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Sara's Secrets: Braised Short Ribs

Well...the sauce is delicious. But for the amount of work that you have to put into this dish, the end result isn't worth it. The problems are easily solved, however: simply use a different cut of meat.

Sara's Secrets for Weeknight Meals has a chapter titled "Cooking Ahead," in which she offers recipes that are more time-consuming than the other recipes in the book. These are ideas for weekend projects; dishes that you can cook on Saturday and then keep in the refrigerator or freezer for upcoming meals. This slow braise of beef is one of those recipes. In fact, this dish, like most stews or braises, tastes better the day after it is made.

This ribs recipe sounds fantastic, but the reality of ribs is that they're fatty and don't yield a lot of meat. In this rendition, the meat isn't even served on the bone, which to me is the whole point of ribs. The meat is picked off the bones in a time-consuming and annoying last step before serving. I don't see a great reason to use ribs here at all. Another cut of beef that's suitable to a slow braise would work better, requiring less handling after cooking and yielding less-fatty results. Instead of fussing about with ribs and bones, cook a chuck roast in the braising liquid. Then all you have to do is slice the roast and serve it with the tasty sauce.

Sara Moulton gives the braising time for this recipe as 2 1/2 hours. I needed to cook the ribs for 3 hours before they were tender. A chuck roast will also require about 3 hours of cooking time.

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: about 3 hours
Yield: 4 to 6 servings

5 pounds beef short ribs, OR a 3 to 3 1/2 pound chuck roast, tied with string
Salt and pepper
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 medium carrots, coarsely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced (about 1 Tbsp)
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 bottle (750 ml) red wine
3 1/2 cups chicken broth (two 14.5 oz. cans)
2 Tbsp flour
2 Tbsp softened butter

Pat the roast dry and season on all sides with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large, ovenproof roasting pan. Place the roast in the pan and brown on all sides, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the roast to a platter or bowl with tongs.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Reduce the heat under the roasting pan to medium; add the onion and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, about 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomato paste, thyme, and bay leaf and cook for 2 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to the platter with the roast. Add the wine to the roasting pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until reduced to 1 cup, about 12 minutes. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Add the roast and vegetables, cover the pan tightly, and place in the oven. Cook until the meat is tender and falls apart when poked with a fork, about 3 hours.

Transfer the roast to a plate with tongs and let stand until cool enough to handle. Strain the broth into a bowl. Discard the solids and return the liquid to the roasting pan. Skim off any fat, bring the liquid to a boil, and reduce to about 1 1/2 cups.

If using ribs: Remove beef from the bones. Pull off and discard excess fat from the ribs. Discard the bones. Reserve the meat on a plate.

If using a roast: Remove the string. Place the roast on a plate until ready to serve.

Knead together the flour and butter in a small bowl. Add a few tablespoons of the reduced broth, stirring to combine. Whisk the butter mixture into the broth in the roasting pan. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Return the beef to the pan and heat through. Serve the meat topped with the sauce.



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