Dan Barber's Braised Short Ribs

By • January 25, 2011 • 80 Comments

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Author Notes: One evening, not long after I was married, my husband Tad and I hosted a dinner party at our apartment. I pulled one of my usual tricks back then, which was to cook five entirely new dishes rather than hedge my bets with a few known winners. This approach to a dinner party has guaranteed results, but not of the sort you wish for. You end up flubbing at least 40% of the menu. You sit with a furrowed brow throughout the meal. You nearly end your marriage before the guests arrive. And if you do this repeatedly, you are sure to live a shorter life.

This time, on top of my novelty menu “strategy,” I layered another fatal tactic: I invited a chef to the dinner. Dan Barber, an owner of Blue Hill at Stone Barns, wrote for me at the Times, and since I knew that chefs’ biggest complaint was that no one ever cooked for them, I thought it would be a good idea to have him over for a dinner party.

The day of the party, I thought I’d “wing” making short ribs, which I’d never cooked before. For reasons I will never understand, I floured the short ribs before browning them, which later created a horridly gooey coating once they were braising. I also failed to add enough liquid to the braising pan and did not allow enough time for the meat to get tender.

By the time the guests arrived, I looked like a nervous and harried rabbit, dashing around my kitchen, awaiting the next disaster. Unsure if dinner would ever be ready, I pulled Dan aside and confessed.

Dan hopped into the kitchen, waved his skilled hand over the short ribs -- at least, that’s how I remember it -- and managed to make them edible.

A few weeks later, I asked him if he’d teach me how to properly braise a short rib. I spent a morning with him in Blue Hill’s kitchen on Washington Place.

Now I know how to braise. But I’m not sure Dan will ever come to one of my parties again.
Amanda Hesser

Serves 4 to 6

  • 5 pounds beef short ribs, bone on
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper (I like a coarse grind)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1 celery rib, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, skin left on
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon tamarind concentrate (comes in a jar; slightly thicker than ketchup) or paste (comes in a block)
  • 2 fresh (or dry) bay leaves
  • 1/2 cup Madeira
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 2 to 3 cups chicken broth
  1. Heat the oven to 225 degrees. Season the short ribs with salt and pepper. Heat a large heavy Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the oil, then the short ribs (add them in batches, if necessary) and brown on all sides. Transfer the ribs to a plate as they finish browning. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat.
  2. Add the onion, carrot, celery, and garlic to the pot, reduce the heat to medium, and cook until the vegetables are soft and all the browned bits in the base of the pot have been loosened. Put the short ribs (and any juices that have collected on the plate) back in the pot.
  3. Add the light brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, tamarind paste, and bay leaves. Pour in the Madeira and red wine. Add enough chicken broth to just cover the ribs. Bring the liquid to a boil, then cover the pot and transfer to the oven.
  4. Braise the shortribs until they are very tender when pierced with a fork, about 4 hours (longer if the short ribs are big). Using a slotted spoon, transfer the shortribs to a plate. Let the cooking liquid settle; spoon off as much fat as possible (ideally, you'd do this over the course of two days and would, at this point, put the liquid in the fridge overnight and peel off the layer of fat in the morning). Set the pot on the stove over medium high heat. Bring the cooking liquid to a boil and reduce to a syrupy consistency.
  5. Lay a short rib or two in each of 4 wide shallow bowls. Spoon over a little sauce. Serve proudly.
Jump to Comments (80)

Tags: Beef, short ribs

Comments (80) Questions (8)

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5 months ago Sue

Just made these and they were fantastic. My shortribs were quite large and so took closer to 5.5 hours to get really tender and the sauce took a long time to thicken down, but otherwise, this is a recipe to make again and again. The flavors were perfectly balanced between sweet and savory and rich. Thanks!

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7 months ago Toledo KB

Just made these this weekend. They were delicious and very tender. One of my diners must have said 5 times, "this meat is so tender." This will go in my "tried and true" file.

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7 months ago cliff

can you use a chuck roast instead of short ribs for this recipe

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7 months ago William Bernard

The best way to make short ribs that will melt in your mouth every time is a pressure cooker.

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7 months ago jenny

I made this last weekend for 10 guests, and it was fairy successful! They were very tasty, but perhaps could have been more tender. Am going to give it another shot for another party, and wanted some more advice - I don't have a dutch oven, so after pan frying I put all the ribs and veg/wine in a shallow baking tray covered with foil. The braising liquid came about 2/3 of the way over the ribs... is it important that the ribs are totally submerged?
Second question is that my ribs seemed cooked after 2 hours at 200 degrees f. I was worried about cooking longer incase they disintegrated. Would it have been better to keep going? Many thanks for anyone who can respond with advice and suggestions! Jenny

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

7 months ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Hi Jenny! It sounds like they needed more time to loosen up -- the way to tell the ribs are done is to insert a fork into the beef, and it should show no resistance. Sometimes when I make this, the bones do fall out, but I don't mind. I just serve it without the bones then. As far as the liquid goes, ideally they would be submerged but having the amount of cooking liquid you describe should have been fine. I think it's more about the cooking time. Also did you cook them a day in advance? I find that's helpful -- the flavors and textures seem to improve the next day. Thanks for trying out the recipe, and I hope they turn out better next time!

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7 months ago jenny

Thanks for replying! I didn't have the time to cook the day before the dinner, but this week I def will. And I'll leave them in the oven for much longer this time. Thanks again for your feedback!!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

7 months ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Great -- good luck, and let me know how they turn out!

