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Food: The Truth About Short Ribs

November 15, 2010

I am a really bad liar. I wear my emotions on my face, I talk too loudly and gesture too broadly. When I’m attempting to tell a half-truth, my eyes get shifty. I’ve been told I have “no game” when it comes to the opposite sex- coyness and subtlety are not my thing- just another form of a lie. If I do manage to lie, my tell-tale heart keeps me up with worry until I finally come clean.

So you’ll know I’m being truthful when I tell you that the braised short rib meal I just made was phenomenal.

I’ve been wanting to make short ribs for a while, but haven’t had the time to really investigate how to cook them properly. When I finally did a little research I realized it’s not that complicated- there is just a lot of waiting around time. The recipe below, a conglomerate of my short rib studies over the past few days, takes about 3 hours to prepare- it’s best suited for a lazy Sunday or a night when you don’t think you’ll get around to eating until 10pm.

2 1/2 lbs short ribs, bone- in
2-3 oz pancetta
1 small can diced tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup chopped onion
1 carrot
1/2 cup fresh parsley
3 cloves garlic
1 package assorted mushrooms
assorted fresh herbs: fresh rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano, 1 tsp of each
1 bay leaf
2 1/2 cups beef broth
1/2 cup white wine

Start by chopping the pancetta and cooking it in a bit of olive oil until crispy – use a large deep pan for this, you’re going to make the whole thing in here.  Remove pancetta from pan but leave drippings in pan. Then, season your short ribs* on all sides with salt and pepper- I am partial to Borsari seasoning salt. Dredge the ribs in flour and place back in pan on medium heat, browning each side for 5-7 minutes.

*Note: Make sure you use bone in short ribs- the bone will add a lot of flavor to the dish.

As short ribs are browning, put chopped carrot, onion, garlic, and parsley in food processor, blend until minced, then add tomatoes and tomato paste, blend until smooth.  Once short ribs are browned, add wine to pan and deglaze for 1-2 minutes. Then add tomato mixture and pancetta, as well as whatever combination of herbs you’ve decided on, 1 tsp salt, and the beef broth.

Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and let simmer for 1 hour and 30 minutes, occasionally stirring and turning short ribs. If you have parm rind lying around (I know, seriously, I should stop with the parm rind, but it really is excellent for stuff like this), toss it in now.

Cook mushrooms in a small pan with 1 tbsp butter and 1 tbsp flour. Once done, add to short ribs and leave pan uncovered, simmering for another 90 minutes. Taste sauce and add salt and pepper to your liking.

At this point you will have flavorful, tender short ribs that you could just eat as is, or with some mashed potatoes or risotto or whatever you like. Or you could shred the meat, add it back to the pan, cook up some pasta, and toss with sauce. Either way, you are in for delicious.

No lie.


4 Comments leave one →
  1. Ken permalink
    November 16, 2010 7:28 pm

    Short Ribs are one of my favorite meals!!! I first learned to make them for the crew (130 men) of our submarine as a special meal! They were more popular with the crew than steak & even lobster!!!

    I’ll try your receipe & will be pleased to share mine (but you will need 129 guests!

    All the best,


    • bestthingslicedbread permalink*
      November 16, 2010 7:36 pm

      i would love to see your recipe- i hope you like mine!

      • Ken permalink
        November 17, 2010 1:43 am


        I bought a great Chef’s book in 1970 called “The Professional Chef”. It was recommended by Frank’s (your Dad & my NA Classmate) Dad, Chris – he ran several REAL restaurants in Pgh. I’ll see if I can find it. In any case, short ribs, like many things, are under appreciated! I’ll make your recipe!

        All the best, Ken


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