Why It Works
- A low oven temperature cooks the beef gently, resulting in more tender and juicy meat.
- 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 recipe is designed to give you the kind of red wine–braised beef short ribs you'd be served at a good restaurant, featuring fork-tender meat that's glazed in a shiny, deeply wine-flavored sauce. The addition of reduced port wine is a critical step, enhancing the sauce's deep wine flavor while balancing out the dry red wine's sharper acidic and tannic edges. Serve these with 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 cloves garlic, smashed
- 2 tablespoons (30ml) tomato paste
- 1 (750ml) bottle dry red wine
- 1 quart (940ml) 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)
Preheat oven to 300°F (150°C). Season short ribs all over with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Working in batches, add short ribs and brown on all sides, about 4 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 Dutch oven. Return to the heat and add celery, carrot, onion, and garlic. Cook, stirring, until browned, about 6 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and cook for 1 minute longer; lower heat at any point if the contents of the pot threaten to burn.
Add dry red wine, scraping up any browned bits from bottom and sides of pot. Bring to a simmer. 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 Dutch oven.
Return short ribs to pot along with any accumulated juices, nestling them into braising liquids. Add thyme and bay leaves, cover partially, then transfer to oven, and cook until beef is fork-tender, 2 to 3 hours.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan, bring port to a very gentle simmer, regulating heat to maintain that simmer. Cook, uncovered, and reduce until syrupy, about 1 hour; should yield about 1/2 cup (120ml) in volume. Set aside.
Carefully remove short ribs from pot 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 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.
Rinse out Dutch oven, then return strained braising liquid to it. Return to heat and bring to a gentle simmer, adjusting heat to maintain simmer. Simmer 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 liquid.
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 Dutch oven, spooning the sauce all over and around them to glaze and rewarm. 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 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 their finished sauce in an airtight container for up to 5 days. Reheat gently before serving.