Beef short ribs, when cooked properly, is serious comfort food. These braised short ribs are seared to seal in the deliciousness of this cut before being slowly simmered in a flavorful liquid of wine and South Louisiana seasonings. It starts by building a flavor base by extracting the natural sugars from onions, carrots, and garlic into the renderings of the short ribs. This one-pot meal is deceptively simple, no-angst, and homey. It will be savored by friends and family.
[Publishers Note: I originally published this article in April 2018. I am publishing this update to provide some clarifications with step-by-step instructions and web-friendly photographs of each step. Let me know what you think.]
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A Perfect South Louisiana Dish
Braised Short Ribs is a prime example of the Cajun thrift and ingenuity. Dating back to the days before refrigeration, many Cajun communities, particularly in the western frontier area of South Louisiana, would pool resources and labor to distribute fresh meats to the community.
This activity, called Boucherie, was not only a perfect way to share scarce resources it was an important element of the social activities of these communities. A Boucherie is generally associated with pork but this same process was also used for beef. Beef Boucheries were generally held during the summer months while pork Boucheries were a winter activity. They both process and distribute everything that the animal has to offer. Lacking the luxury of being particular about which cuts of meats to consume, even tougher cuts, like the short ribs, were distributed. This tough cut from the chuck section fits perfectly into the Cajun kitchen. Cheaper cuts, long, slow cooking time, one-pot methodology, and drawing every ounce of flavor was a standard operating procedure in the Cajun kitchen.
Although Sweet Daddy D’s Braised Short Ribs recipe calls for herbs and ingredients which may be more closely aligned with a Creole kitchen, it’s a legitimate representation of South Louisiana fare. Local, fresh ingredients are prepared by French culinary techniques that provide delicious and memorable meals.
Here’s What You Need
NOTE ON BEEF SHORT RIBS: You may find beef short ribs butchered in two different ways. The one I look for is called English-style and its small chunks of rib meat with one bone. The larger chunk of meat is perfect for a long braise. The other method is a thinner slice across three bones with the meat in between the bones. Both styles can be braised, BBQ’d, or slow-cooked.
Here is some of the equipment I used to prepare this recipe:
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Here’s What You Do
First...you have a beer. Before you start doing any cooking, prep the cook and prep the ingredients. That’s right, this, and every recipe will go a lot better if you are prepared. Pop open a beer and read the recipe all the way through while you drink it. (Don't drink beer? Try vodka or a margarita.) You'll read what ingredients and equipment you’ll need and learn what you will do with each. When you have done that, you are well on your way to a no-angst experience.
Mise en place
What happens in this step. All the ingredients will be prepared and the equipment you need will be put in place. This will allow you to concentrate on the cooking process.
Rinse the ribs under cool water and pat them dry with a paper towel; place them on a platter and sprinkle all sides with kosher salt and ground black pepper. Set them aside while you prepare the remaining ingredients. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Peel the carrots and slice them into 1 to 2" lengths. Peel and quarter lengthwise the yellow onions, but leave the end pieces on. If using pearl onions, peel them but leave them whole (don’t cut off the end pieces and they will stay together). Place both the carrots and onions in the same small bowl and set them aside. Give the garlic a rough chop or simply smash it with your knife blade and set it aside.
Combine the Herb and Spice Blend in a small prep bowl, then measure out all the remaining ingredients into prep bowls and measuring cups.
Sear the short ribs and the vegetables
What happens in this step. Giving the short ribs a good sear on all sides will help seal in the juices and add a level of flavor to the Dutch oven that will help enhance the overall flavor of the braise.
Place a heavy Dutch oven with a lid over medium-high heat.
Add the ribs and allow them to sear on all sides for 3 or 4 minutes or until a crust begins to form. Remove the ribs from the Dutch oven and set them aside.
Add the vegetable oil or bacon grease to the Dutch oven. When it starts to shimmer, add the onions and carrots. Sauté the onions and carrots for about 10 minutes until starting to brown.
Add the garlic to the onions and carrots and saute for about 2 minutes, until you can really smell that wonderful garlic aroma.
Make the braising liquid
What happens in this step. In this next step, we will concoct a flavorful liquid in which the short ribs simmer and the various flavors meld together while the short ribs become extremely tender.
To the Dutch oven add the tomato paste. Stirring constantly, mix the paste with all the vegetables while the tomato paste browns slightly, maybe about 3 minutes.
Next, add the Herb and Spice Blend and the brown sugar. Mix well to combine.
Add the remaining beef stock and wine. Stir together and maintain a low simmer for about 10 minutes while the liquid reduces slightly.
Braise the short ribs
What happens in this step. The short ribs will slowly simmer in the braising liquid until the internal fat and collagen break down leaving the meat juicy and extremely tender.
Add the short ribs back to the Dutch oven, make sure to add in all the juice that accumulated while they rested. Coat each rib well with the sauce.
Cover the Dutch oven and place it in the oven for about 2 hours. Check on them every 30 minutes to make sure that they are not sticking and to baste the ribs with some of the sauce. Add a little more beef stock if it’s reducing too much.
Tip: The ribs are ready when they are ready and that's when they are probe tender and starting to fall apart. The internal temperature should be about 200 to 205 degrees Fahrenheit when checked with an instant-read thermometer. To check the tenderness, use a wooden skewer and probe several places on the ribs until there is very little resistance and the ribs are very tender.
