Roast v. Sear Before Short Rib Braise

I've seen different recipes recommend different techniques. I'd like to roast my short ribs...seems easier in terms of prep/clean-up...but what's lost here?

  • Posted by: EG1231
  • November 7, 2014


Susan W. November 7, 2014
I may have just figured out what you are saying. Are you thinking you could just roast the short ribs and skip the braise? No you can't. Short ribs are very tough and need a good sear to create the tasty brown crust and then the low and slow of the braise is what breaks down the fat and collagen to create the buttery tender finished product.
EG1231 November 7, 2014
No, I roasting several ribs on a wire rack on a sheet tray in the oven on high heat before the braise; instead of searing on all sides, etc. (Ina Garten recommends this way in her recipe; others don't.)
Susan W. November 7, 2014
Oh certainly you can do that. I make less of a mess searing them in my dutch oven. My oven is far too hard to clean (stupid apt oven), but I used to sear bones and wings in my oven before making stock. It works great.
ChezHenry November 8, 2014
Roasting bones for stock is great, but the objectives are different here. You dont want to "cook" the ribs, you are looking to sear them quickly, carmelizing them and creating "fond" the browned bits that will flavor the braising liquid. By the time your ribs were carmelized properly in the oven, theyd be cooked, and on their way to tough. Low and slow is the key to breaking down the connective tissue, collagen and fat, a direct heat pan-sear is what you are after.
Susan W. November 8, 2014
Sorry to disagree. 10 minutes in a 450° oven produced perfectly caramelized ribs and I am sure they will be as tender as they would be if I browned them in a dutch oven. I did coat them in beef tallow first. I will report the results when they are done.
ChezHenry November 8, 2014
I love the beef tallow addition. 10 minutes in my oven, even at 450, would not carmelize a thing! Keep me psted, and Ill give it a try the next time myself!
Susan W. November 8, 2014
I seriously get such a better sear when I use beef tallow, pork lard or duck fat. I'm enough of a kitchen nerd to actually have done comparison experiments.

My oven runs 25° hot, so it was actually 475°. I should have snapped a photo.
Susan W. November 8, 2014
Chez Henry, the ribs were fantastic. Meltingly tender. I forgot to add that I preheat the oven to 475, but switch to broiler when I brown the ribs. Gave up coffee a few days ago and lack of caffeine has made my brain scattered. I still prefer browning in the dutch oven that I braise the ribs in. Less clean-up.
ChezHenry November 9, 2014
Thanks Susan, I get it now! Roasting in a 450* oven as you originally stated and putting them under the broiler are very different things. The broiler is an interesting approach, but I am going to stick to my pan searing-even under the broiler you will have to rotate the ribs, and you dont have as much control-its difficult to manipulate and prevent burning. Having worked in professional kitchens where speed and efficiency are key, I've never encountered this as a technique deployed.
Susan W. November 9, 2014
Actually, I learned the technique in a professional kitchen and it is an efficient way to brown a large amount of ribs. 450 in a convection oven and ten minutes later, you have a sheet tray well browned ribs. I added the broiler and flip them once because I have no convection.

I still prefer the stovetop method. Easier to deglaze and easier clean-up.
bigpan November 7, 2014
Always seat first. Period.
Susan W. November 7, 2014
Not sure why roasting is less clean-up. I sear my short ribs in the same dutch oven that I braise them in whether I braise them on my stovetop or in the oven.
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