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"The Ultimate Guide to Cooking Beef Short Ribs Tips, Tricks, and Recipes"

Updated: May 16

Beef short ribs are a succulent and richly flavored cut of meat that, when cooked properly, provide a deeply satisfying dining experience. The process of cooking beef short ribs involves careful preparation, slow braising, and making a complementary gravy to enhance the dish. This article will guide you through the steps of selecting the best cut, seasoning, searing, braising, and serving beef short ribs, ensuring a mouthwatering result that's perfect for a comforting meal.

Key Takeaways

  • Select high-quality beef short ribs with minimal excess fat, and season them with a simple blend of salt, pepper, and cumin for a rich flavor profile.

  • Sear the short ribs in a hot Dutch oven to develop a deep, caramelized crust, which adds complexity to the dish's flavor.

  • Braise the short ribs in a flavorful liquid made from stout beer and beef stock, along with aromatic herbs like thyme, rosemary, sage, and bay leaves, for at least 3 hours until tender.

  • Create a smooth and velvety gravy by straining the braising liquid and thickening it with a cornstarch slurry, adjusting the seasoning to taste.

  • Serve the tender short ribs with hearty sides such as saffron rice, pearl couscous, or mashed potatoes, and pair with a beverage like Zinfandel wine to complement the robust flavors.

Preparing the Beef Short Ribs

Selecting the Best Cut

Selecting the best cut of beef short ribs is crucial for a tender and flavorful dish. Look for ribs that are well-marbled with fat, as this will ensure they are juicy and rich when cooked. The ribs should have a deep red color, indicating freshness, and the meat should be firm to the touch.

When purchasing short ribs, consider the following:

  • Bone-in vs. Boneless: Bone-in ribs tend to have more flavor and are preferred for braising.

  • Thickness: Aim for ribs that are at least 1.5 inches thick to prevent them from drying out during cooking.

  • Uniformity: Choose ribs that are similar in size and shape for even cooking.

Seasoning the Meat

Proper seasoning is crucial for enhancing the natural flavors of beef short ribs. Generously season the meat all over with salt and pepper, ensuring an even coat that will help to create a delicious crust when seared. A touch of cumin can add a warm, earthy note without overpowering the dish.

Here's a basic guideline for seasoning:

  • Salt: 1 tsp per pound of meat

  • Black pepper: 1/2 tsp per pound of meat

  • Ground cumin: 1/4 tsp per pound of meat

Remember, the key to a flavorful dish is to adjust these seasonings to your taste and the size of the ribs. After seasoning, the ribs are ready to be seared, which will lock in the flavors and add a depth of taste that only browning can achieve.

Searing for Flavor

After seasoning the short ribs with salt, pepper, and your choice of spices, it's time to sear them to perfection. Searing the ribs is a crucial step that should not be overlooked. It creates a rich, caramelized crust that not only adds a depth of flavor but also helps to lock in the juices, ensuring that the ribs remain succulent during the slow cooking process.

Once your dutch oven is hot, add the ribs in batches if necessary, to avoid overcrowding. Each side should be seared until a golden-brown crust forms, which typically takes about 10 minutes. After searing, set the ribs aside as you prepare the braising liquid and aromatics that will infuse the meat with additional flavors during the braising process.

Braising the Short Ribs

Creating the Braising Liquid

The foundation of a succulent braised short rib dish lies in the creation of a rich and flavorful braising liquid. This liquid not only imparts deep flavors into the meat but also transforms into a luscious gravy later on. Begin by combining beef broth with a dry red wine, such as a robust Zinfandel, which adds complexity with its notes of dark fruits and smooth tannins. For a recipe requiring 2 cups of wine, you'll have the bonus of enjoying the remainder with your meal.

Here's a simple guide to creating your braising liquid:

  • Sear the short ribs and set them aside.

  • In the same pot, sauté onions and carrots for a brief period.

  • Add garlic and spices, such as cumin, and cook for a few moments to release their fragrances.