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When the ribs are ready, remove the Dutch oven from the oven and set it off the heat to allow the short ribs to rest covered for about 5 to 10 minutes before serving. Remove the bay leaves and serve!
Tip: To thicken the sauce, remove the ribs from the Dutch oven. Bring the sauce to simmer over medium-high heat and stir in a slurry made from 1 tablespoon of AP flour combined with about 1 to 2 tablespoons of water. Return the sauce to a high simmer for a few minutes while it thickens. If it gets too thick, add some beef stock. Add the ribs back to the pot and coat well.
Hints and Tips (FAQs)
This describes a two-part (dry and wet) cooking method that renders a tough (usually inexpensive) cut of meat into a flavorful and tender dish. This technique can be used on a variety of meat cuts, but with our short ribs, we first sear them over high heat (the dry part), then slowly simmered in braising liquid (the wet part) until they are extremely tender.
Beef short ribs are the first five ribs between the chuck and the rib sections. Beef short ribs are included in the chuck section because the bones are shorter than the back ribs and the meat in between is too tough for steaks. It’s a combination of the flavorful chuck section and the marbled section that give us steaks. Perfect for braising or low and slow cooks. This particular cut is rich and delicious when prepared properly.
Short ribs used to be one of the cheapest cuts available, but the popularity has grown and so has the price. Relative to other cuts, they are still pretty cheap, but not as cheap as they used to be.
When you place the short ribs into the braising liquid, do so with the bone down on the bottom of the pan. The liquid should come up over the bone and almost to the top of the short rib (but leave some of the short rib above the liquid). Make sure to ladle some of the liquid over the short ribs, and baste them more when you look in on them.
I hate to say never, but it is really difficult to overcook these braised short ribs. It is much more likely that you will undercook them and the short ribs will turn out to be tougher than you want. If you braise the short ribs for a long period of time you should watch that you don’t cook out all the liquid or make the ribs so tender that they just shred right off the bone.
Braised Short Ribs will last 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator if stored properly in a shallow dish, wrapped to be airtight. They can also be frozen for 2 to 3 months if sealed in an airtight container. Thaw in the refrigerator overnight and reheat in the braising liquid on top of the stove or in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven until warmed through.
Here's what you can serve with Sweet Daddy D's Braised Short Ribs:
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Yeah You Right!
Braised Short Ribs
Here's What You Need
- 2 ½ pounds beef short ribs
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil see Notes
- 3 whole carrots sliced
- 1 medium yellow onions quartered-see Notes
- 4 cloves garlic rough chop
- 1 ½ cups dry red wine
- 1 cup beef stock
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
Herb and Spice Blend
- 1 tablespoon Creole seasoning
- ½ teaspoon Oregano
- ½ teaspoon Basil
- ¼ teaspoon Thyme
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 2 whole bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt Plus some for the ribs
- 1 teaspoon ground pepper Plus some for the ribs
Here's What You Do
- Rinse the ribs under cold water and pat dry with a paper towel; place on a platter and sprinkle all sides with kosher salt and ground black pepper. Set aside for about 15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Clean and slice the carrots into 1 to 2" lengths; peel and quarter the yellow onions, leave the ends on. Place both in a small bowl and set aside. Rough chop the garlic, measure all other ingredients and mix the Herb and Spice Blend. Place all in separate prep bowls.
- Place a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven with a lid over medium-high heat. See Notes
- Sear the ribs for 3 or 4 minutes on each side until a crust begins to form. Remove the ribs from the Dutch oven and set aside.
- Add the vegetable oil to the Dutch oven. When it starts to shimmer, add the yellow onions and carrots. Sauté the onions and carrots for about 10 minutes or until starting to brown.
- Add the garlic and saute about 2 minutes, until aromatic.
- Add the tomato paste, stirring constantly to brown for about 2 or 3 minutes.
- Add the Herb and Spice Blend and the brown sugar; mix well.
- Deglaze the pan with a little of the beef stock, scraping to get all the fond off the bottom of the Dutch oven and mixing in with the other ingredients.
- Add the remaining beef stock and wine. Increase the heat until it starts to boil, then lower the heat to maintain a heavy simmer. Continue to simmer for about 10 minutes while the flavors meld and the sauce reduces slightly.
- Add the short ribs back to the dutch oven, make sure to add in all the juice that accumulated while they rested. Coat each rib well with the sauce.
- Cover Dutch oven and place it in the 325 degree Fahrenheit oven for 2 to 2 ½ hours. Check on them periodically to make sure that they are not sticking. Baste the ribs with some of the sauce. Add a little more beef stock if you think it's reducing too much.
- The ribs are ready when they are probe tender and starting to fall apart. The internal temperature should be about 205 degrees Fahrenheit. Take a wooden skewer and probe several places on the ribs until there is very little resistance and the ribs are very tender.
- Remove the Dutch oven from the oven and let rest, covered, for about 10 minutes.
- To thicken the sauce, remove ribs to a platter. Make a slurry with 1 tablespoon flour and enough cold water to make a paste. Bring the sauce to a heavy simmer and stir the slurry into the simmering sauce. Reduce heat to a low simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring or whisking until your desired thickness is reached. Return the short ribs to the sauce. If it gets too thick, add some beef stock.
- Remove the bay leaves and serve with mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, cheese grits or rice.