You don't have to be a culinary master to make tender, succulent braised short ribs that will rival those served at a four-star restaurant.
Short ribs are my favorite holiday dinner party dish. They require very little effort, and they're fairly inexpensive and almost impossible to mess up. The 20 to 25 minutes of prep time is done hours before your guests arrive, leaving you free to enjoy your company. Plus, the aroma of the meat braising will make your kitchen smell divine.
As with any great stew, short ribs need to start with serious browning. That deep, dark crust is the foundation for a flavorful sauce. When choosing the wine for the braising liquid, don't feel like you have to use the most expensive red wine you can find. The key is to find an affordable bottle you would enjoy drinking.
Short ribs are very forgiving. The recommended cooking time is 2 hours, but they can be held in a warm oven for an extra hour while waiting on straggling guests. They can even be made a day in advance. To reheat, just warm the short ribs in the sauce on the stove-top or in the oven.
And if the meat falls off the bone, that's OK. When they are done to perfection, short ribs literally fall off their bones.
I like to serve short ribs over a bed of creamy stone-ground grits, but they would also be delicious with mashed potatoes or buttered noodles.
Jennifer Chandler is the author of "Simply Salads" (Thomas Nelson, $24.99) and "Simply Suppers: Easy Comfort Food Your Whole Family Will Love" (Thomas Nelson, $24.99). She is the national spokeswoman for French's Mustards and French's French Fried Onions. She lives in East Memphis with her husband and two daughters.
Braised Short Ribs
6 bone-in, individually cut beef short ribs (about 4 to 6 lbs.)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup diced carrots (about 3 carrots)
1 cup diced yellow onion (about 1 large onion)
1/2 cup thinly sliced celery (about 2 ribs)
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups full-bodied red wine (such as a Syrah or Merlot)
1 can (14.5 oz.) whole tomatoes with juice
1 cup chicken stock
3 sprigs fresh thyme
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
Pat the beef dry with paper towels and generously season with salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium-high heat, warm the oil until a few droplets of water sizzle when carefully sprinkled in the pot. In two batches, so as to not overcrowd the pot, cook the meat until nicely browned on all sides, about 8 minutes per batch. Transfer the meat to a plate.
Drain all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pot. Add the carrots, onion, celery and garlic and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the red wine, tomatoes, chicken stock, thyme and rosemary.
Over high heat, bring the sauce to a boil and return the meat to the pan. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and place in the oven. Cook until the beef is fork-tender, about 2 hours. Remove from the oven.
To serve, place short ribs over warm stone-ground grits or polenta. Spoon the sauce over the top. Serve warm.
-- Source: "Simply Suppers" by Jennifer Chandler