- 4 pounds beef short ribs
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 cups red wine
- 2 cups beef or chicken stock
- A few sprigs of thyme and rosemary
- Season and Sear the Ribs: Season the short ribs with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the ribs and sear until browned on all sides. Remove ribs and set aside.
- Searing: This process develops flavor through the Maillard reaction, where high heat causes the proteins and sugars in the meat to react and form complex flavors and a brown crust.
- Cook the Vegetables: Reduce heat to medium. Add onion, carrots, and celery to the pot and cook until softened. Stir in garlic and cook for another minute.
- Sweating Vegetables: Releases moisture and softens the vegetables, allowing them to absorb and meld flavors.
- Deglaze with Wine and Tomato Paste: Add tomato paste and cook for a minute. Pour in the wine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pot.
- Deglazing: The alcohol in the wine helps to lift the caramelized bits (fond) from the bottom of the pot, incorporating them into the sauce for extra flavor.
- Braise the Ribs: Return the ribs to the pot. Add stock and herbs. Bring to a simmer, then cover and transfer to a preheated 325°F (163°C) oven. Braise until the meat is very tender, about 2.5 to 3 hours.
- Braising: A slow, wet cooking method that tenderizes the meat by breaking down collagen into gelatin at low temperatures, enriching the sauce’s body and flavor.
- Rest and Serve: Remove from oven and let rest for a few minutes. Skim off any excess fat. Serve the ribs with the sauce and vegetables.
- Resting: Allows the meat to reabsorb some of the juices, making it more tender and flavorful.
- Maillard Reaction: Searing the meat at a high temperature causes the Maillard reaction, creating a rich brown crust and deep flavors.
- Collagen to Gelatin Transformation: Long, slow cooking breaks down collagen, a tough protein in the connective tissues, into gelatin, which adds a rich, silky texture to the sauce.
- Alcohol in Cooking: The wine not only adds acidity and depth of flavor but also helps dissolve the fond, enriching the sauce.
- Slow Cooking: Cooking at a low temperature for an extended period allows the tough fibers in the meat to break down, resulting in tender, flavorful meat.
This braised short ribs recipe exemplifies the art of transforming a tough cut of meat into a tender, flavorful dish through the magic of slow cooking. Each step, from searing to braising, plays a critical role in developing depth and complexity of flavor, showcasing the fascinating science behind traditional cooking techniques.