flavor: Pour off any fat that remains in the pan, then add about a cup of wine (or water) to the pan. Bring the liquid to a simmer, then use a wooden spoon to scrape the crust and loosen it. Add the liquid to the cooking pot in Step 8 when you add the rest of the wine.
  3. Meanwhile, peel the onion and cut it into rough dice. Wash and peel the carrots and cut them into rough dice. Wash and peel the celery and cut into rough dice.
  4. Place a 4-quart cooking pot over medium stovetop heat. When hot, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil. When the oil is heated, add the chopped onion, carrots, and celery. Add salt to taste. Sauté for 5 to 6 minutes (until the onion is translucent).
  5. Meanwhile, peel the garlic and cut each clove in half. If using mushrooms, wipe them off to remove any dirt, then cut them into halves or quarters.
  6. After the onion mixture has sautéed for about 5 minutes (Step 4), add the garlic and mushrooms. Cook for an additional 2 minutes.
  7. Add the tomato paste and thyme to the onion mixture, then cook for 3 minutes.
  8. Add the wine and port (if using) to the onion mixture. Stir in the beef base, if using. Add the porcini mushrooms (from Step 1) and their liquid (we usually strain the liquid to trap any sand that may be in the mushrooms). Bring the mixture to a boil, then let it cook for 10 minutes (this helps meld all the flavors).
  9. Allow the wine-and-veggie mixture to cool. While it’s cooling, place the browned short rib pieces into a container that’s large enough to hold them plus the wine mixture (we generally use a large stainless bowl). When the wine mixture is cool, pour it over the short ribs. Cover the container with a lid or plastic shrink wrap, then refrigerate the short ribs overnight.
  10. The next day, preheat the oven to 250 degrees F. Remove any solidified fat from the surface of the braising liquid in which the short ribs have been stored. Place the short ribs and wine mixture into a large Dutch oven (one that holds about 6 quarts). Bring the contents to a simmer over stovetop heat. When the wine mixture is simmering, cover the pot with aluminum foil, then place a lid on the pot (the foil helps ensure a better seal and also reduces the amount of space in the cooking pot, making for a more effective braise). Place the cooking pot in the oven and set a timer for one hour.
  11. At the hour mark, remove the cooking pot from the oven and take a look. The sauce should be simmering gently. Adjust the heat up or down if necessary, then return the cooking pot to the oven for another 1½ hours.
  12. After the short ribs have cooked for 2½ hours total, remove them from the oven. Using tongs, transfer the short ribs to a large container and allow them to cool (select a container large enough to hold the beef and the wine braise – you’ll be refrigerating this overnight).
  13. Pour the braising liquid into a strainer that you’ve placed over a large bowl or measuring cup. Pour the braising liquid through the strainer into the bowl. Empty the onions and other veggies into the strainer. Using the back of a large spoon, press the liquid out of the veggies. You can either discard the veggies, or save them as a treat for the cook.
  14. Allow the braising liquid to cool. After the meat and liquid have reached room temperature, pour the braising liquid over the short ribs. Cover the container, then refrigerate overnight.
  15. You can refrigerate the cooked short ribs in their liquid for a day or two. When ready to serve, remove any solidified fat from the surface of the braising liquid (there probably will be a lot of fat). Pour the braising liquid into a cooking pot large enough to hold the short ribs (but don’t add the meat yet). Over low stovetop heat, reduce the braising liquid to about 3 cups or a bit less (it will reduce a bit more as the short ribs reheat). Taste, then add seasoning if necessary (salt and/or black pepper; we suggest you under-season slightly, and test again right before serving). Then add the short ribs and adjust the heat so the liquid is just simmering. Cover the pot and simmer for 20 to 30 minutes (or you can keep it warm for an hour or so).
  16. When ready to serve, remove pot from heat and with tongs remove the short ribs from the pot and put on a plate. Cover with foil to keep warm. Check the consistency of the sauce.  If the sauce isn't as thick as you'd like, either cook it down until it has the consistency you like (many people like it when it will coat a spoon), or you may want to thicken it even more. In that case, stir in most of the cornstarch-and-water mixture (do this off heat). The mixture should thicken in a minute or two. Add the rest of the cornstarch mixture if you want a thicker sauce. Taste and adjust seasoning again.
  17. Place a piece or two of meat on each serving plate over a bed of mashed potatoes. Add some sauce, then garnish with parsley, if desired. Serve along with your choice of additional veggies (we like carrots and mushrooms).
Wine-Braised Beef Short Ribs

