Red Wine

Red Wine Short Ribs Are Like a Big Cozy Sweater for Your Taste Buds

The best part: They're ready in under an hour.

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December  7, 2019
Photo by Rocky Luten

We've partnered with Cakebread Cellars—a Napa Valley winery renowned for its elegant and food-friendly bottlings—to share Senior Editor Eric Kim's favorite way to spend a winter evening: cozying up with tender short ribs and a glass of their Two Creeks Vineyard Pinot Noir.


When it's cold outside, there are certain dishes I turn to over and over: the cozy squash and guanciale pasta that’s easier to make than a sandwich; the blue cheese burger that makes my taste buds dance; and the wine-braised short ribs that are like curling up in an oversized sweater.

We talk a lot about eating comfort food, but I think there is, as well, great comfort to be found in the cooking of soups and stewed meats that need hours and hours on the stove. I love the ritual of it all: turning off my phone, putting on a record, opening myself a bottle of red wine.

Short ribs are especially comforting to cook because the steps are always the same:

  1. Pat them dry, admire their marbling, then shower them with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  2. Sear them in hot oil, watch that oil darken as the fat from the beef renders out into the pot.
  3. Sauté onions and herbs and whatever else you’ve got in the pantry.
  4. Pour in a healthy glug of red wine (saving most of it to drink alongside the dish, of course).
  5. Live and let cook.

One thing, though, about all-day braises: They take all day. The inactive portion of the short ribs’ cook time is a convenient excuse to putter about the house doing other things, like reading a book, doing the dishes or laundry, or taking a bath. But for days when you want that comfort without having to wait that long, you can turn to the Instant Pot.

This is especially useful when you’re expecting guests. When braised in an electric pressure cooker (note: less time and cleanup) with garlic, chiles, and a splash of lush Pinot Noir, short ribs get effortlessly tender. So tender, in fact, that the bones will slip right out—which is unfortunate because I find them rather beautiful. (I guess that’s the price you pay for succulence.)

My final touch is a crunchy panko and roasted seaweed gremolata sprinkled over top the dish. It sounds fancy, but it’s really just toasted bread crumbs stirred together with crumbled gim, or roasted seaweed snack. A small glug of sesame oil and a pinch of crunchy sea salt brings out the nutty, saline flavors of the nori. This textural and flavor contrast is important when dealing with rich short ribs—you need something to cut through.

I like to serve these ribs with fresh white rice and, of course, a glass of the same bottle of red I cooked with, which brings the whole meal together. Whether you’re at a table with friends or home alone, when there are red wine short ribs involved, you’ll be glad you’ve decided to stay in for the night.

What's your coziest winter recipe? Tell us in the comments below!

Our partner Cakebread Cellars, a green-certified winery whose vineyards are farmed sustainably, has been producing wine in California’s Napa Valley since 1973. The Cakebread family has always believed that wine and food elevate each other, and they make wines that belong at the table. Our go-to pairing this season: fall-off-the-bone short ribs with roasted seaweed gremolata and Cakebread's 2018 Two Creeks Pinot Noir from the Anderson Valley.

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Eric Kim is the Table for One columnist at Food52. Formerly the managing editor at Food Network and a PhD candidate in literature at Columbia University, he is currently working on his first cookbook, to be published by Clarkson Potter in Spring 2022. His favorite writers are William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, and Ernest Hemingway, but his hero is Nigella Lawson. You can find his bylines at Saveur, Bon Appétit, and The New York Times and follow him on Twitter @ericjoonho. Born and raised in Georgia, Eric lives in a tiny shoebox in Manhattan with his dog, Quentin "Q" Compson.

1 Comment

Judy B. December 11, 2019
Suggestions for seaweed substitution?