  • Stir in tomato paste and a sweetener like maple syrup to balance the flavors.

  • Deglaze the pot with the wine, scraping up the browned bits for extra flavor.

  • Pour in the beef broth and return the ribs to the pot.

  • Add a bouquet of herbs to infuse the liquid with herbal notes.

Layering Aromatics and Herbs

After searing the beef short ribs to perfection, it's time to build the foundation of flavors that will infuse the meat during the braising process. Start by adding a base of onions and carrots to the pot, cooking them until they begin to soften. Incorporate garlic and cumin, stirring constantly to prevent burning, followed by a dollop of tomato paste for richness and a drizzle of maple syrup for a subtle sweetness.

Next, pour in the beef stock and stout beer, ensuring the ribs are nearly submerged. This liquid will become your braising medium, imparting deep, savory notes to the ribs. To this aromatic bath, add a bouquet garni of thyme, parsley, and bay leaf, tied together for easy removal later. If you're feeling adventurous, slivers of orange peel and chopped dates can be introduced in the last half hour of cooking for an unexpected twist of citrus and sweetness.

Finally, before placing the pot in the oven, make sure to top everything with fresh herbs. These herbs add layers of flavor that will permeate the meat as it slowly cooks to tender perfection.

Oven Braising Technique

Once your short ribs are seared and the braising liquid is ready, it's time to combine everything for the oven braising process. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure a gentle and even cooking environment. Place the short ribs back into the Dutch oven, making sure they are nestled among the aromatics and herbs, and pour the braising liquid over them. The ribs should be mostly submerged to allow for proper braising.

After bringing the liquid to a boil on the stovetop, cover the pot and transfer it to the preheated oven. The short ribs will need to cook undisturbed for approximately 3 hours. It's important to check the meat after 2 hours to gauge tenderness. If the meat is not yet falling off the bone, continue to cook for the remaining time, or until the desired tenderness is achieved.

Making the Gravy

Straining the Broth

After the beef short ribs have been braised to perfection, the next step is to create a rich and flavorful gravy. Strain the broth carefully to remove any solids, ensuring a smooth base for your gravy. This process may remind you of the method described in '3 Ways to Clarify Stock - wikiHow', where stock is strained through a sieve and cheesecloth to achieve clarity and purity.

The strained broth will serve as the foundation for the gravy. Here's a simple breakdown of the ingredients you'll need:

  • 1 cup of the strained short rib broth

  • 1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch

  • 3 tbsp water

Remember to discard the solids, such as the carrots, and keep the flavorful liquid. The next steps will involve creating a cornstarch slurry and incorporating it into the broth to thicken it into a sumptuous gravy.

Thickening with Cornstarch

Once you have your strained short rib broth, it's time to thicken it into a rich gravy. Start by combining 1 1/2 tablespoons of cornstarch with 3 tablespoons of water in a small bowl to create a slurry. Ensure the cornstarch is completely dissolved to avoid lumps in your sauce.

Remember, cornstarch is a powerful thickener and should be used sparingly. Adding too much can dilute the taste of your dish. Here's a simple guide for the gravy preparation:

  • Heat 1 cup of broth in a saucepan over medium heat.

  • Prepare the cornstarch slurry in a separate bowl.

  • Reduce the heat and add the slurry to the saucepan, whisking continuously.

  • Cook for 2 minutes until the gravy reaches the desired consistency.

Adjusting the Seasoning

Once your gravy has reached the desired consistency, the final step is to adjust the seasoning to your taste. This is a crucial part of cooking, as it personalizes the dish to your palate. Start by tasting the gravy and then decide if it needs more salt, pepper, or any other spices that complement beef, such as garlic or cumin.

  • Taste the gravy and assess the need for additional seasoning.

  • Add salt and pepper sparingly; you can always add more, but you can't take it out.

  • Consider the flavors of the aromatics and herbs used in braising; they should be subtle, not overpowering.