Notes
  • A pound of short ribs per person? Are we nuts? Yes, but hear us out. Short ribs have a lot of bone and a lot of fat (most of which gets cooked out). So they shrink quite a bit in cooking. We always plan on serving two 3-inch pieces per person, but many people find one piece to be enough. So no one goes hungry and we generally have some leftovers (which are really good). Win win.
  • BTW, many supermarkets cut their short ribs into 2-inch pieces (unless you order them specially), so that’s what you may find in their meat case. They don’t look as dramatic as the 3-inch cut, but two of these may be a more reasonable serving size. They’ll still amount to about ¾ pound per serving before cooking, which is adequately hefty.
  • Short ribs usually are cut across the bone (a “flanken” cut). You sometimes see them cut parallel to the bone, in which case the bone may be 5 or 6 inches long (an “English” cut).
  • We prefer short ribs that are cut from the chuck or rib, but they can also be cut from the brisket or plate. In fact, short ribs probably are most often cut from the plate. They’ll be good no matter where they come from.
  • We like to cook short ribs for a total of about 3 hours, which makes them very tender. Do note that the meat has a tendency to fall off the bone when cooked that long. You can reduce cooking time to 2 hours or so if you prefer. The meat won’t be quite as tender, but it’ll still be good (and the short ribs will remain more intact). But in any case, when you serve these you’ll be covering them with the sauce you made from the braising liquid, so if the short ribs look a little messy you can camouflage them.
  • This dish tastes best if you spread the cooking time over several days, as the Procedure instructs. That’s because the short ribs absorb flavor from the braising liquid as they rest in the refrigerator. But if you want to make this dish all in one day, just skip the parts where you refrigerate it. Or if you want to spread the cooking over two days, make the dish through Step 14 on day one, then proceed from there. 
  • Be aware that because short ribs are so fatty, they render quite a bit of greasy stuff as they cook. So if you cook this dish all in one day, you’ll have to plan on some major degreasing. It’s easiest if, after Step 13 (where you pour the liquid through a strainer and remove the veggies), you then pour the liquid into a fat separator. 
  • Port isn’t traditional in this dish, but we read about using it several years ago (wish we could remember where) and have been experimenting with it. It adds some nice depth of flavor and a bit of brightness. Ruby port has wonderful flavor and we recommend using it. Don’t use an expensive port, though – something that costs around $15 per bottle (or even a bit less) is perfect. If you’re not going to use the rest of the bottle within a couple of weeks, we suggest refrigerating the port. Even though it’s fortified and will keep for quite a while, it will oxidize over time and the flavor will decline.
  • What kind of red wine to use in this dish? Nothing too fancy, but something that tastes good. Côtes du Rhône is our favorite for this kind of dish, and you can find something that costs $8 to $12 per bottle. If in doubt, ask your friendly wine merchant what they recommend – they’ll have some great ideas.
  • Two bottles of wine sounds like a lot, but when reduced it makes a wonderful sauce. Though you can use just one bottle if you prefer, along with several cups of beef stock.
  • Beef base is concentrated beef stock. You’ll find jars of it in the soup aisle of your supermarket. If there are several brands, try them all until you find one you like. Do be aware that beef base contains a lot of salt, so use less salt than you might think necessary when making any dish that contains it.
  • We suggest using salt to season the meat before browning, and then to season the onion mixture when we sauté it. And again at the end of the dish (Step 15) when you taste the dish before serving. By adding salt to the meat and veggies at the beginning of the dish, you’re seasoning them when they benefit from it most. That may be all the salt you’ll need. 
  • If you don’t salt the meat and veggies at the beginning, the dish will probably taste flat, and you may find yourself using more salt than you would have had you seasoned some of the ingredients during the early stages of cooking.
  • Speaking of salt, we use kosher salt for cooking. Kosher salt is less salty by volume than regular table salt, because its texture is more coarse and it doesn’t pack down as much in a measuring spoon. If using regular table salt, we suggest starting with about half as much as we recommend. But always season to your taste, not ours.
  • If you don’t want to use porcini mushrooms in this dish, just use extra regular mushrooms (Step 6) when braising the short ribs – maybe a pound in total. BTW, using porcini mushrooms is an idea we read about some time ago (but again we can’t remember where). Porcinis do add a lot of flavor to the sauce.
  • Cornstarch isn’t a traditional thickener for this dish, but we like it because it’s easy to add at the last minute, and it gives a nice gloss to the dish. We don’t always thicken the sauce, though – it really depends on our mood.
  • Carrots and red wine are a dynamite combo. Ditto mushrooms and red wine. So we like serving them as sides with this dish. And who can resist mashed potatoes? They make a wonderful bed for the short ribs and sauce.
Wine-Braised Beef Short Ribs

