I won't lie: These short ribs take two days to make. Now, before you roll your eyes, just hear me out. Most of the time you will have little to do in the food prep department, because the ribs will take care of themselves, braising in the oven or marinating in the refrigerator. You will be actively involved in the beginning, when you brown the meat (a very important step, which will make you feel useful), and when you reduce the sauce (which, technically, your stove will do for you), and when you finish the stew an hour before serving. Your most difficult task will be, well, waiting.
All the time invested is for good reason: to tenderize the beef to a supple version of itself, and to infuse the meat and sauce with knock-your-socks-off flavor. So go ahead and give it a try. Start on a Friday and eat it over the weekend. Feel free to double the amount, so you can freeze the extras for a rainy day or an impromptu dinner party.
Red Wine and Chipotle Braised Short Ribs
Active Time: 1 1/2 hours
Total Time: 4 1/2 hours, plus 24 hours to refrigerate
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
3 1/2 to 4 pounds beef short ribs, cut into 3-inch pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large onion, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground paprika
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
1 (750-ml) bottle heavy-bodied red wine
1/4 cup chipotles in adobo, chopped (with juices)
1 bay leaf
2 cups beef stock
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 ounces pearl onions, peeled
1 to 2 large carrots, peeled, sliced 1/2-inch thick
Pinch of salt
Chopped Italian parsley leaves for garnish
Generously season the short ribs with salt and pepper. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before browning.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high. In batches, without crowding the pan, brown the ribs well on all sides, about 8 minutes. Transfer the meat to a plate and repeat with the remaining ribs.
Drain off the fat from the pot. Add 1 tablespoon oil, the onion, carrot and garlic. Saute the vegetables over medium heat until they begin to soften, about 3 minutes, stirring up any brown bits in the pan. Add the cumin, paprika and coriander and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add the tomato paste and stir to create a nice slurry. Add the wine, chipotles and bay leaf; return the ribs and any collected juices to the pot. Pour in the beef stock. If the ribs are not completely covered with the liquid, add more stock or wine to top off the ribs. Bring to a boil and immediately turn off the heat. Cover the pot, transfer to the oven, and cook until the ribs are very tender, about 3 hours, stirring every hour or so.
Remove the pot from the oven. Uncover and let the braise cool slightly. At this point you can remove the bones and cut away any gristle from the ribs or proceed with the bones intact -- however you like to serve ribs. Cover the pot and refrigerate overnight. (This step will allow the fat to congeal on the top of the stew, which will be easily removed before proceeding the next day. It also allows the flavors to develop overnight.)
At least 1 hour before serving, remove the pot from the refrigerator and lift off the layer of fat from the surface of the stew. Gently reheat the stew over medium-low until the stock is liquid enough to remove the ribs. Carefully remove the ribs from the sauce and arrange in one layer in a large baking dish.
Strain the sauce through a strainer, pressing down on the solids to extract as much flavor as possible, and transfer the sauce to a large saucepan. Bring to a boil and simmer until the sauce is reduced by about half and has a thickened to a rich consistency, 15 to 20 minutes. Add the balsamic vinegar and sugar and season to taste with salt and pepper.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Heat a large skillet over medium. Add the oil, onions, carrots and a pinch of salt; saute until the vegetables are crisp-tender and bright in color, about 3 minutes, and add to the sauce. Pour the sauce over and around the short ribs and transfer to the oven. Roast, uncovered, until the meat is thoroughly heated through, about 20 minutes. Serve warm, garnished with parsley.
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