Serving Suggestions

Accompaniments to Complement the Ribs

The rich flavors of beef short ribs are best complemented by sides that can absorb the succulent braising liquid and enhance the overall dining experience. Mashed potatoes stand out as a classic choice, offering a creamy texture that pairs perfectly with the tender meat. For a more exotic touch, saffron rice or pearl couscous can add a unique flavor profile to the dish, with the couscous particularly adept at soaking up the beefy juices.

Beyond starches, consider adding a fresh element to the plate. A simple green salad or steamed vegetables can provide a refreshing contrast to the hearty ribs. Here's a quick list of recommended sides:

  • Creamy mashed potatoes

  • Saffron rice

  • Pearl couscous

  • Steamed green beans

  • Roasted root vegetables

Plating and Presentation

Once your beef short ribs are tender and succulent, the final touch is in the presentation. Carefully arrange the ribs on a serving platter, allowing the meat to be the star of the show. Spoon over some of the rich, velvety sauce to glisten atop the ribs, and consider a garnish that complements the dish's flavors, such as a sprinkle of fresh herbs or a zest of orange peel for a fragrant citrus note.

For a truly impressive display, pair the short ribs with sides that offer contrasting textures and colors. A creamy mash or some fluffy saffron rice can serve as a bed for the ribs, while a side of bright, steamed greens adds a pop of color and freshness to the plate.

Pairing with the Perfect Beverage

The perfect beverage can elevate your beef short ribs to a new level of culinary delight. Selecting the right drink to accompany your meal is as crucial as the cooking process itself. A robust red wine, such as a Zinfandel or a Cabernet Sauvignon, complements the rich flavors of the meat. For those who prefer beer, a dark stout like Guinness can add a depth of flavor that harmonizes with the braised ribs.

Here's a quick guide to pairing beverages with your beef short ribs:

  • Red Wine: A full-bodied red wine pairs well with the savory notes of the ribs.

  • Stout Beer: A dark stout can echo the hearty flavors of the dish.

  • Non-Alcoholic: For a non-alcoholic option, consider a rich, dark cola to mimic the complexity of a stout.

Remember, the best pairing is one that suits your personal taste. Experiment with different beverages to find your perfect match.


In conclusion, cooking beef short ribs to tender perfection is an art that rewards patience and attention to detail. By following the steps outlined in this article, from seasoning and searing the ribs to braising them with a rich combination of aromatics, beer, and broth, you can create a deeply flavorful and satisfying dish. Whether you choose to serve them with saffron rice, pearl couscous, or creamy mashed potatoes, these succulent ribs are sure to impress. Remember to skim off any excess fat and strain the broth for a smooth, delectable gravy that perfectly complements the meat. With the irresistible aroma and melt-in-your-mouth texture, beef short ribs prepared this way are not just a meal but an experience to be savored.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the ideal temperature for braising beef short ribs in the oven?

The ideal temperature for braising beef short ribs in the oven is 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

How long should I sear the beef short ribs before braising?

You should sear the beef short ribs for about 10 minutes, until all sides are browned. Make sure to work in batches if they don't all fit in a single layer in the pot.

What ingredients are necessary for making beer braised short ribs?

For beer braised short ribs, you'll need bone-in beef short ribs, salt, pepper, cumin, onion, garlic, carrots, thyme, rosemary, sage, bay leaves, tomato paste, pure maple syrup, beef stock, stout beer, and for the gravy, cornstarch and water.

How long do the short ribs need to braise in the oven?

The short ribs need to braise in the oven for 3 hours until the meat becomes tender. If the meat is not tender after 3 hours, you can continue to cook them for an additional 30 minutes and check again.

Can I make substitutions in the beer braised short ribs recipe?

Yes, substitutions can be made depending on your taste preferences or dietary restrictions. However, it's important to consider how each substitution might affect the overall flavor and texture of the dish.

What are some recommended side dishes to serve with beef short ribs?

Saffron rice, pearl couscous, or mashed potatoes make excellent side dishes for beef short ribs, as they can soak up the beefy braising liquid. You can also complement the ribs with your choice of vegetables or salads.

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