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7 months ago jenny

just to be 100% sure, is your oven temp in celsius or fahrenheit?!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

7 months ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Fahrenheit.

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6 months ago jenny

I gave the recipe another shot, and this time it worked so much better - a combination of getting them better 'prepped' by the butcher, and longer cooking time. Excellent recipe!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

6 months ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Great news! Thanks for letting me know.

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7 months ago GPeaslee

This was fantastic, even without the tamarind and Madeira and with me eyeballing the measurements. I was inattentive and let the sauce reduce so long that the sugars from the wine caramelized, which, once I'd thinned it with extra chicken stock, turned out to be a delicious mistake.

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8 months ago hj

When i take out the ribs, should I also take out the veggies? or is that part of what is reduced? thanks!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

8 months ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

No need to; you can reduce them with the sauce.

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8 months ago I_Fortuna

I love short ribs but I have a hard time finding them in this small town. I usually make mine this way using a pressure cooker. I chop up a large onion and saute it fairly well, brown the ribs and cover them with cream sherry. You won't believe the sauce that is created this simple way. Your recipe is great and if I have a chance to find the ingredients online I would like to try your method. I bet it is terrific.

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8 months ago riegelhaupt1

can I use Oxtails instead of Ribs?

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

8 months ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

I've never done it with oxtails but I don't see why not -- it sounds good. Oxtails are underrated! The cooking time may change slightly so just test them more often.

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8 months ago paula

I found myself nodding yes, yes, yes to your intro. I've been looking for a (new, untested of course!) recipe for a dinner party on Sunday. A dinner party also featuring a chef. Thanks for the great find!

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

8 months ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

You're welcome -- let me know how it turns out!

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10 months ago Laurelb

When I make this the bones all fall out before serving. Am I using the wrong kind of ribs?

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

9 months ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

That sometimes happens when I make it as well. I find that when I used smaller short ribs it happens less, but that's just an observation. I just pull out the bones and serve it without.

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10 months ago Ipanema Girl

Thank you, Amanda.

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10 months ago Ipanema Girl

Want to make these this week so don't have time to order tamarind on line (we live in a remote area without close access to a store that would carry it). Can another spice be substituted or would leaving it out ruin it?

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

10 months ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

I recently made them and left out the tamarind, and they turned out just fine!

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8 months ago allison969

If you can't find tamarind, a tablespoon or two of lime juice is an OK substitute.

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over 1 year ago ichabod

Folks, did you use short ribs that were English cut or flanken? When I make short ribs, I normally use flanken. However, this picture looks like the English cut was used.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Pretty sure they were English cut. I think of flanken as a lot thinner.

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9 months ago JohnL

For some reason I've never cared for flanken cut beef ribs, just seems like they're all bone. But for some reason I love the flanken style pork ribs I get at my Asian market. I cut them apart into little individual bitesize riblets and I make either Chinese spicy ribs with cumin hot peppers szechuan peppercorn and cilantro, or I do my old standby, Irene Kuo's 1-2-3-4-5 Spareribs. Its old school Chinese, but I still love it. I think I'll post that recipe on the site. It hits the spot when I'm craving sweet & sour.

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over 1 year ago MaryDD

"You end up flubbing at least 40% of the menu. You sit with a furrowed brow throughout the meal. You nearly end your marriage before the guests arrive"
When I read this I laughed out loud because that is exactly what I have done a number of times and if my husband read this he would know exactly what you're talking about as well! He has to put up with my hysteria even though I only have myself to blame. Glad I'm not the only one, thank you.

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over 1 year ago phyllis

I cooked these Friday night for dinner last night (Saturday). I made sure the short ribs were well trimmed, and when I finished cooking them, I separated the liquid from the meat and refrigerated overnight. I was able to easily skim off the fat before reheating. I also strained out the vegetables and onions before boiling down. My sauce never became syrupy but the flavors were fused and with mashed potatoes and a salad, it was a delicious meal. Thanks so much for sharing both your story and your recipe, Amanda.

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over 1 year ago The Fiery Epicurean

What is Madeira?

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over 1 year ago htan

made these for christmas - they were delicious! I bought my short ribs from Whole Foods. The only negative comment is that they were REALLY fatty. I don't know if it was just the particular ribs I got but I even braised them the day before and skinned the fat but there was still a lot of fat on the rib itself. Like enough where you can see and taste it. Trust me, I'm all for fatty goodness but it was a little too much. Maybe I should have braised longer, but after 4 hours they were already falling off the bone. Must have been a fatty cow.

Tad_and_amanda_in_the_kitchen

over 1 year ago Amanda Hesser

Amanda is a co-founder of Food52.

Not sure what to recommend other than trimming them more next time. Glad you did the day 2 skimming.

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9 months ago JohnL

Sometimes, when I'm in the mood to fuss over beef short ribs, I chill them overnight. Then I roll up my sleeves and pull out the bones and trim away all the gristle and fat. Then you can enjoy perfect little morsels of short rib heaven. I like a little bit of that short rib fat, but I know sometimes it can be too much.

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almost 2 years ago Foodelf

Great recipe with an interesting twist ... I would never have thought of adding tamarind! Today I made some pasties with some of the leftover bounty - so savoury and delicious.

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almost 2 years ago Laurelb

Wow. Loved these. Company worthy for sure. Served with roasted root veg and that's all you really need with this.