Once we've conquered the Thanksgiving turkey, our ovens and palates are primed for heartier, slower-cooking cuts of meat as we head into December.
There's nothing quite like placing a pot of red meat and vegetables into the oven and letting it cook low and slow, warming the entire house and filling it corner to corner with the intoxicating aroma of a satisfying supper in the making. Consider the dependable pot roast, traditional beef stew, the more Alaskan bear stew or, perhaps for Christmas, the fancier prime rib.
Along with stew meat cuts, short ribs often tend to be on the more affordable end of the red meat spectrum. When long-braised, they are fork tender and oh-so rich. Short ribs on the bone develop a deep, complex broth while cooking, which you'll want to sop up with polenta, mashed potatoes or a loaf of crusty bread.
This version of red wine-braised short ribs simmers for three hours with carrots, onions, celery and tomatoes. If you have fresh herbs on hand this winter, feel free to add a few sprigs of your favorites to the pot, but if you don't, this dish stands well on its own.
Red wine-braised short ribs
3 pounds bone-in beef short ribs, about 6 pieces
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 yellow onions, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 (15 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
2 cups good red wine
1 cup beef broth
Fresh herbs like rosemary, thyme and/or flat-leaf parsley (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Pat the short ribs dry and season them generously with salt and pepper all over.
2. Place a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the oil. Sear the short ribs until nicely browned on all sides. Transfer the short ribs to a plate and set aside.
3. To the hot pan, add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cook the vegetables, stirring often, for about 4 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook another 2 minutes. Stir in the diced tomatoes and the wine, and add the short ribs to the pot. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to medium and simmer 25 minutes, until the wine has reduced a bit. Stir in the beef broth and herbs, if using.
4. Cover the pot and transfer it to the preheated oven. Braise for 3 hours. Remove any sprigs of herbs prior to serving. Serve the braised short ribs along with the vegetables and juices over creamy polenta or mashed potatoes. Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, October 2011.