Dan Barber's Braised Short Ribs

January 25, 2011
27 Ratings
  • Serves 4 to 6
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

What You'll Need
  • 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.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Phoebe Tuite
    Phoebe Tuite
  • Melanie
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  • les corry
    les corry
  • Christopher Floyd Noceti
    Christopher Floyd Noceti
Amanda Hesser

Recipe by: Amanda Hesser

Before starting Food52 with Merrill, I was a food writer and editor at the New York Times. I've written several books, including "Cooking for Mr. Latte" and "The Essential New York Times Cookbook." I played myself in "Julie & Julia" -- hope you didn't blink, or you may have missed the scene! I live in Brooklyn with my husband, Tad, and twins, Walker and Addison.

130 Reviews

Jen S. February 10, 2024
Great cold weather recipe. Instead of wine, we substitute with Funkwerks Oud Bruin and it's pretty tasty.
Amanda H. February 10, 2024
Sounds like a good variation!
Erin January 23, 2024
I've made this multiple times and it is one of the best things I've ever eaten. Makes me feel like a good cook (which I'm normally not!) I split the cooking into 2 days as Amanda recommends, so I can skim the fat. I also think it goes best with a cheesy polenta. (Mmm...I need to make it again soon!)
Phoebe T. March 3, 2023
This may be one of the best dinner recipes we ever had.
Followed directions but made a day ahead so I could skim the fat and, as suggested by one reviewer, I increased the sauce ingredients.
I may now add tamarind concentrate to any soup or stew recipe.
Amanda H. March 5, 2023
So great to hear you liked the recipe -- and sounds like making it a day ahead is the way to go. Flavor is probably more settled then as well.
Melanie February 13, 2023
Made these per the recipe for early Valentine's dinner to serve with buttery mashed potatoes and garlicky broccolini. So, so good! I started early in the day, separated the meat from the broth to cool the broth to room temp, then stuck in the freezer for just one hour and easily removed the hardened fat on top of the broth. Added a tad bit more salt upon completion. So easy! After that, reduced broth and added meat back in to briefly heat. Highly recommend this recipe!!
Tamara January 26, 2023
This is an absolutely delicious meal. Short ribs from Sam’s worked beautifully. Couldn’t find Madeira locally so just increased the red wine. Still delicious. It was perfect with my Col. Pabst malted Worcestershire sauce. Will give a try again soon with the Madeira.
Gray F. January 18, 2023
This would be a slam dunk for Sous Vide - 140°F for 48 hrs. Prolly skip the chicken stock all together and reduce the red wine and madeira separately before assembling everything in the pouch. Brown the ribs before assembly.

Other additions to consider are dried porcini mushroom powder, marmite and the darkest miso you can find (I generally use Hacho Miso), in some combination.

When done, degrease the juice and reduce, if necessary.