Rib Ticklers

“Great dish,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “Your best rendition of short ribs, ever.”

“The most complex recipe too,” I said. “Short ribs, but no short cuts.”

“And it’s stick-to-your-ribs food,” said Mrs K R. “So to speak.”

“You wouldn’t be ribbing me now, would you?” I said.

“I’d never do that to a meat-and-potatoes man,” said Mrs K R. “That’s the long and short of it.”

True. Mrs K R never ribs me the wrong way.

You may also enjoy reading about:
Boeuf Bourguignon
Wine-Braised Beef Pot Roast
Red-Braised Beef
Moroccan Beef Tagine
Chipotle Mashed Sweet Potatoes
Lamb Rogan Josh
Green Chile Stew with Pork
Spicy Pork Vindaloo
Or check out the index for more

76 comments:

  1. It is snowing lightly as I type this comment, winter isn't over yet which makes this dish the perfect meal. I love that it takes three days, that way you're not stuck in the kitchen bending over a pot for hours at end. Plus, I love that it allows you to skim of the excess fat. I have a lamb shank recipe that I make a day in advance because lamb shanks also tend to be quite fatty and although some people love the richness, I can't do it. Your dish looks rich and delicious.

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    1. Hi Eva, although this recipe is a bit complicated, when you make it over 3 days it becomes rather easy. And you're right about the fat -- short ribs are loaded with fat, and it does all cook out. Refrigerating it, then removing the solidified fat is by far the easiest way to deal with it. Thanks for the comment.

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  2. This is a wonderful recipe and thank you so much for giving us a lot of detailed information, that takes time and effort on your part.

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    1. Hi Gerlinde, this recipe is way too long, but we had a lot of stuff to say. :-) And it's excellent -- better than most restaurant short ribs by far. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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    1. Hi Pam, this is the best kind! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  4. What a beautiful dish! It sounds so comforting and delicious!

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    1. Hi Kelsie, it's wonderful! Really good stuff. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  5. Yeah, no kidding, there is a snow storm going on right now here! I have never cooked beef short ribs myself but love it in restaurants. Got to try this delicious recipe for my first time.

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    1. Hi Evelyne, this dish is perfect for a snowy day! This dish takes a bit of time, but it's actually pretty easy. Just a long recipe to read! And promise, this is better than most restaurant short ribs. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  6. Mmmm, this looks wonderful! Love the flavors that a long, slow braise brings out of the beef! :)

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    1. Hi Pat, slow braising is such a terrific way to cook meat, isn't it? Love it! Thanks for the comment.

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  7. We love short ribs, I wait till they are on sale to splurge! With all the attention to detail in your recipe I know it's a good one. And yes, it's still winter here to, California style tho...

