I know cooks aren’t supposed to congratulate themselves, but every time I make this recipe I think: “Wow; that’s really good.” And it is. And it’s easy. And, as well, it fills the kitchen with the most delectable scents that are the perfect antidote to a rainy November day. It’s a rich and bold way to braise ribs, complemented by just a hint of sweetness.
While it does take some time to cook, by the time you throw it in the oven the dish is on its own. You’ve already done the work, so you can relax while getting the other components of the meal ready. You could also prepare the meat the day before you want to serve it, stick it in the fridge, remove any excess fat, then reheat it. Having that time to rest adds even more satisfying flavours to the dish.
If you find the sauce a little thin after cooking, one option is to remove the ribs from the braising liquid, strain it into a smaller pot and simmer for about 15 minutes to intensify its depth. While you’re doing that, you can throw the ribs onto a baking sheet and into a 400° oven to crisp them up a little. It’s another step, of course, but one that you might want to try.
The parsnip mixture is a wonderful accompaniment to the meat and works so well with the sauce, but you could always make mashed potatoes or whipped cauliflower. With just a hint of horseradish, there’s a subtle kick in the dish that brings it all together. If you’re not keen on beer, you could exchange it for a hearty red wine. But the dark ale, along with the tomato and balsamic vinegar, make an intensely flavoured braise that just, well, works.
Beer Braised Short Ribs
5 pounds or about 2 1/3 kilos bone-in short ribs, trimmed of extra fat
2 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled, minced
2 tbsp tomato paste
½ cup balsamic vinegar (a cheap one is fine)
3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
24 oz dark beer (I use two cans of Guinness, about 3 ½ cups)
2 ½ to 3 cups beef broth (enough to cover meat in pot)
parsley, minced (garnish)
Season ribs with salt and pepper on all sides. Be generous. Heat large Dutch oven (7 to 8 quarts) over medium-high heat; add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of pot. Once oil is hot, brown short ribs on each side, in batches. Take your time, making sure you get a good sear on all sides. Place browned ribs on a plate; keep going until all ribs have been seared.
Preheat oven to 325°. Once you’ve taken all of the seared ribs out of the pot, turn heat down to medium-low; pour off all except about 1 tbsp of the oil and fat. Add onion, celery, season with salt, pepper; cook until softened, about 8 minutes. Add garlic; sauté a couple more minutes. Add tomato paste, stir and cook for a minute, then add vinegar, Worcestershire, beer. Scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom. Return browned ribs to the pot. Try to set it up so the meatiest bits are facing down. If the pan is packed, you can stack them vertically. Add enough broth to just cover ribs. Bring liquid to simmer; turn off heat. Cover pot tightly with foil, then with lid (to keep ribs moist as they cook).
Bake for 3 hours, until meat is falling off the bone. Remove from oven; let the ribs rest, uncovered, for 15 minutes. Skim fat off top.
Can easily be made ahead of time. If doing so: once cool, put in fridge in the pot, then take any fat/oil off the top when you pull it out of fridge. Heat, covered, in oven.
Serve with parsnips; garnish with parsley if desired.
2 lbs parsnips, peeled, sliced into chunks
3 tbsp butter
⅓ cup whipping cream
2-4 tsp prepared horseradish (your choice, depending on taste)
In a large pot, combine chunks of parsnips with enough cold water to cover. Place over medium-high heat, cover and bring to a boil. Once pot is boiling, reduce heat to simmer; cook until tender, about 20 minutes. Drain.
Mash hot parsnips with butter, cream, horseradish and pepper until desired texture.
The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, Deb Perelman, Alfred A. Knopf
Half Baked Harvest Every Day, Tieghan Gerard, Clarkson Potter