Slow Braised Beef Short Ribs - How Slow Would One Go to Cook Hers?

by Shirl

Seated at the counter that faces the cozy kitchen, my dining companion and I fixated on our main course, the 24-hour short ribs as we made our way through it. We were having dinner in Santa Barbara in a fantastic restaurant named Julienne, when bemusement, if not only bedazzlement, set in as we tried to make sense of what we were experiencing. Yes, we love and eat beef short ribs as much and often as the next guy does. But this plate is wildly different. 

On the outside, the ribs look as enticing as you’d expect any good short rib dishes do. Bafflement begins when you cut into the rib. Suddenly you start questioning your senses: You feel as though your knife is running through some very tender cut, not unlike prime ribs. Not to mention you are now bewildered at the sight of a rosy-pink interior, when what you were anticipating was a rich dark brown color that normally comes with long, slow cooking. You can’t help but wonder: Is it possible that short ribs cooked only to medium-rare yields a tender texture like a steak? Well, there's only one way to find out. You pick up a piece with your fork and taste. Sinking your teeth into the caramelized crust, your palette registers that concentrated richness of meat flavor right away. Next comes your appreciation of its crispy crackly texture, which, by all means, contrasts brilliantly with the juicy tender beef underneath it. Short ribs could do that? Imagine the enlightenment that hit me that evening.

David Chang of Momofuku, who operates some of my favorite restaurants in New York City, has published a 48-hour short ribs recipe in his acclaimed cookbook. It involves cooking the ribs in sous vide method for a full two days.  That poses a couple of issues for me. One, usually I don’t start to cook until I get hungry, so I don’t really have the stomach and patience to wait 48 hours for my next meal to come about. Two, I don’t have an immersion circulator in my kitchen, so attempting the sous vide method is definitely out of question. But do I really want to give up just because I’m not equipped to cook my short ribs at a constant temperature of 140F (60C) for 48 hours straight?
roasted short ribs
In this case, I’m willing to settle for less. I know, without the proper length of cooking time and equipment, I would never be able to create the same excellent results the professional chefs out there do. As an avid cook, my challenge is to streamline a professional recipe to something simple and convenient enough to make at home whenever I have a craving for those delicious short ribs. I’ve found cooking them in the oven at a low temperature of 190F (90C) for just eight hours yields some very tender and juicy meat that somewhat resembles what I tasted at Julienne. Remember, only the oven has to work 8 hours; you don’t. If you use a food processor, the actual preparation and active cooking takes only half an hour. If you broil or sear the ribs before you serve them, you will get that wonderful crust that any meat lovers live for. The bonus is you'll have a pot of rich beef stock left over, good as sauces for any dish or for cooking your next batch of short ribs. Try it on a weekend! 

Want another beef dish that cooks faster? Grilled Skirt Steak should do.  Up for more braising, try Lion's Head Meatballs.

Slow-Cooked Short Ribs

Serves 3 – 4

3 pounds (1.3 Kg) Boned-in Beef Short Ribs
3 cups Beef stock
1 Onion
3 Carrots
1 Stalk of Celery
2 cloves of Garlic
1 cup of dry Red Wine
1/4 Teaspoon of Dried Oregano
1/2 Teaspoon of Ground Allspice
1/4 Teaspoon of Ground Cumin
1 Teaspoon of Ground Coriander Seeds
1 Bay Leaf
1/2 Teaspoon of Paprika
1 Tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper

Suggested Side Dishes:  Glazed Carrots, Mash Potatoes
Optional Equipment:  Food Processor, Fat Separator

1. Preheat oven at 195F (90F).

2. Cut vegetables to manageable pieces and puree, including garlic, in food processor until fine.

3. Heat a big cooking pot (one that comes with a tight-fitting lid) over a medium flame.  Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil.  When oil shimmers, add pureed vegetables, stir and cook for about 5 minutes.

4. Add wine and use cooking spatula to scrape the bottom of the pot to release any brown bits.  Let wine cook down to about half the volume.  Then add beef stock.  Turn heat up and bring to a boil.  Stir in spices and bay leaf.  Turn flame down to low enough so it would simmer, but not too vigorously, for about 15 minutes.  Check seasoning.  Add salt and pepper if desired.  Turn off the heat and let stand for 5 minutes. 

5. Season short ribs with salt and pepper liberally.  Put short ribs into the pot.  They will not be fully submerged in the stock.  Now put the lid on.  Place it in the preheated oven and let them cook for about 4 hours.  Then turn over the ribs; cover and cook in the oven for another 4 hours. 

6. Remove pot from oven after cooking for a total of 8 hours.  Preheat broiler.  Take ribs out of the pot and place them in a broiler-proof dish.  Meanwhile separate or skim fat from the cooking stock.  Keep stock in the pot.  Turn on the stove to a high simmer and cook down the stock to a sauce consistency for about 10 minutes.  Check seasoning.  Add salt and pepper if desired.

7. Broil short ribs bone-side down under preheated broiler for a few minutes just until pieces turn a gorgeous brown.  Alternatively you can heat a pan with oil.  When it’s hot, sear the ribs until they turn a delicious brown.  Place short ribs on serving plates.  Spoon sauce over short ribs and serve with your favorite side dishes.

You will have plenty of the flavorful beef stock left, which would be perfect for later use as a sauce.  Or freeze it until next time you cook your next short rib dish again.

From our partner: LO+JUNE

From our partner: LO+JUNE
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