Why It Works
- A pressure cooker fully tenderizes the beef in a fraction of the time.
- Adding a reduced port wine syrup to the sauce deepens its wine flavor while adding a sweetness that balances the braising liquid's harsh edges.
- A gelatin-rich stock also helps give the finished sauce that ideal lip-sticking viscosity.
This pressure-cooker version of the classic red wine–braised beef short ribs delivers absolutely perfect results, just in less time. The traditional version of this recipe normally requires about three hours to fully tenderize the beef; here we get that part done in about 45 minutes. After that it's all the same: reducing the braising liquids (and also the port wine that gives the sauce its final glossy perfection), thickening them slightly, and serving them as desired. We recommend mashed potatoes, polenta, or some good crusty bread. You could even remove the bones and shred the beef into the finished sauce to create an absolutely killer sauce for fresh tagliatelle or pappardelle pasta.
- 5 pounds (2.3kg) beef short ribs (see note)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon (15ml) vegetable or other neutral oil
- 2 celery ribs (about 3 1/2 ounces; 100g each), cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 2 large carrots (about 8 ounces; 225g each), cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 1 large (14-ounce; 400g) yellow onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 5 medium garlic cloves, smashed
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) tomato paste
- 1 (750ml) bottle dry red wine
- 2 cups (475ml) good-quality brown beef stock, brown chicken stock, white chicken stock, or store-bought chicken stock (see note)
- 1 packet unflavored gelatin, such as Knox (2 1/2 teaspoons; 10g), only if using store-bought stock
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 (750ml) bottle ruby port wine
- Slurry made from 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1 teaspoon water (optional)
Season short ribs all over with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a pressure cooker over medium-high heat (or using the sauté or sear function on an electric multi-cooker) until shimmering. Working in batches, add short ribs and brown on all sides, about 6 minutes per side. Transfer browned short ribs to a platter and repeat with remaining short ribs.
Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat from the pressure cooker. Return to the heat and add celery, carrot, onion, and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until browned, about 6 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and cook for 1 minute longer; lower heat at any point if the contents threaten to burn.
Add red wine, scraping up any browned bits from bottom and sides of pot. Bring to a simmer and cook until raw alcohol smell has mostly cooked off, about 10 minutes. Add stock; if using store-bought stock, place it in a large bowl first and sprinkle all over with gelatin until bloomed, then add to pressure cooker. Make sure the liquid does not go over the pressure cooker's max fill line; if it does, use less stock.
Return short ribs to pressure cooker along with any accumulated juices, nestling them into braising liquids. Add thyme and bay leaves, then set pressure cooker to high pressure; cook for 45 minutes starting from when the cooker reaches high pressure.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, bring port to a very gentle simmer, regulating heat to maintain that simmer. Cook, uncovered, until reduced to a syrup-like consistency and about 1/2 cup (120ml) in volume, about 1 hour. Set aside.
Depressurize pressure cooker and remove lid (we recommend allowing it to depressurize naturally as the fat from the beef can sometimes spray through the vent when allowed to depressurize rapidly, though it is possible to do a rapid depressurization if careful). Carefully remove short ribs from pressure cooker and transfer to a clean platter (they will be very tender, so the bones may slip out; try to hold them together as you transfer them). Tent ribs with foil.
Skim accumulated fat from surface of braising liquid and discard. Strain braising liquid through a fine-mesh strainer set over a large heatproof bowl, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard vegetables and aromatics.
Rinse out pressure cooker, then return strained braising liquid to it. Return to heat and bring to a gentle simmer, adjusting heat to maintain simmer. Simmer, uncovered, until braising liquid is reduced to 2 cups, about 1 hour; skim any foam that accumulates on the surface as needed. Add port wine reduction to braising liquids.
The sauce should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and leave a trail when you drag your finger through it. If it's still a little thin, whisk in the cornstarch slurry and bring to a simmer until thickened slightly.
Season sauce with salt and pepper to taste. Return short ribs to pressure cooker, spooning the sauce all over and around them to glaze while rewarming over gentle heat. Serve.
You can use English-cut or flanken-cut short ribs for this recipe. English-cut short ribs are cut such that one rib bone runs along the length of each portion; flanken-cut ribs slice across the ribs so that each piece has cross-sections of several rib bones in it. If using English-cut short ribs, try to find ones that are about 4 inches each in length. If using flanken-cut, make sure that each slab is about two inches thick (flanken-cut short ribs often come in thinner slabs). You can divide flanken-cut ribs between the bones so that you have more manageable pieces to work with. In all cases, look for well-marbled and short ribs with a nice meaty portion on each (at least 1 1/2 inches of meat above the bones).
A good homemade stock will set like jelly when refrigerated; this natural gelatin helps give the sauce its final consistency; if you don't have good homemade stock, add 1 packet unflavored gelatin per recipe instructions.
Make-Ahead and Storage
The braised beef short ribs can be refrigerated in the finished sauce in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Reheat gently before serving.