Beef Short Ribs Braised in Dark Beer with Bacon and Red Onions

Beef Short RibsGet Shorty

On Monday, November announced its presence with authority—some crazy rain, wind and even lightning. My first thought was…”Ooooh, short ribs.” (I know. Just go with it.)

Whenever the weather gets cold, I think of slow-cooked short ribs, my ultimate comfort food. (Though I have a long list of favorites.) My list of recipes I consider for short ribs is appropriately short. There are two.

The first is a classic bistro-style braised recipe that I serve with mashed potatoes. It combines Guinness, red onions and bacon. How can you go wrong with that? Don’t you just feel warm and comforted by the mere thought of that combo? Or am I just weird and hungry? I could die happy in a vat of this stuff.

The second recipe is perfect for mid-week, because it makes use of the crock pot. If you have ever heard the term “Sunday Gravy” used to describe a slow-simmered meat sauce for pasta, this recipe is a great example—except that it uses a crock pot instead of simmering on the stove. This rich sauce that gets even better after a day in the fridge. You can serve this over pasta or with cheesy polenta. Whatever floats your boat…

Either recipe is the answer to the colder weather and the arrival of El Nino.

Beef Short Ribs Braised in Dark Beer with Bacon and Red Onions
Adapted from Bistro Cooking at Home by Gordon Hamersley
Serves 6

For the Ribs
6 to 8 pounds bone-in beef short ribs (English or Flanken style)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Approximately 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 pound bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 medium red onions, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch rounds
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 bottles stout beer, such as Guinness
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
2 cups beef stock or a combination of beef stock and chicken broth

Heat the oven to 350°F.

Trim the excess fat off the ribs and season them on all sides with salt and pepper. In a large, heavy-based, oven proof pot, heat 3 tablespoons vegetable oil until very hot. Working in batches if necessary so as not to crowd the pan, brown the ribs well on all sides, adding more oil if needed. Remove the ribs from the pan. Pour off the rendered fat, but don’t clean the pot.

Add the bacon and cook until most of its fat has rendered, or for about 5 minutes. Add the onions and cook until lightly browned, or for about 6 minutes. Apd the tomato paste and cook, stirring, for another 2 minutes. Add the beer, vinegar, and beef stock.

Put the short ribs back into the pot, and bring the liquid to a boil. Cover the pot and cook the ribs in the oven until they are tender enough to pull apart with a fork, this will take about 2 hours and 15 minutes. (Begin checking for doneness around 2 hours.)

*Take the lid off the pot and continue cooking the ribs for an additional 15 minutes, uncovered.

Transfer the ribs and onions to a rimmed serving plugger or pan very carefully—so as not to break apart the meat. Put them back in the oven with the heat off to keep them warm. Degrease the cooking liquid using a spoon or a bulb baster to suck any fat off the surface. Bring the liquid back to a boil and cook until it is reduced by at least a third.

To Serve
Divide the ribs and onions among six plates. Top with a large spoonful of the mashed potatoes and top with some of the cooking liquid.

*If you want to prepare this dish ahead, stop here. Cool the ribs in their cooking liquid and refrigerate. On the day you plan to serve the dish, remove any cooled fat from the top, reheat the dish in the oven, and continue with the recipe.

Short Ribs and Red Wine Sauce
Adapted from Slow Cooker Revolution by America’s Test Kitchen
Makes 12 cups

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 onions, minced
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 celery rib, minced
1/4 cup tomato paste
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
(28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 (28-ounce) can tomato puree
2 bay leaves
3 pounds boneless beef short ribs (English or Flanken style), trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley

Heat the oil in a twelve-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onions, carrots, celery, tomato paste, and garlic. Cook until vegetables are softened and lightly browned, for about 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the wine, scraping up any browned bits, and simmer until thickened, about 6 minutes. Transfer to slow cooker.

Stir in diced tomatoes, tomato puree, and bay leaves. Season the beef with salt and pepper and nestle into the mixture in the slow cooker. Cover and cook until beef is tender, 9 to 11 hours on low or 5 to 7 hours on high.

Let the sauce settle for 5 minutes. Remove the fat from the surface using large spoon. Discard the bay leaves. Break up the pieces of beef with a spoon. Before serving, stir in the minced parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste.

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