les C. January 18, 2023
I get the same results as sous vide when braising low and slow at 225 in the oven,plus it makes the house smell amazing and there is no need to sear after sous vide.I have owned a immersion circulator for many years.
[email protected] January 18, 2023
On Day 2 - Do the ribs stay in the pot the entire time the sauce is being reduced, or do you add them for the last 30-60 minutes?
Teresa January 18, 2023
Any ideas on subbing for tamarind? Couple of years ago I had similar and fabulous using prunes. We were at winery in Tuscany and obviously a very old well loved prep …are you familiar?
JS January 18, 2023
Hi, Amanda! I'm late to the party, but would love to make this! Do you have any suggestions for a non-alcoholic substitute for madeira? Thanks in advance.
les C. January 18, 2023
I suggest balsamic vinegar.
JS January 18, 2023
Thanks, les C!
Amanda H. January 18, 2023
Or pomegranate juice
les C. January 18, 2023
Sure no problem at all,you may also consider sherry vinegar which probably has similar flavor profile as madeira
JS January 18, 2023
Thanks, Amanda! I have been using a combination of beef broth and pomegranate juice instead of red wine - I'm not as familiar with madeira.
les C. January 18, 2023
Would love to make this dish but the price of short ribs here in norcal is $9.99-$12.99 lb. depending on what type of beef and grade.So 5lbs. of ribs si going to be pricey,maybe I`ll just use chuck instead.Our Costco sells prime grade chuck currently @ $7.99 lb.
Rhonda35 January 18, 2023
I've used chuck in the past - turns out great!
kmforster November 21, 2022
Made exactly as written - absolutely stunning. No "twists," no unexpected flavors - just wonderful, savory-yet-lively sauce and meltingly tender short ribs. For anyone concerned about ingredients like brown sugar, tamarind paste or Madeira: Don't be. It all melds together into a delicious sauce that does not taste sweet or fruity at all. Five stars all the way. This is my new go-to for short ribs. Thank you for posting the recipe!
Jenna M. December 20, 2021
This is the best thing I’ve ever cooked. Absolutely delicious! Thanks for such a great recipe. They’re so good that they are making their way into Christmas dinner this year as the main dish.
salena November 30, 2021
Beyond good. I made this with bison short ribs. The flavors were superb. Added more wine and served it over egg noodles. Amazing gravy and amazing dinner.
Christopher F. January 15, 2021
Quick question as I’m excited to try this recipe, what’s the fruit garnish on top?
Amanda H. January 15, 2021
That’s just onions and carrots from the braising liquid.
Christopher F. January 18, 2021
HA! Now I see it, thank you! Making them now, I will let you know how they turn out. : )
aclincol December 25, 2020
I just made this and it turned out beautifully! Cheers!
Amanda H. December 26, 2020
Thrilled to hear this!
acegal August 13, 2020
Nice, but I'd double or triple the tamarind concentrate and add more worcestershire as well. Needs more tang.
JKF I. February 20, 2020
Amanda, have you adapted this recipe for Instant Pots?
BTW, I'm a longstanding fan. Your article about bringing a delicious meal aboard airplanes has become our default--usually prosciutto, olives, some good bread and a clementine. (We live near Murrays. :-))
Amanda H. February 20, 2020
I haven't tried it in an Instant Pot, though I'm sure it could be adapted easily. Thank you so much for your note and for remembering that article from so long ago! I still bring good food on planes and am thankfully a less anxious traveler now. Your plane menu sounds great.
Eric M. January 18, 2020
Thank you for an amazing recipe. I've been experimenting with short ribs over the last few months and the experiment is OVER! These were the best braised short ribs Ive ever made. The suggestion to braise a day ahead and serve the next day was spot on. I used a 5qt Staub cocette and followed the recipe pretty closely, used about 3 cups of stock to cover the ribs. in the oven for 5 hours... perfection. the liquid reduced in about an hour and a half... thanks again so much!
Amanda H. January 19, 2020
Thanks for sharing your experience with the recipe, and so happy you like it!
beth December 26, 2019
Made this for Christmas Dinner. Followed the recipe as written. prep and cooked day before makes skimming fat the easiest. Reduced braising liquid for one hour, retuned meat to reheat. Served with mashed potatoes and roasted brussel sprouts. Many requested copies of the recipe. Thank you for sharing this was a wonderful and memorable meal. I will be making this again.
Jessica December 27, 2018
This recipe is great! I've made it about 10 times. I think it is really important to make it the day before you plan to eat it because it takes about 5-6 hours for prep, browning the meat, and braising it, and then cooling it enough to go in the fridge. Then the next day, after scraping off the fat, it has taken up to 3 hours to reduce the braising liquid. I have served it mostly with brown buttered egg noodles or hasselback potatoes (the Kenji Lopez-Alt recipe).
Amanda H. December 29, 2018
Very good points and thanks for the serving suggestion!
Amanda H. December 29, 2018
This is a great point -- thanks for the serving suggestion!
Jessica December 30, 2018
Thanks! :)