I’ve made Suzanne Goin’s braised short ribs twice now, and the recipe below reflects my adaptations. I pretty much just use whatever short ribs are available, as they don’t seem to be common cuts of meat in Oregon. I don’t bother with the pearl onion bit in the original recipe; I generally use 1 bottle of red cooking wine and a hefty splash of Marsala, because I am more likely to have that on hand than port. I also use a 1 qt. box of organic beef broth instead of 6 cups.
The first time I made this, I did mashed potatoes and the Swiss chard Goin recommends to go with it. It came out lovely, but there wasn’t any chard at the grocery store the time, so I did green beans and a potato-sunchoke mash instead. I also somehow managed to leave the heat at 425F, breaking one of the cardinal rules of braising; but although there was a lot of evaporation through the lid and foil, the ribs came out fall-off-the-bone tender and beautifully browned. They tasted great and made fantastic leftovers as well, so I have to say this is one forgiving recipe.
Braised Beef Short Ribs
6 flanken-style beef short ribs (14 to 16 ounces each)
1 T fresh thyme leaves
1 T black pepper, or to taste
1 T kosher salt, or to taste
6 T olive oil
1 medium onion (about 1 C), chopped
1 carrot (about 1/3 C), chopped
2 celery stalks (about 1/3 C), chopped
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
2 T balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 C port or marsala
2 1/2 C dry red wine
4-6 C beef or veal stock
Before cooking, season the ribs with salt, pepper, and thyme, and allow to sit at room temperature for 1 hour. Set the oven at 325F.
In a large Dutch oven, heat 3 tablespoons of the oil over medium high heat until it is almost smoking. Sear the shortribs, meaty sides down, working in batches to avoid crowding, until they are browned on all meaty sides. Take your time; it should take at least 15 minutes. Transfer to a dish large enough to hold the ribs while you build the braising liquid.
Turn the heat down to medium, add the onion, carrot, celery, thyme sprigs, and bay leaves to the Dutch oven. Cook, stirring to scrape the crusty bits in the pan, for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the vegetables begin to caramelize. Add the vinegar, port, and wine. Turn the heat to high, and let the liquid bubble steadily until they reduce by half.
Pour in the stock and return the mixture to a boil. Return the short ribs to the liquid; it should almost cover them. Cover with parchment paper and lid snugly. Braise for about 3 hours, or until the meat offers no resistance when pierced with a paring knife. Let rest for 10 minutes, and then transfer them to a rimmed baking sheet. Turn the oven temperature to 400F. Roast the ribs for 10 to 15 minutes, or until browned.
Meanwhile, strain the cooking juices into a saucepan, pressing the vegetables to extract all the liquid. Skim off and discard the fat. Bring to a boil and let the mixture simmer to reduce it so it thickens slightly. Taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper, if you like. Serve with sautéed Swiss chard, potato puree and horseradish cream.
Source: Adapted from Sunday Suppers at Lucques by Suzanne Goin
Update 12/25/07: We made these for Christmas dinner with my parents, something we had hoped to do the year before in Colorado. There weren’t any extra, but they were delicious, served with mashed potatoes and cream-braised Brussels sprouts.