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    1. Hi Deb, short ribs used to be pretty cheap, but have gotten so trendy they're usually pretty pricey. So waiting until they're on sale is a great idea! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  8. Short ribs are on my list of must-make soon recipes! Love your version and all the detail that went into this lovely recipe. Delicious comfort food!

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    1. Hi Tricia, best comfort food ever. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  9. March has been the worst weather month so far for us and this looks like just what Mother Nature ordered ;)

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    1. Hi Laura, we always listen to Mother Nature when it comes to deciding what's for dinner. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  10. Short ribs are amazing like this! And yes, as much as we love that we get to light the grill a little more, there are still plenty of days to enjoy a slow-roasted dinner. John, this looks so good right now!

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    1. Hi Judy, braised short ribs have to been one of the best dishes around. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  11. What a mouthwatering dish, John. Can't remember when I last time had some such gorgeous beef shortribs.

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    1. Hi Angie, you need some in your life again, and soon. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  12. I love dishes like this on certain days; those when you know you have the luxury of time and can enjoy the process. We have some snow coming and those are the perfect days. A bit of music playing and a great recipe and I'm in heaven. This one looks and sounds fantastic John, thanks!

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    1. Hi Barb, this dish definitely needs a bit of time and attention, but the payoff is SO worth it! Really. Good. Stuff. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  13. I made slow-cooked short ribs for the first time several months ago. I wasn't aware of them until I saw them in the supermarket one day. The meat sort of reminded me of lamb shanks- lots of fat with tender meat. Two bottles of wine in the recipe- wow and yum!

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    1. Hi Fran, you could actually substitute lamb shanks for the short ribs. :-) They'd be just as good (you'd have to adjust the recipe a bit, though nothing major). And yeah, two bottles of wine, when reduced, is just outrageous, isn't it? :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  14. My mouth is drooling. It looks darn delish!

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    1. Hi Denise, it is. :D Thanks for the comment.

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  15. You got THAT RIGHT - this right here, PURE COMFORT FOOD!!!!!!

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    1. Hi GiGi, about as comfy as food can be. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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    2. Short ribs are my favorite! how did you know?! :) These turned out so perfectly.

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    3. Hi Ashley, just a lucky guess. :-) One of our favorites, too! Thanks for the comment.

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  16. This sounds like the perfect comfort food. Your short ribs sound yummy.

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    1. Hi Dawn, don't you love comfort food. It's so . . . comforting. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  17. Now this is a meal! Anything that contains 2 bottles of wine and port and porcinis has my vote. No doubt this would stick to my ribs! My mother would adore this!

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    1. Hi Abbe, it's a terrific dish. Your mom would love. You'd love. And manservant would definitely love. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  18. Lovely dish, looks delicious and hearty. Any idea how to make it wine free?

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    1. Hi Amira, you could make this with beef stock, or better yet, a combo of beef stock and demi glace. And may want to use more mushrooms, too, to add flavor. The wine obviously adds a lot of flavor, but so would demi glace and mushrooms. Thanks for the comment.

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  19. My ears get pointy when I read "depth of flavor". :)

    There was a Cajun chef on television used to say when asked what kind of wine to use. He would always say, "What kind you got?" That always made me laugh.

    Thanks for all the details. I love details.

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    1. Hi Madonna, I know that Cajun cook! Justin Wilson. Used to love his program. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  20. Hi John, my Peter isn't a fan of beef ribs, but this recipe of yours is sure to change his mind!

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    1. Hi Liz, this will definitely change his mind! Wonderful stuff. :- Thanks for the comment.

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  21. These short ribs sound fantastic and look amazing. I love short ribs but don't make them too often. When I do they're gone in minutes it seems. Nice recipe that I'll definitely try.

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    1. Hi Vicki, yup these get inhaled. And the plates licked. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  22. Absolutely gorgeous. I can feel the short ribs!

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  23. You're right. When layered with the interesting collection of flavors and textures, as those I see on your plate, braises are elegant make-ahead dinner party fare – whatever the season. GREG

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    1. Hi Greg, this dish tastes wonderful but all the added textures and color really do heighten its appeal. Thanks for the comment.

