Zinfandel-Braised Short Ribs

You know when you make something good, like really, really good? Like restaurant-quality good? Lick the plate good? When you dream about it that night and you are counting down the minutes until you can eat the leftovers for lunch the next day? (Or is that just me?)

Well, this recipe is good. Really, really good. And, as we were eating leftovers the next night, I proclaimed this meal the best thing I ever made.  My husband concurred, and he’s been the recipient of many good meals.

In truth, short ribs are my jam. When asked recently what my favorite food is, braised short ribs was my immediate answer. They are kind of the definition of slow food, turning wine, veggies and a tough piece of meat in to a glorious plate of deliciousness with the addition of heat and time.

I’ve made many different versions of short ribs over the past several years, some braised in stout, some braised in soy sauce, but most recipes I’ve made are cooked in red wine, and I believe the wine and beef complement each other in the best way possible. I set out to create a straight-forward, classic recipe that highlighted how beautifully tender and delicious short ribs can become after a long braising bath in red wine and beef stock.

This recipe uses an entire bottle of red wine, and yes, it is worth it. My favorite go-to wine, for both drinking and cooking is Bogle Old Vine Zinfandel. I’ve found it nearly everywhere – BJs, Trader Joe’s, World Market and most regular grocery stores. It goes for about $8-9 a bottle so cheap enough to sacrifice a whole bottle to the greater good of braising. This wine is our all-round favorite wine – so much so that we served it at our wedding! If you can’t find this wine, any Zinfandel or Cabernet Sauvignon will do.

One note about the short ribs I used. I received them though my sponsoring partner, South Mountain Creamery. The ribs were, seriously, the meatiest ribs I’ve ever used (and see above, I’ve made these a lot!). I was very impressed. Previously, I’ve sourced my short ribs from every available source, including warehouse stores, butchers, grocery stores and farmer’s market vendors and have seen the quality and amount of the meat per rib vary widely. But these ribs were super meaty and ended up producing less fat that needed to be skimmed off at the end of the braising so you really are getting the most bang for your buck with these ribs.

Serve these with the super creamy Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes and you will be one beloved host.

Zinfandel-Braised Short Ribs

Serves 6

  • 4 pounds South Mountain Creamery bone-in beef short ribs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 750-ml bottle Zinfandel red wine
  • 6 sprigs thyme
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 5 cloves of garlic, smashed
  • 4 cups low-sodium beef stock
  • 1-2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

Preheat oven to 350°F. Season short ribs all over with salt and pepper. Heat two tablespoons of the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add as many ribs as will fit into the pan (may need to do 2-3 batches) and brown short ribs on all sides, about 3-4 minutes per side. Transfer short ribs to a plate and set aside.

Using the same pot, add the remaining tablespoon of oil and transfer the onions, carrots, and celery to the pot. Stir the vegetables and scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pot and cook until onions are browned, about 7-8 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir until fully incorporated, and cook for about 2 minutes.

Add the flour and stir until well combined and cook until the vegetables turn a darker red, about 2-3 minutes.

Add about 1/2 cup of the wine to start, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot, then pour in the remaining wine, add the herbs and nestle the short ribs in the pot, along with any accumulated juices.

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Bring to a boil then lower the heat to medium and simmer until wine is reduced by half, about 25 minutes.

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Stir in beef stock, then bring to a boil, cover, and transfer to oven.

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Cook until short ribs are tender, 2 1/2 hours. Transfer short ribs to a platter.

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Strain sauce from pot into a fat separator or measuring cup. Either spoon fat from surface or pour off all but the top layer of fat if using a fat separator; discard. Stir in the red wine vinegar and taste the sauce to see if it needs any additional salt or pepper. Serve over Sour Cream Mashed Potatoes.

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