This was one of those recipes that I just wouldn’t shut up about. We’d go to a party, I’d have a few drinks and BAM, I’d be telling someone about how I was going to have them over for some braised short ribs because I found this recipe that looks amazing! Smitten Kitchen of course.
By the time I finally got around to actually making this dinner, I’d created an 8 person dinner party. Luckily my friends are awesome and they all pitched in with drinks, appetizers, vegetables and dessert, leaving this fall apart beautiful meat and creamy polenta for me to make. I sent Chris to Gene’s Sausage Shop to pick up a whopping 12 short rips at around 14-16 ounces a piece. Apparently the people at the counter couldn’t stop telling Chris how beautiful the meat was and how much he was going to enjoy it. It was true.
12 beef short ribs, about 14 to 16 ounces each (ask for 3 bone center-cut)
2 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon thyme leaves, and 4 whole sprigs thyme
2 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup diced onion
2/3 cup diced carrot
2/3 cup diced celery
4 bay leaves
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 1/2 cups port
4 cups hearty red wine
8 cups beef or veal stock
8 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Season the short ribs with 1 tablespoon thyme and the cracked black pepper. use your hands to coat the meat well. Cover, and refrigerate overnight. (I didn’t do this but it still turned out fine.)
Take the short ribs out of the refrigerator an hour before cooking, to come to room temperature. After 30 minutes, season them generously on all sides with salt.
When you take the ribs out of the refrigerator, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
When it’s time to cook the short ribs, heat a large Dutch oven over high heat for 3 minutes. Pour in 3 tablespoons olive oil (I had to use two pans, so 3 T. in each), and wait a minute or two, until the pan is very hot and almost smoking. Place the short ribs in the pan, and sear until they are nicely browned on all three meaty sides. Depending on the size of your pan, you might have to sear the meat in batches. Do not crowd the meat or get lazy or rushed at this step; it will take at least 15 minutes. [I find this takes closer to 45 minutes if you're really thorough. Be thorough! sk] When the ribs are nicely browned, transfer them to a plate to rest.
Turn the heat down to medium, and add the onion, carrot, celery, thyme springs, and bay leaves. Stir with a wooden spoon, scraping up all the crusty bits in the pan. Cook 6 to 8 minutes, until the vegetables just begin to caramelize. Add the balsamic vinegar, port, and red wine. Turn the heat up to high, and reduce the liquid by half.
Add the stock and bring to a boil. Arrange ribs in the pot, lieing flat, bones standing up, in one layer. [If you used a saute pan for previous steps, transfer the ribs to a braising pan at this point.] Scrape any vegetables that have fallen on the ribs back into the liquid. The stock mixture should almost cover the ribs. Tuck the parsley sprigs in and around the meat. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and a tight-fitting lid if you have one. Braise in the oven for about 3 hours. (I had to use a large, oven safe soup pot and the inside pot from my crockpot to fit all the meat, but it worked!)
To check the meat for doneness, remove the lid and foil, being careful of the escaping steam, and piece a short rib with a paring knife. When the meat is done, it will yield easily to a knife. Taste a piece if you are not sure. [If you would like to cook these a day ahead, this is where you can pause. The next day, you can remove the fat easily from the pot -- it will have solidified at the top -- bring these back to a simmer on the stove or in an oven, and continue. sk] (If you look at the top picture, you will see how much FAT comes to the time. I cooked the ribs the night before and was glad when I saw all the fat at the top. Much easier to skim that way.)
Let the ribs rest 10 minutes in their juices, and then transfer them to a baking sheet.
Turn the oven up to 400 degrees F.
Place the short ribs in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes to brown.
Strain the broth into a saucepan, pressing down on the vegetables with a ladle to extract all the juices. Skim the fat from the sauce (if you made these the day before, you will have already skimmed them) and, if the broth seems thin, reduce it over medium-high heat to thicken slightly. Taste for seasoning.
3/4 cup créme fraîche
1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Combine the créme fraîche and horseradish in a small bowl. Season with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper. Taste for balance and seasoning.
Servings: 8 generous servings and leftovers
Notes: This is just pure wintertime decadence. Your house will smell amazing and your friends will love you.