Braised short ribs two ways

French-style Asian-style

I have a special place in my heart for beef stew (from fond childhood memories of Chinese beef noodle soup) but braised short ribs are threatening to knock beef stew from its pedestal. They’re actually not that different — both involve slowly simmering tough cuts of beef until they’re falling apart tender — but since the liquid used to braise short ribs isn’t meant to be consumed in large quantities, it means some pretty intense flavors can be incorporated. The time in the oven also blackens some of the exposed meat, giving it a caramelized, grilled texture.

My friend Eugene passed along a recipe for braised short ribs to me several years ago and I only just gave it a try today. It is decidedly Asian in influence, with sake, soy sauce, sesame oil and mirin making up the majority of the braising liquid.  Several months ago we made another recipe for braised short ribs that was closer to a traditional beef stew with the blend of aromatics, herbs, and red wine. Both were delicious but I think Eugene’s recipe wins out slightly because there’s really nothing that beats the combination of soy sauce, garlic, apple juice, and sesame oil (seriously, just read the ingredients for the braise and tell me you don’t want to drink it straight right then and there). But I can leave it up to you to decide for yourself.

Asian-style Braised Short Ribs (adapted from David Chang, according to the recipe)

1 1/2 cups pear or apple juice
1 cup sake
1 cup mirin
1 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
10 cloves crushed garlic
Freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons neutral oil, like corn or grapeseed
4-5 lbs beef short ribs
Coarse salt
2 large onions, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 lb carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
8-12 small or fingerling potatoes, trimmed
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup scallions, chopped

1. Season the ribs liberally with salt and pepper.

2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a saucepan, combine juice, sake, mirin, sugar, soy sauce, both forms of garlic, sesame oil, 20 grinds of pepper, and water. Bring to a boil, then simmer until needed.

3. Put corn or grapeseed oil in a large ovenproof braising pan or skillet over medium-high heat and add the ribs, making sure not to crowd the pan. Brown well on one side. Turn over, add the onions and half of the carrots, and brown the other side, stirring the vegetables occasionally.

4. Carefully pour the braising liquid over the meat until submerged and bake, bone side up, for 3-4 hours or until meat falls from the bones. Remove from the oven and cool ribs in the liquid for about 1 hour, then strain the liquid.

5. Remove the meat from the bones and combine with the strained braising liquid in a pot. Bring to a boil and then simmer until the liquid is reduced.

6. About 1/2 an hour before serving, melt the butter in a skillet and add the potatoes and remaining carrots. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned and almost tender. Add to the meat and serve garnished with scallions.

French-style Braised Short Ribs (from Smitten Kitchen)

6 beef short ribs, 14-16 oz each
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon thyme leaves, and 4 whole sprigs thyme
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
3 dozen pearl onions
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup diced onion
1/3 cup diced carrot
1/3 cup diced celery
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 cups port
2 1/2 cups hearty red wine
6 cups beef or veal stock
4 sprigs flat leaf parsley

1. Season the short ribs well with 1 tablespoon thyme and the ground black pepper, cover, and refrigerate overnight. Allow to come to room temperature (about 1 hour) before cooking.

2. Season the short ribs generously with coarse salt about 30 minutes before cooking and preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

3. Heat a large Dutch oven or oven-proof skillet, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil, and continue heating until pan is almost smoking. Sear the short ribs until nicely browned on the three meaty sides. Remove to a plate to rest.

4. Turn the heat down to medium and add the onion, carrot, celery, thyme sprigs, and bay leaves. Cook until the vegetables just begin to caramelize, about 6-8 minutes. Add balsamic vinegar, port, and red wine, turn the heat up to high, and boil until liquid is reduced by half.

5. Add the beef or veal stock and bring to a boil. Arrange the ribs in the pot bone side up in a single layer. The stock mixture should almost cover the ribs. Tuck the parsley sprigs in and around the ribs and cover tightly with aluminum foil and a lid. Braise in the oven for about 3 hours.

6. Let the ribs rest 10 minutes in the liquid and then transfer to a baking sheet. Turn the oven up to 400 degrees and brown the ribs for 10-15 minutes in the oven. Meanwhile, strain the liquid into a saucepan, skim the fat off the top, and reduce the liquid slightly.

We served both types of ribs with a side of sauteed chard but the first one was served over rice and the second one was served over a potato puree with horseradish cream, but you can substitute whatever starch or vegetable you like.


3 Responses to Braised short ribs two ways

  1. Eugene says:

    Yay! Now I want to cook…

  2. ML says:

    We found the asian style to be much too sweet

  3. says:

    A fascinating discussion is definitely worth comment. I think that you should write more about this topic, it might not be a taboo matter but typically people don’t talk about such topics. To the next! Kind regards!!

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