With snow and ice underfoot and the cold wind whistling around our ears, winter is the perfect time for rich, hearty beef short ribs. Our visiting friend Cris Lerose cooked up the ribs in the cast-iron Dutch oven on our wood-burning cookstove.
This meal warmed us up twice — once from heat in the stove and then again from the rich tender beef on our plates.
These ribs were large, about half a pound each, and the meat was well-marbled, so they made their own fat when Cris browned them. If your ribs are a little lean, you can put a small amount of olive oil in the pan to get them started.
He placed the end showing cut bone on the hot surface first to seal in the juices, salted and peppered the other end and then flipped each one over for browning. Once the ends were well browned, he salted and peppered the sides and browned each in turn until they were a rich, dark brown. With thyme and pureed garlic distributed over the ribs, Cris added chicken stock and red wine, clapped the lid on and let the ribs simmer away for a couple hours.
A few mushrooms and small whole onions cooked separately and added later to warm up improved the whole dish, which Cris served with mashed potatoes and carrots sauteed with garlic and simmered in chicken stock until very tender.
What a grand meal.
We grew all the vegetables except for the mushrooms, so carrots, potatoes, small onions and garlic all from our garden joined up with local beef. Every onion harvest yields onions that are too small to peel, and those were the ones we used, dunked in boiling water to loosen the skins, then popped out whole. Perfect.
Then there were fabulous leftovers. There was a rich stock in which the meat was cooked with fragments of leftover beef, mushrooms and onions chopped up in it, leftover carrots added, and some cooked barley to make a soup for lunch.
The ribs made dinner for three with another four or five servings of soup.
I always cook more potatoes than I need because I can use them in a winter hot potato salad, or warmed up in cream or fried as home fries. We mashed every potato we cooked this time, and the leftover mashed potatoes were used a couple days later at suppertime folded into an omelet, and for a lunch heated and topped with an over-easy egg.
Be sure to use your heaviest-bottomed cooking pot for these braised ribs. You definitely don’t want them sticking to the bottom of a pot. You can braise these on top of the stove or in the oven at a low, 275 degrees for the two to three hours needed to achieve tender meat.
Braised Beef Short Ribs
3 pounds of beef short ribs at room temperature
Salt and pepper
2 teaspoons crumbled thyme
2-3 cloves of garlic pureed
½ cup or more red wine
2 cups of chicken stock
12 small onions, peeled and left whole
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1. Sear the bone ends of the ribs over medium high heat in a heavy-duty cooking pot until dark brown, salting and peppering as you go.
2. Sear the sides, salting and peppering the uncooked side, and turning as each side develops a dark, roasted color. Do not crowd in the pot.
3. Distribute crumbled thyme and pureed garlic over the ribs, then pour red wine over them and simmer for a few moments.
4. Add the chicken stock until the ribs are surrounded but not covered in stock.
5. Simmer at a low, steady temperature for about two hours, checking to make sure the ribs do not dry out. Cook until they are fork tender.
6. Saute the mushrooms and brown the onions. Set them aside to add to the ribs for the last 20 minutes before serving.