Short ribs are the quintessential caveman cut, straight from Fred Flintstone’s larder. With their hunks of rich meat on the bone, they look primal and carnivore-ready. They’re a rich winter meal, too, easy and forgiving to cook under their sleek caps of fat, melting into tender chunks of pull-apart beef in the oven.
In the past, short ribs have been a favorite of mine for another reason, besides their incredibly rich taste: They are inexpensive. That may have changed a bit in the last few years. This formerly cheap cut, found with the stew beef and other tough braising meats, has become so trendy that prices (at least in my grocery store) have risen accordingly.
They’re still a deal compared with a steak or tenderloin, though, and perhaps your meat counter isn’t as sensitive to trends. The trade-off in the price hike is that it’s easier to find them. A few years ago, I would always have to ask at the meat counter; these days, I often find them in the meat case with other cuts of beef.
I usually buy short ribs with the bone still attached, which is cheaper. The more expensive boneless cuts are convenient and easier for serving, but I think the bone adds flavor in cooking. Sometimes the short ribs will be chopped into short chunks, with one or two bones apiece. Other times you may find longer strips, like I have here. It really doesn’t matter either way since the meat is going to fall off the bone after it is cooked, and the meat becomes so tender that it’s easy to separate into individual servings.
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While I prefer cooking short ribs in the oven, you also can do it in the slow cooker or on the stove.
Short ribs usually come with quite a bit of fat, which insulates the meat and keeps it moist and tender while cooking. But all that fat can make the meat feel greasy. I like to chill short ribs overnight and remove the chilled fat before reheating and serving. They reheat easily and usually taste better the second day.
That’s why short ribs are such a convenient dinner party dish. You can do all the work the day before, then just reheat and serve.
Faith Durand is a writer for TheKitchn.com. Email comments or questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Braised Short Ribs
3 pounds bone-in short ribs
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large onion, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 cups liquid, such as beer, wine, or broth (see note)
2 to 4 sprigs fresh herbs, such as rosemary or thyme
Heat the oven to 325 degrees. Brush each short rib with vegetable oil, then sprinkle generously with salt and pepper.
Heat a deep, wide Dutch oven or saute pan over medium high heat. Add the short ribs in one layer, leaving room between each (work in batches if necessary). Sear the short ribs without moving for several minutes on each side, letting them brown deeply. Turn and continue to sear all sides, about 15 minutes total.
Reduce heat to medium and add the onion and garlic around the browned short ribs. Cover and cook the onions about 5 minutes, or until they soften.
Add the liquid – beer, wine or broth – and bring to a simmer. Add the herbs, then cover the pan tightly and move to the oven. (Or transfer to a slow cooker for 8 hours on low, or continue cooking on very low heat on the stove.) Bake 2 to 2 1/2 hours, or until the meat is very tender and coming away from the bone.
Let rest in a covered pan for 20 minutes before serving. Serve by gently tugging the chunks of meat away from the bone and spooning the saucy onions over top. Optional: Refrigerate overnight. Remove the fat from the top, cover and warm over low heat for 15 to 20 minutes. Yield: 4 servings.