Fall is one of my favorite seasons. There is something really special about the fresh, crisp morning air, and the leaves turning auburn. Along with the changes outside, I notice changes to the foods I crave. I gravitate toward warm and hearty, comfort foods: soups, stews, braised meats, and roasted vegetables. Braised beef short ribs are the quintessential fall dish.
Tender, hearty, falling off the bone; first seared on the stovetop, creating a rich, multidimensional base/sauce, and finished in the oven over low heat for several hours. It is not a difficult dish to prepare, but you do need time. Time for the flavors to come together, and for the magic to happen. This dish is perfect for a Sunday meal, although some could argue that it tastes even better the next day.
Before we dive into how to braise beef short ribs in the oven, let's define braising and take a look at some of the kitchen tools we will need.
What is Braising?
Braising is simply a two-part cooking method. First, it begins with browning or searing at high temperatures, followed by slow cooking the ingredients in liquid, covered, on low heat, usually in a heavy pan, a dutch oven or a slow cooker. Braising is particularly great for tougher cuts of meat. Because the low and slow cooking process helps break down the connective tissue, which greatly increases the flavor.
Essential Kitchen Tools for Braising Beef Short Ribs
Dutch Oven - a heavy, enameled cast iron cooking pot that is really great at conducting and retaining heat. With the tight-fitted lid, this pot truly earns its oven moniker. Dutch ovens perform flawlessly both on the stovetop and inside the oven, making them the perfect tool for braising.
My dutch oven of choice is the Le Creuset oval dutch oven. I have been using this one for over a decade, it's a workhorse.
A more affordable option would be the Lodge enameled cast iron Dutch oven, consistently scoring great reviews among home cooks.
Tongs - the perfect accessory to handle meat in and out of pots without getting burned.
Now that we got the tools out of the way, let’s dive in and make braised short ribs in the dutch oven.
How to Prepare Braised Beef Short Ribs in the Dutch Oven?
Braised beef short ribs can be prepared on the stovetop, in the oven, in a pressure cooker or a slow cooker. This recipe will take you step-by-step on how to braise beef short ribs, starting on the stovetop in a large Dutch oven and ultimately, completing the cooking process in the oven. As a side note, this recipe is easily adapted to a slow cooker.
Ingredients for braising
First, let’s discuss the meat that is used in this recipe. I highly recommend using bone-in beef short ribs, as the bones will add more richness and flavor. But if you must use boneless, simply decrease the cooking time.
In addition, when possible, I prefer to use meat from grass-fed or pasture-raised animals, although this is a matter of personal preference, the end results are not greatly affected.
Aside from the meat, here are other ingredients that will be used:
- garlic cloves
- fresh parsley
- dijon mustard
- dry red or white wine (red preferred - use the wine you would actually drink)
- butter & oil (for browning meat)
- potatoes (optional)
- lemon zest (optional)
The Process for braising
To begin, generously season the short ribs with salt and pepper. For added flavor, also season with fresh thyme and or rosemary.
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees.
On the stovetop, allow the Dutch oven to heat up, over medium-high heat. After the pot is hot (you can do a little test, by flicking drops of water from your fingers to the pot. If the water bounces off and evaporates quickly, it is ready to go - here is a quick video demo), add the oil followed by the butter.
Next, add the short ribs to the pan, one at a time, using tongs. The meat should sizzle when it touches the pot. In order to achieve a nice sear on the meat, don't overcrowd the pan. You might need to work in batches. When one side is nicely browned, turn the meat over and brown the other sides.
After the meat is browned, use tongs to move it to a plate or dish. If necessary, follow with the next batch.
Meanwhile, prep all the vegetables. Wash and scrub the carrots. No need to peel them.
Slice up the carrots. In general, when cutting up the vegetables, keep them equal in size so everything cooks together evenly.
Wash and dry the celery. Trim about 2 inches off the ends and discard. Dice the remaining celery.
Peel and mince garlic.
Also, peel and dice an onion. I would like to point out that the combination of carrots, onions, and celery is called mirepoix. Mirepoix comes from French cuisine, and in simplest terms, is a trio of carrots, onions, and celery and is used as a base in many dishes like stews, soups, and sauces. Along with the mirepoix, I like to add garlic to the mix.
After the short ribs have been browned and moved to a plate, add mirepoix (carrots, onion, celery) and garlic to the hot dutch oven. Use a spatula or a wooden spoon to scrape all the brown pieces from the bottom (flavor bombs, also known as ‘fond’) and combine with the vegetables. Go ahead, savor the delicious aroma!
Cook for a few minutes so the flavors blend and the vegetables soften. Season with thyme and or rosemary for added flavor.
Add a splash of dry wine, mix with a spatula or spoon, cook for 3 to 4 minutes, to burn off the alcohol and reduce the liquid.
