Braised Short Ribs (aka Nap-time Short Ribs)

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Sometimes I tackle dishes over and over, and I can’t seem to get them right.  A good Short Rib has been one of those dishes for me.  At some point, I just gave up trying to do it fancy.  I dumped a few things in a pot and put the heat lower than I ever thought safe for cooking meat.  Several hours later, I realized I had cracked the code.  I make these short ribs about once a week, because they are so easy.

I call them my nap-time short ribs: I take about 10 minutes to prep these when the kids go to sleep around 1 pm, and throw them in the oven. I pull them out around 6 pm, and dinner is ready. (I serve them with rice, but I can cook that anytime.)

These are the exact ingredients: (but I explain how easy substitutions are below)
  • 3 pounds bone-in short ribs
  • 1 onion
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1 bunch cilantro, leaves and stems chopped
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1 tbsp. soysauce
  • 1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 3 cups chicken stock/broth
Braising is usually three steps:
  1. Sear the meat
  2. Throw in any aromatics (onions/garlic/fruit/cilantro etc.)
  3. Pour in braising liquid (wine/stock/soy sauce etc.) and cook low and slow
I don’t stray from this formula.  But first, a few notes on the pot to use.  The same pot is used to sear the meat on the stove and then braise it in the oven. You can use cast iron, enameled cast iron, stainless steel or a copper pot as long as it doesn’t have a wooden/plastic/synthetic handle.  If your pot has a plastic/rubber handle it will melt in the oven.  It will smell bad.  You don’t want this to happen.  You also want the pot to have a lid so you contain all the goodness while its cooking in the oven.

Step 1: Sear the Meat
So now that you have an oven-safe pot . . . Heat some oil until it is VERY hot.  I test this by sprinkling a tiny bit of water when I think it is hot enough.  If the water sizzles right away, you are ready to go.  Give your short ribs a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper and put them in the hot oil.  Seer short ribs on all sides.  This might only take about 1 minute per side.

When I promised you terrible iPhone pictures on this blog I wasn’t kidding.  Here is my meat searing in all its phone-photo glory:

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Step 2: Aromatics
This part is optional.  Anything you put in will make these ribs better, but if you don’t put anything, they are still delicious.  This particular day I sliced an onion  and threw in about 6 whole garlic cloves (peeled).  Everything gets so soft and juicy that big hunks of onion/garlic in the final dish are an awesome thing.

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I also chopped up the entire head of cilantro, stems included and threw them in (I must have taken this picture before I added the cilantro.)  Good rule of thumb, if you are cooking the cilantro, you can use the stems.  If you are just sprinkling it on top of a dish after it has cooked, only use the leaves.

In the past I have thrown in a chopped pear after reading this post.  I have also completely skipped this step, because the only thing I had in the house was a loaf of bread.

Step 3: Liquid
I am very scientific about this step.  This is exactly what I did: 2 glugs of red wine from the bottle I had open. 1 smaller glug of soy sauce. 1 more small glug of Worcestershire sauce. About 4 glugs of chicken stock (I like this kind but anything is fine.)  Basically add liquid until your short ribs are covered about 50% with liquid.

Then I put a lid on the pot, and put it in the oven at 275 degrees F for roughly 5 hours.  This temperature is SO LOW and therefore SO FORGIVING.  Five hours is what works with my schedule.  If you needed to leave it in for 6 or 7 hours it would probably be just fine.  If you needed to take it out at 4 hours because everyone is starving I bet it would be fine too.  Open up the lid and take a fork to the ribs.  You want them to fall apart when you pull at them.  If they do that, they are ready!

I served over rice and sprinkled a little bit of my extra cilantro on top.  These would also be great over sweet potatoes.

This is Baby Jack’s dinner plate.  Braised short ribs are particular nice for humans without many teeth because the meat is SO tender.  It shreds itself when they pick it up.

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