Dan Barber's Braised Short Ribs

January 25, 2011

Test Kitchen-Approved

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

Ingredients

  • 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
In This Recipe

Directions

  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.

More Great Recipes:
Beef|Carrot|Celery|Rib|Red Wine|Tamarind|Slow Cook|Braise|Hanukkah|Winter|Fall|Entree

Reviews (91) Questions (9)

91 Reviews

Amelia January 10, 2017
Absolutely lovely recipe. Made them tonight for dinner and will definitely be making this again soon.
 
Shiloh G. May 27, 2016
So, after the ribs have braised and you remove them from the sauce it "settles" do you reheat the ribs in the sauce while thickening it on the stovetop?
 
Author Comment
Amanda H. May 31, 2016
If you're serving the ribs and sauce right after you finish the braising, then there's no need to reheat the ribs in the sauce. But if you let them rest (in the fridge) for a day, then I'd reheat the ribs in the sauce while thickening it. Remove the ribs as soon as they're warmed through, then finish cooking the sauce.
 
Lisamacp January 23, 2016
If I am making them the day before, as recommended, when I put the pot in the refrigerator overnight do I store the short ribs separately or in the pot with the liquid?
 
Author Comment
Amanda H. January 23, 2016
I'd store them together.
 
cooking44 January 23, 2016
Fixed this yesterday and substituted Pedro Ximenez Dulce Sherry for the Madeira. Shredded the meat off the bone. Fabulous. Will definitely make again.
 
Demington January 21, 2016
Has anyone tried it with oxtails? What amendments did you make to the original recipe? I am very interested in trying an oxtail something-or-other...
 
Bethany W. January 28, 2015
This was my first short ribs recipe, and it was amazing. I served with goat cheese polenta the first night, and with roasted potatoes the second. It is perfect and flavorful, one of the best dishes I've ever made.
 
Author Comment
Amanda H. January 29, 2015
Happy to hear your first short ribs endeavor worked out so well!
 
Sue October 20, 2014
Variations on this have become my go to recipe for beef stew and I can say it continues to be great. On different occassions have made it with beef shin and with chuck, have replaced the madeira wih applie cider, increased the amount of onions and carrots, etc. And it continues to be just wonderful. Thanks!
 
Sue April 16, 2014
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!
 
Toledo K. March 4, 2014
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.
 
cliff February 19, 2014
can you use a chuck roast instead of short ribs for this recipe<br />
 
William B. February 19, 2014
The best way to make short ribs that will melt in your mouth every time is a pressure cooker.
 
jenny February 16, 2014
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?<br />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
 
Author Comment
Amanda H. February 16, 2014
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!
 
jenny February 18, 2014
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!!
 
Author Comment
Amanda H. February 18, 2014
Great -- good luck, and let me know how they turn out!
 
jenny February 18, 2014
just to be 100% sure, is your oven temp in celsius or fahrenheit?!
 
Author Comment
Amanda H. February 18, 2014
Fahrenheit.
 
jenny March 8, 2014
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!
 
Author Comment
Amanda H. March 8, 2014
Great news! Thanks for letting me know.
 
GPeaslee February 12, 2014
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.
 
hj January 31, 2014
When i take out the ribs, should I also take out the veggies? or is that part of what is reduced? thanks!
 
Author Comment
Amanda H. January 31, 2014
No need to; you can reduce them with the sauce.
 
I_Fortuna January 28, 2014
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.
 
riegelhaupt1 January 26, 2014
can I use Oxtails instead of Ribs?
 
Author Comment
Amanda H. January 26, 2014
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.
 
paula January 6, 2014
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!
 
Author Comment
Amanda H. January 6, 2014
You're welcome -- let me know how it turns out!
 
Laurelb December 6, 2013
When I make this the bones all fall out before serving. Am I using the wrong kind of ribs?
 
Author Comment
Amanda H. December 15, 2013
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.
 
Ipanema G. December 4, 2013
Thank you, Amanda.
 
Ipanema G. December 3, 2013
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?
 
Author Comment
Amanda H. December 3, 2013
I recently made them and left out the tamarind, and they turned out just fine!
 
allison969 January 19, 2014
If you can't find tamarind, a tablespoon or two of lime juice is an OK substitute.<br />
 
Joe C. March 31, 2018
Or u can just use tomato paste, and I like to use equal amounts of chicken stock and beef broth, nice balance,and I really like some dried porcini mushrooms before placing in the oven,for a nice earthy flavor, and I finish with fresh mushrooms cut rather large,and great over some parm.polenta. Serve Proudly !