Add dijon mustard and stir to combine. Use tongs to return the meat to the pot, including any of the juices that gathered on the plate.
Add stock, or water or a mix of both, just enough to cover the meat ⅔ of the way. Season with salt (if using store-bought stock that has salt in it, adjust as necessary or don't add the extra seasoning).
Add fresh parsley for extra flavor. Bring to a simmer, close with a lid and put the entire Dutch oven pot into the oven, on the middle rack.
Option 1 - Just the braised beef short ribs
To braise just the beef short ribs, cook them for about 3.5 hours and skip to the Finishing Options section.
Option 2 - One-pot meal
However, if you want to make a one-pot meal by adding potatoes and carrots, or other root vegetables, cook for about 2 to 2.5 hours and follow the next steps.
Use oven mitts to remove the pot from the oven. Be careful and don't burn yourself. Learn from my mistakes and don't reach for the pot or lid with bare hands. Don't ask! I am still puzzled about how I could forget that I just took it out of the oven.
Add potatoes and carrots. Just to point out, these carrots are different than the ones used for the mirepoix and making of the sauce. Since these carrots are part of the meal, I like to cut them chunkier. Make sure the potatoes and carrots are submerged in liquid. Close the lid, and return the pot to the oven for about another hour.
Option 1: It smells so good I'm ready to dive in
Remove from the oven and you could plate and serve, sprinkle some fresh herbs and enjoy!
Option 2: Go the extra step
Go even fancier by removing the extra fat, reducing the sauce, and elevating the dish to the next level. We can call this step, going all out!
Let the dutch oven cool off and refrigerate it all. This will help the fat rise for easy removal. When ready to serve, use a spoon to remove the top layer of fat and discard it. Place the dutch oven back on the stovetop and reheat, over medium heat. Use tongs or spoon to remove the potatoes, chunky carrots, and short ribs onto a plate or dish. Turn heat to medium-high and cook down the sauce until it is reduced and thickened, about 7 minutes.
Lastly, make gremolata - an Italian garnish a mixture of lemon zest, fresh garlic, and chopped parsley.
Plate and serve potatoes, carrots, and braised beef short ribs with sauce and garnish with gremolata.
See that wasn't so bad!
What's your favorite way of serving braised short ribs?
Braised Short Ribs - Dutch Oven
- 8 beef short ribs , on the bone
- salt and pepper
- 3 sprigs fresh thyme, optional
- 1 sprig fresh rosemary, optional
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 2 celery, diced
- 4 cloves garlic , minced
- ½ cup wine, red or white dry wine
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- parsley, optional
- stock or water
- 4-5 yellow potatoes (small to medium), cubed
- 2-3 carrots, chopped
- 1 garlic , minced
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- ¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
- Generously season the short ribs with salt and pepper. For added flavor season with thyme and/or rosemary.
- Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F
- In a large Dutch oven, over medium-high heat, heat oil, and butter. Working in batches, sear short ribs on both sides. About 3 minutes on each side or until nicely browned. Transfer short ribs to a plate using tongs.
- Add diced carrots, onion, celery, and garlic to the Dutch oven. Mix with a wooden spoon or spatula picking up all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook for several minutes until the onion softens.
- Add wine, mix with spoon or spatula, cook for 3-4 minutes to burn off the alcohol and reduce the liquid. Add mustard and stir to combine. Using tongs, return the short ribs back into the Dutch oven including all the juices that accumulated. Add enough stock and or water to cover the meat about ⅔ of the way. Season with salt (skip this if using store-bought stock that is already salted). Add a small bunch of fresh parsley for added flavor. Bring to a simmer, cover with a lid and put into the oven, on the middle rack.
- If just making the short ribs cook for about 3.5 hours or until the short ribs are fork-tender and falling off the bone. If making a one-pot meal (with potatoes and carrots) cook for 2 to 2.5 hours and follow the next steps.
- Remove from the oven (make sure to use oven mitts), add potatoes, chopped carrots, gently mix and make sure vegetables are submerged in liquid. Close the lid and return to the oven for another hour. Plate and serve the short ribs with potatoes and carrots, sprinkled with some fresh parsley.
- Or another option (if you have time and want to take it to the next level) is to remove the extra fat and reduce the sauce. Let the pot cool off and refrigerate it (this will help the fat rise for easy removal). When ready to serve, remove and discard the top fat layer with a slotted spoon. Put the dutch oven back on the stovetop over medium heat and reheat. Using tongs, remove potatoes, chunky carrots, and short ribs from the pot into a plate or container. Turn the heat to medium-high and cook down the sauce until it is reduced and thickened, about 7 minutes.
- Plate and serve potatoes, carrots and short ribs with sauce and garnish with gremolata, a mixture of lemon zest, fresh garlic, and chopped parsley.