Beef short-ribs with buttermilk polenta

A dreary Saturday drove a handful of friends to my door last weekend. A bachelor party that was supposed to be in the great outdoors turned into an afternoon cooking the world's tastiest treat: beef short-ribs. 

Guys, I'm not that beef short-ribs are the easiest or fastest thing you'll ever cook, but knowing the skill and understanding the process of slow-cooked, braised meat opens you up to a world of recipes.

So, please just trust me – and I'll talk you through it.

The short-rib recipe below will serve four hungry people.

If you're looking for a vegetable accompaniment, try one of these:

beef-short-ribs-with-polenta

What to know

People throw around the word "braise" a lot, but what does it actually mean? It's a dual-cooking method, aka heat hits the dish in two different ways, that involves a sear on the stove and a stew in the oven. To braise, you'll first sear your protein or vegetables until they gain a nice amount of color; you'll add liquid - typically a stock or broth - over the protein and bring it to a boil on the stove; and, finally, you'll stew the meat in the oven at a low temperature over a long period of time. The lower and slower you cook meat especially, the more tender and fall-off-the-bone that your dish will be. 

Beef short-ribs in pan sauce

What you need

4 beef bone-in short-ribs

1/4 cup all purpose flour

Salt, to taste

Pepper, to taste

2 tbsp olive oil

2 large carrots, diced

1 small onion, diced

1 cup red wine

2 cups beef broth

1/2 bunch parsley, tied into a bundle with one of the parsley stems

How to do it

Preheat oven to 350-degrees F.

Generously season short-ribs with salt and black pepper.

Dust each side of the short-ribs with flour.

In a large oven-safe sautoir (a pan with three-inch sides) or in a tall oven-safe stock pot, heat olive oil. Once the oil is hot – when you flick a drop of water into the pan and it sizzles immediately – add short ribs. Using tongs to turn the short ribs, sear each side over medium-high heat, no more than 45 seconds per side.

Once seared, remove short-ribs from the pan and set aside. 

Add carrots and onions to the pan and turn down heat to medium. Cook vegetables until softened, about 5 minutes.

Add 1 cup of red wine and turn up the heat to high.

After reducing the wine by half, about 5 minutes, add beef stock. 

Once beef stock reaches a boil, lower short-ribs into the pan. Cover pan with a lid and place in the oven. If you don't have a lid for your pan, use foil.

Cook short-ribs for 2 hours at 350-degrees F, then turn down the heat to 325-degrees F and cook for 30-40 more minutes – the meat should be falling off the bone by this point.

Allow the short-ribs to rest in the pan sauce for 20 minutes; make the buttermilk polenta below during this break. 

Before serving, use a metal spoon to scoop off any fat that may have risen to the top of the sauce. Once fat has been drained away, it's time to eat. Serve short-ribs over a generous serving of polenta and spoon a bit of pan sauce over the top of the ribs before digging in.

Leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to a week. For the record, any leftover short-ribs and the corresponding pan sauce are incredible stirred into fresh fettucini with a squeeze of lemon and chopped parsley.

Buttermilk polenta

What you need

1 cup polenta

1 cup buttermilk

2 cups beef stock

2 tbsp cold butter, each tablespoon cut into quarters

How to do it

In a large sauce pan, bring buttermilk and beef stock to a boil over high heat.

Add polenta and reduce stove to medium heat. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon. 

Remove from heat and dot the top of polenta with butter. Allow polenta to sit for 3-5 minutes before stirring in butter with a wooden spoon.

Serve immediately beneath or alongside short-ribs.

As a note, the longer you wait to serve it, the more the polenta will congeal. Leftover polenta can be reheated in the microwave or oven, and are delicious with a tomato sauce over the top.