Go big or go home, right? I figured there was no better way to start off the year than with a recap of these short ribs I made for New Year’s Eve dinner. While I would’ve prefered sleeping in late and resting up for the night’s festivities, this was a day long endeavor. But it was a lot of fun – and a morning visit to the meat counter at the Eastern Market is always a good way to start your day. Besides, you know that any dish calling for 2 pints of Guinness is sure to be worthwhile.
The main reason this dish takes so long, aside from the 2 plus hours for braising, is because you spend a great deal of time layering in flavors. Slow cooking lesser cuts of meat is always a surefire way to kick up a dish because you are drawing out flavor from the fat, connective tissue, and, in the case of short ribs, the bones. But there are plenty of other steps along the way that allow for layering in even more flavors – using a dry rub, using the bacon fat to sear the short ribs, sautéing the vegetables in the remaining fat, infusing the store-bought beef stock, using a deep and rich stout, reducing the sauce and proper seasoning along the way.
All of these extra steps lead to a dish that is complex, savory and worth the extra effort.Stout-Braised Short Ribs Loosely based on this recipe from Gourmet Serves 4-6
8-10 short ribs, on the bone 3 TBSP brown sugar 2 tspn kosher salt 2 tspn smoked paprika 1 1/2 tspn ground coffee 1 tspn ground black pepper 1 tspn chili powder 1/2 tspn garlic powder pinch cayenne 2 1/2 cups beef stock 1/2 onion, chopped 1 celery rib, chopped 1 carrot, chopped 4 black pepper cloves 1/2 tspn dried thyme 4 ounces bacon, diced 1 onion, finely diced 2 carrots, peeled and finely diced 2 celery ribs, finely diced 4 cloves garlic, minced 1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
2 pints stout (I used Guinness) 2 sprigs rosemary Kosher salt and black pepper for seasoning
Meanwhile, prep the dry rub. In a bowl, combine the brown sugar, kosher salt, paprika, ground coffee, black pepper, chili powder, garlic powder and cayenne. Mix together with a whisk until there are no clumps.
Once the meat has come to room temperature, thoroughly coat the ribs on all sides with the rub and reserve for 15 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees with the rack positioned in the lower third of the oven.
Bring a large dutch oven or high-walled, heavy-duty pot, to medium heat. Add the diced bacon and saute until browned. Remove with a slotted spoon and reserve. Working in batches, sear the short ribs on all sides until a nice brown crust forms – about 3-4 minutes per side.
Meanwhile, prep the beef stock by infusing more flavor. Many store-bought stocks can be bland or mild in flavor. Adding vegetables, herbs, and spices and simmering for a short period of time will heighten the flavor of the stock.
In a medium sauce pan, add the beef stock, 1/2 chopped onion, 1 chopped carrot, 1 chopped celery rib, black pepper cloves and 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme. Simmer for 15 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh sieve and reserve the liquid. Discard the vegetables.
Separately, remove all but 1-2 tablespoons of fat that has accumulated in the dutch oven or pot. Maintaining medium heat, add the finely diced onion, carrots, and celery, season with kosher salt and pepper and saute for 5 minutes. Stir often with a wooden spoon to scrape up the brown meaty bits that have accumulated on the bottom of the dutch oven. Add the minced garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
Add the diced tomato, reserved bacon, flavored beef stock and stout. Stir all of the ingredients together, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper as needed.
Return the short ribs to the braising mixture, nestling the ribs among the vegetables – the liquid should nearly cover the ribs. Add the rosemary sprigs, cover and place in the preheated oven. Cook for 2 1/2 hours.
Turn off the oven. Remove the dutch oven, uncover and rest on top of the stove for 10-15 minutes. Gently remove the short ribs from the braising mixture and reserve on a pan. Remove and discard the rosemary sprigs. Place the ribs back in the oven to keep warm. At this point, the ribs will look something like this (notice how it’s much darker than when the ribs were initially seared off):
Add half of the braising mixture to a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. If you prefer a smoother sauce, puree the entire mixture. Return to the dutch oven and combine with the remaining mixture. Bring to a light simmer and reduce for 10-15 minutes.
At this point, you are ready to serve. There are multiple options for serving. You can return the ribs to the dutch oven, mix together with the sauce and serve. You can place the ribs on a serving platter or in a casserole dish, cover with the sauce and serve. You can serve directly to plates and spoon the sauce over the ribs. Or, if you really want to get fancy, you can glaze the ribs under the broiler, then serve on top of the sauce. To do this, arrange the ribs on a pan, use a brush to coat the ribs with some of the reduced sauce and place under the broiler for 3-5 minutes. This will give the ribs an additional sear and crispy texture on the outside.
We were going to a friend’s house for dinner, so I just used a casserole dish and served the ribs family style.
As for what to serve the short ribs with, I would recommend serving over a bed of whipped potatoes or creamy polenta.