You Won’t Believe The Secret Ingredient For These Succulent Short Ribs

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One thing I love about this cold weather is the opportunity prepare slow-cooked meals, preferably slow braised short ribs. But my number one complaint when it comes to short ribs is that they don’t come out with a perfect gravy after a long braise. The braising liquid remains just that – liquid. I want gravy!

I have found the secret ingredient that will turn your embarrassing watery ribs into tender braised ribs in a deep, succulent gravy, and you are not going to believe what it is.

Also, these ribs can be made in one afternoon and you are going to lose your mind when you see how simple this new technique is!

Braising simply means to cook the meat in the oven at a moderate temperature, usually after searing it, in a small amount of liquid-about enough to halfway cover the meat- with the pot’s lid on snugly. The liquid is usually a stock or broth, often fortified with red wine or port, enhanced by a mirepoix. This braising liquid is poured over the meat, the pot is covered and returned to the oven to braise for a couple of hours.

Typically when you are braising beef short ribs you are looking for either the English cut, which consists of a single rib about 5 or 6 inches long, or flanken –style, where the meat is cut across the ribs and your piece of meat contains 2 or 3 oval bones. There are other rib cuts too, but these two are the best for braising. There is a fair amount of fat in short ribs, most of it released after searing the meat and the subsequent hours of braising. Left in the sauce, it would make the dish too fatty, so for generations good cooks have practiced the classic way of removing the fat; after searing and braising, refrigerate the whole shebang overnight. The fat will rise to the top and harden and the next day you can remove it easily. But that method requires two days.

I don’t want to be making ribs for two days – that’s insane!

 

Flanken-style ribs after 2 hours of roasting

Flanken-style ribs after 2 hours of roasting

There is another, better way to remove all or most of the fat that allows you to prepare braised short ribs from start to finish in one afternoon, and also lets you skip the searing process. With much thanks to the brilliant nerds at Cook’s Illustrated, here is my own take on their recipe for short ribs.

Simply roast them for a couple of hours. Just season the ribs with salt and pepper, place them in a roasting pan, or Dutch oven, cover with its lid or with aluminum foil and roast at 375 F for a couple of hours. The ribs come out beautifully; moist and well-browned, and 4 or 5 pounds of ribs will render as much as a cup of fat, which you can easily collect and save.

 

Tapioca is a great, gluten-free thickener

Tapioca is a great, gluten-free thickener

Then continue with your recipe. Make the braising liquid, pour it over your lovely, browned ribs, cover with the lid and put it all back in the oven.

Now here is when things get a little crazy – but stay with me folks. I swear it is going to be worth it.

When we make these ribs we like to add tapioca starch to the braising liquid. It sounds crazy but it works every time.

Simply roast your ribs, no more searing! Then braise in tapioca-spiked liquid for another two hours, The meat will be falling-off-the-bone-tender and your sauce will be richly developed and slightly thickened, a beautiful, glistening deep brown, ready to serve with mashed spuds and vegetables like braised Swiss Chard and carrots.

Finally a use for that tapioca starch that has been in the cupboard since the dawn of time!

Braised Short Ribs

Serves 4

4-5 lbs short ribs

1 onion

2 carrots

2 ribs of celery

3 garlic cloves, minced.

2 tablespoons tomato paste

3 ½ cups beef stock

1 cup red wine

1 Tbsp honey

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

4 Tbsp instant tapioca or tapioca starch

3 bay leaves

salt and pepper

 

Pre heat oven to 375 F.

~Season the ribs with salt and pepper, place in a roasting pan or Dutch Oven and roast, covered, for two hours. Remove from oven and drain the fat, reserving. Remove ribs from pan and set aside.

~ Chop the onion, carrot and celery. Place Dutch oven on stove top and sauté mirepoix in 2 tablespoons of the beef fat for a few minutes. Stir in the garlic and tomato paste and continue to cook about a minute longer. Add the stock, wine, vinegar, honey, tapioca and bay leaves, bringing it to a simmer.

~ Reduce oven temperature to 300 F. Gently add the ribs back to the pot. Cover the pot and place back in oven. Braise for another 2 hours.

~ Remove from oven. Here you can opt to leave everything in the pot and serve it stew style, or remove the ribs and set them on a plate. You could also strain the liquid and serve it in a gravy boat with the ribs and veggies.

 

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