Every recipe I read for braised beef short ribs either called for red wine or a dark beer. I had both on hand with annoyingly low amounts. I had about half a tall bottle of dark spiced ale and maybe 1/3 of a bottle of red wine, leftover from my birthday party. I was expecting somebody over for a full-on cooking battle showdown and wanted to impress (and obviously win) and was dead set on making braised beef short ribs…but which route was I supposed to choose?! Then the genius in me hit: why not use both?! A risky decision, especially for a dish I had never made before, but what could possibly go wrong? I mean, the ingredients were expensive so I didn’t want it to be a waste but sometimes taking risks yield great results, so I ended up making a beautiful red wine and beer-braised beef short ribs - and it was delicious.
I won’t tell you the whole story but I had met someone on Instagram and invited him over for an Iron Chef battle at my place. He came prepared with not one, but two dishes: Russian salad and these to-die-for stuffed mushrooms. I was in charge of the entree - my braised beef short rib. Since I had only the one dish, it had to stand out. The richness from the fatty short rib, the deep flavour from the red wine and dark ale, and the sweetness from the vegetables turned out to be a real winner. A wonderfully silky cauliflower puree was an excellent pairing for the short rib.
Together, we made a dinner that was good enough for about six people - no joke. I didn’t even mention the untouched cheese platter on the table! But the real winner of the evening was the short rib. It was fork-tender and the sauce was incredibly rich. I started this dish a day before and I would say it’s definitely worth it as you can skim the fat off (and save for another use!) and speed up the cooking process if you’re tight on time. This is a dish that if you want to impress someone, you will. And in my case, I ended up with a new boyfriend. Sometimes taking a risk can be a good thing.
RED WINE & BEER BRAISED BEEF SHORT RIBS - serves 4
3 tbsp vegetable oil
2 lbs beef short ribs, cut cross-wise in 2" pieces, about 6 pieces
6 shallots, peeled and kept whole
1 head garlic, smashed and peeled
6 stalks celery, cut into 3” pieces
6 small carrots, peeled and ends trimmed
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1/2 bottle full-bodied red wine
1/2 (750ml) bottle of a dark and/or spiced ale
1 tbsp herbs de provence
2 cups vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
salt + pepper, to taste
Preheat the oven to 350F.
In a Dutch oven oven-proof pot, heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Season the short ribs liberally with salt and pepper and brown on all sides. Transfer the short ribs to a plate and set aside.
Add the shallots, celery, garlic and carrots to the pot and cook until browned. Add in the tomato paste and stir until toasted.
Add in the red wine and beer and stir until the alcohol is cooked off. Add the stock in.
Coat the short rib in the flour and add them back into the Dutch oven.
Add the herbs de Provence and bay leaf and stir until everything is combined. Cover and place in the oven and braise for 2 - 2.5 hours or until the meat is fork-tender. Season with salt and pepper if needed.