A much better sauce made from a reduction of the braising liquid
Third attempt – same sauce as second attempt (straining, skimming the fat and then reducing), over quinoa. Full disclosure – I served it with the smallest onions I had just so that there was *some* semblance of vegetables. And they were excellent ! Really brings out the sweetness of the onion. If you want to do this, then add the peeled onions to the mixture during the last hour of braising.
First attempt – beef short ribs braised in red wine on soft polenta
The picture above is my first attempt at beef short ribs. The second attempt was far far better. So much better, in fact, that as soon as they were out of the oven, they were eaten (ie before I could remember to take a photo – oops). But I will update this post again with the new (!) and improved (!!) version, as I want to share what I did differently, and why.
Beef short ribs are uh-mazing. I bought two large packs of Australian beef short ribs from the Barbie Girls, each containing three gorgeously meaty, English-cut ribs. Ribs need time to cook to break down the connective tissue to make them t-e-n-d-e-r, and both times the ribs were cooked with the same ingredients.
The first time I was so eager to eat, that I forgot that ribs are a fatty cut of meat, and a lot of that renders out during the long cooking process. The end result was beautifully tender meat, but in an overly oily and thin sauce.
The second time I made this dish, I spent the time and effort to strain the sauce, skim as much fat as possible, and reduce the sauce, before adding the ribs and the sauce back in the same pot, and putting them back in the oven for another hour. It’s a little more effort for a far superior end result, with a rich, gravy-like sauce coating the entire rib. Full of flavour without the oiliness from my first attempt.
I also served the ribs the first time, over soft polenta. Weirdly, unlike pork ribs, which I like to serve with something contrastingly crunchy and refreshing, like a fresh coleslaw, I want to eat beef ribs with a similarly soft texture. But I think the polenta, while texture-wise was perfect, was carb-heavy, leaving a feeling of being really very full (OK, perhaps that was also down to pure portion size). The second time, I served it with cauliflower cheese. Yes, it’s rich from the cheese, but I think it’s the lack of carbs in that pairing … that left us with space for dessert (because let’s face it, this dish isn’t for the faint-hearted or diet-conscious – it’s pure indulgence).
Looong story over. I’ll have to make it again just so I can update the photo with the improved recipe.
Beef short ribs braised in red wine
- Beef short ribs – bone in – about 2.5kg
- 3 sticks celery, roughly chopped
- 1 large onion, roughly chopped
- 1 large carrot, roughly chopped
- Half a bottle of red wine – something heavier like a cabernet or even a shiraz I think works best
- 400ml beef stock
- *optional* Splash of brandy or port for a nice intense sweet undercurrent
- Sprig of rosemary
- Sprig of thyme
- 2 bay leaves
Method (the best way)
- In a large skillet, brown the ribs well – this will add depth of flavour from the caramelised sugars in the meat.
- In a large, heavy-based dutch oven or casserole dish, saute the onions, celery and carrot in some olive oil until soft
- Drain the oil from the skillet and transfer the meat to the dutch oven
- Add the wine, stock, brandy, rosemary, thyme and bay leaves to the pot. Ideally the ribs should be submerged in the liquid. Add additional stock or water if there isn’t enough
- Cover, and pop into your oven at 160C (320F) for 3 hours
- After 3 hours, take out the pot, take out the meat (it will already be tender and starting to fall off the bone) and carefully strain the liquid
- Discard what you’ve strained out – all those vegetables and herbs have imparted all their flavour in the sauce
- Return the liquid to the pot on high heat, and reduce by at least 30% – this will take about 20-30 minutes
- Pop the meat back in to the pot, cover, and return pot to the oven for another hour. There will be less liquid so the meat won’t be entirely covered, but don’t worry, the steam will help to cook any uncovered meat
- Serve with cauliflower cheese