Until last week, I had never made short ribs at home. I order the silky soft cut as often as possible when I dine out, but braising a batch myself had always seemed out of the question — too time consuming, too intimidating.
It’s hard to say whether a lack of patience or confidence held me back, but something about leaving meat to slow cook continued to intimidate me. Until I stumbled upon Mark Bittman’s braised short rib’s recipe.
Although the recipe calls for a cup of coffee (and god knows I love coffee), the strongest selling point was its simplicity. After four easy steps, I plated tender ribs I had long thought would have to be ordered at a restaurant. Never had I considered how labor-light braising beef could be.
To get a nice, caramelized outer char, Bittman begins by searing off the ribs, insisting that it’s important to “take your time” in making sure the meat is nicely browned before it’s left to braise. No more than a few minutes on each side did the trick, and I then set the browned beauties aside while I quickly sauteed the onions, garlic and chilies. Bittman’s recipe calls for red wine and coffee to be added and reduced, but I also mixed in a couple tablespoons of creme fraiche to thicken the base and impart a bit of creaminess.
After laying the ribs back into the pot, I left them to simmer and slow cook for three hours. The end result was tender beef that easily slid off the bone. The fruity red wine, earthy coffee and creamy creme fraiche came together in a rich sauce I ladled over the top of each rib.
Having now made short ribs, and rather good ones at that, I’m not sure why I was so resistant for so long. Bittman is a bit of a guru at simplifying dishes that can otherwise seem unfriendly and complicated, and his braised short ribs did exactly that. But maybe I shouldn’t act so surprised. He is The Minimalist, after all…
Make Mark Bittman’s Braised Short Ribs tonight.
Tune in to Mark Bittman and all his cooking secrets on The Minimalist, Sundays at 10:30am ET.
From risotto to ceviche, check out all of Bittman’s top recipes.