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  24. John, this is one of my very favorite comfort food meals. And you're right to not take shortcuts. I definitely prefer to make it over two or three days (easy degreasing!) and agree that carrots really go with the red wine braise. And mashed potatoes, well, what can I say, mashed potatoes!

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    1. Hi Jean, yup, mashed potatoes are key. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  25. My husband would definitely applaud if he came home to this delicious comfort food! I was hoping some spring-like temps would offer comfort, but it hasn't arrived here, either!

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    1. Hi Liz, we had some nice weather today, but it's going to be rainy and quite cool again tomorrow. :-( So more of this is in order! Thanks for the comment.

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  26. This is the perfect recipe for this time of year! Especially served with mashed potatoes!

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    1. Hi Carolyn, isn't this nice for cool weather? And yes, love mashed potatoes! Thanks for the comment.

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  27. Fabulous recipe! Sometimes longer recipes can look intimidating to people but I find they are not harder and always are worth the effort.

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    1. Hi Dahn, I think you're right that long recipes often look intimidating. And this one certainly is long! Really not all that difficult, though -- and the work is really divided up into 3 days, so that helps. Thanks for the comment.

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  28. This sounds like a terrific recipe. I braise short ribs often, and the two issues are always fat content and time. It's interesting to me the way you address them both by refrigerating the dish and then skimming the fat. I often leave more of the fat in, but then mix dried rigatoni into the pot in the final stage of braising to absorb some of it. I'm eager to try toyr method, though.

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    1. Hi Jeff, short ribs really are fatty, aren't they? This method does get rid of most of the fat (you can never get rid of it all. I've made short rib pasta sauce, but havne't thought to just mix pasta in with the sauce -- neat idea. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  29. I haven't had short ribs since we moved to Florida as our market hardly ever has them. Your photos have me wanting to find some soon. :)

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    1. Hi Karen, this does tend to be something markets in colder climates are more apt to stock. Worth putting in a special order so you can have them again! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  30. This is one of my favorite dishes to enjoy in the winter. Fall-apart tender meat in a flavorful reduced wine sauce is as cozy as a cashmere blanket. ;)

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    1. Hi Carolyn, good description -- this IS as cozy as a cashmere blanket. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  31. What a fantastic recipe, John! Love wine-braised short ribs. A 3 day cook sounds a bit daunting at first but there are advantages. Great set of notes following the recipe, too. You've thought of everything. Nicely done!

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    1. Hi John, high praise coming from you! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  32. Oh my word John this comfort food at its finest! Slow cooked, tender, juicy, saucy...what is not to like here. We still have snow on the ground here so these recipes are very welcome.

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    1. Hi Bobbi, this really is comfort food. So good! :-) And if you still have snow, you need some of this. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  33. Talk about the ultimate feast!!! What a plate of comfort good! Have never braised short ribs but when I do, this is the recipe! Everything about this meals is awesome. Thanks John!

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    1. Hi MJ, you really owe it to yourself to braise short ribs -- SO GOOD! :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  34. Oh my, a proper meal. I'm quite hungry now.
    Amalia
    xo

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    1. Hi Amalia, sorry about that hunger thing. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  35. Now this really is comfort food! Short ribs might be my very favorite bit of the cow. When they're made right—and this recipe looks very right to me—they're incredibly flavorful.

    (My last experience with ordering out short ribs was kind of disappointing. The meat didn't have any bone !?!? and very little sauce. Were they even ribs? Not really sure... More reason to make them at home!)

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    1. Hi Frank, when cooked long enough the bone does tend to detach from the meat, so I can see why you didn't receive any. But that IS disappointing not to have it -- so much fun to look at. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  36. Wow this is what a comfort meal look like! I can imagine the fork tender beef

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    1. Hi Raymund, this is a fantastic dish! SO good. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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  37. This is the way my other half loves to cook his meat long and slow. He would go crazy for this dish.

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    1. Hi Emma, this is a dish worth going crazy over. :-) Thanks for the comment.

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