Spring has sprung! (Yay, daffodils! Yay, tulips! Yay, every other form of emerging life!!) For some people, this means lamb or rabbit; for others, it means welcoming in the coming year’s harvest via sprouts, spring vegetables, kale, and the like. Whether you eat meat or not, spring is an undeniably exciting time of year–the world around you begins to stir and life resumes its cycle of defying death in beautiful and surprising ways.
Speaking of beautiful and death-defying, there is truly nothing like sinking your teeth into a skillfully-prepared piece of meat. Flavorful, tender, juicy and decadent, meat is a luxury consumed quite casually in modern American culture. If I were to wet my finger and stick it to the air, however, I might be inclined to say this attitude is changing…but I think there will always be something primal in us that is hardwired towards calorie-rich foods, meat being no exception to this rule. Wherever you choose to guide your diet, from vegan to carnivorous paleo, we must nod to our ancient brain development and growth as being linked, at first, to hunting and cooking. (Edit: This is still debated in the scientific community; here is an example of a counterpoint which posits that bone marrow and fatty brain tissue, not flesh, were the key players in brain development.)
Today, of course, there’s no strict need to kill for calories; if you look for it, you can find frozen cauliflower crust pizza at the grocery store. We’ve come a long way since crafting stone tools and crudely practicing butchery as early as 3.4 million years ago. But who knows, maybe there were those among us who opted instead to find essential amino acids in ways other than animal-based proteins…
For me, meat is an indulgence, so I tend to choose when and how I eat it deliberately. While shouldering the climate crisis responsibility (specifically as it relates to deforestation, water pollution, and methane gas emissions, all associated with overconsumption of meat) is a heavy cross to bear, chances are we could all afford to eat a little less, and a little more “cleanly.” Soap box aside, these short ribs are incredibly simple, elegant, and decadent–and very rich and filling. Do your part and support a local butcher, if you can; splurging here on high quality meat is really worth it. Make this a special occasion meal, and you will not be disappointed.
What Are Short Ribs?
Short ribs are a cut of meat typically taken from the chuck or brisket areas of a cow and are formed from the shortest portion of the rib cage where the bones are not quite long enough to be considered “ribs.”
Short ribs are typically cut into two ways: either in individual pieces with meat around the bone (English style) or in one long piece of meat holding three cross sections of rib together (“plate” style).
What’s Great About Short Ribs?
Short ribs have a naturally high fat content and therefore, if cooked properly, they can be incredibly flavorful and tender. They are also very rich and filling, so less meat “goes further” when it comes time to eat.
Where Can I Purchase Short Ribs?
This is a great excuse to head to your local butcher and strike up a conversation! Supporting local always feels good. If this option is not accessible to you, I recommend checking out delivery services such as Moink Box or Porter Road.
Ok, I’m Hungry…Show Me The Recipe!
First, gather your ingredients.
For this recipe, I used Kettle & Fire brand bone broth–and no, they are not paying me to say this. I find it is readily available in most grocery stores and is a good quality for the price. Of course, you can always substitute regular stock or broth, but low-sodium is good here, unless you factor that in as you season the dish.
What I love about this recipe is how straightforward it is. Brown the seasoned meat, flavor the remaining oil with two heads of garlic, then add your chopped vegetables and tomato paste (also known as mirepoix).
Garlic flavored rendered fat and canola oil coats the vegetables as they removed all the crispy browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add your liquids and thyme…
Then in go the browned short ribs so that the meat is submerged (bone up).
Then cover and bake at a low temperature for 3 1/2 to 4 hours.
Serve with rice or potatoes, and don’t forget to enjoy it with your sauce, fresh herbs, and Alison Roman’s recommended lemon zest!
…did I mention the knife is optional? And don’t miss out on all that flavorful fat–after all it is good for your brain 🙂
Braised Short Ribs (Adapted from Alison Roman)
- 6.2 liter heavy bottomed dutch oven
- 3-4 lbs short ribs, at least 2 per person but no more than 5 lbs
- diamond kosher salt, for seasoning
- finely ground pepper, for seasoning
- 2 Tbs canola oil
- 2 heads garlic, halved crosswise through the bulbs
- 1 1/2 cups celery, chopped
- 1 1/2 cups carrots, chopped
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 3/4 bottle dry red wine
- 2 cups beef broth, preferably bone broth, or one package Kettle & Fire bone broth
- 4 grams fresh thyme, tied in a small bundle if you have the baker's twine
- chopped parsley, for serving
- chopped chives, for serving
- freshly grated lemon zest, for serving
- Generously season dry ribs on all sides with salt and freshly ground pepper. Set aside 15-30 minutes before browning to allow the meat to come to room temperature.
- Preheat oven to 275°F.
- Chop celery, carrots, and onion into large chunks and set aside. Uncork wine.
- Heat canola oil over medium-high flame in a heavy bottomed dutch oven. Working in batches if necessary, brown the meat on all sides until golden, about 10 minutes. Place on a wide plate, then pour rendered fat into a liquid measuring cup. Add 2-3 tablespoons of the fat back into the dutch oven, then add the chopped vegetables. Cook about 5 minutes, stirring constantly, or until the browned bits from the bottom of the pan have been lifted from the moisture from the vegetables.
- Add tomato paste and stir. Cook about 3 minutes, or until the paste has begun to caramelize, become fragrant, and turned a rusty color.
- Add wine to the pot, slowly at first so you can scrape up any remaining brown bits. Add the remainder and simmer about 2 minutes. Add the broth and thyme and stir. Add browned ribs, meat side down, into the liquid and bring everything to a simmer. Cover with a lid and bake in the oven 3 1/2 to 4 hours. The short ribs should be falling off the bone and very tender.
- Gingerly remove short ribs from the dutch oven using tongs. Place on a serving platter and cover with tin foil, allowing them to rest about 10-15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, skim as much fat as possible from the liquid in the dutch oven. Drain over a bowl using a fine mesh seive and discard the vegetables and garlic. Return the liquid to the dutch oven and cook over medium heat, until the mixture has reduced noticeably, about 10 minutes.
- As the sauce is reducing, chop parsley and chives and zest the lemon. Uncover short ribs and garnish with herbs and zest, and plenty of sauce. Enjoy with rice or potatoes, and the last 1/4 bottle of wine.