Braised Short Ribs

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Short ribs were one of those cuts I was never sure how to deal with. As a former vegetarian, sometimes I have difficulty imagining how to prepare anything that comes from a cow and isn’t steak. It’s a weird gap in my knowledge; give me a whole chicken, and I’ll whack the backbone out of it in no time flat. Give me a boneless leg of lamb and I’ll have it smothered in mint persillade and roasting within the hour.

Now that I have this recipe, though, I am no longer confused. Clearly, the destiny of all short ribs is to be braised in a mixture of cider, stock and balsamic vinegar and served with horseradish-laced parsnips. Braising makes the meat so tender, it falls off the bone if you even breathe on it wrong. The horseradish keeps the creamy parsnips and deep, dark braising liquid from becoming too heavy, while complementing the flavors of the cider perfectly.

A few things: the original recipe called for beer, not cider. Beer isn’t Paleo, but hard cider is if you consider alcohol Paleo (some don’t, no judgment here). Using cider also makes this gluten-free, so I thought it was a swap worth making. The parsnips originally called for heavy cream instead of the bone broth — if you’re primal, go for it. You can also switch out the butter for ghee or olive oil.

There’s really no way to mess up this dish, though, if you follow the braising instructions. Serve this with some simply steamed vegetables or a salad, and you’re in business.

Braised Short Ribs
For the ribs
  • 5 pounds bone-in short ribs, separated
  • Kosher salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large red onion
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 2 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar (nothing fancy)
  • 3 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 bottles hard cider (Angry Orchard or similar)
  • 2 to 3 cups bone broth (recipe coming soon!) or beef stock
For the parsnips
  • 2 pounds of parsnips, peeled, sliced into chunks
  • 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp freshly grated horseradish root
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Season short ribs generously on all sides with salt and pepper. Heat a large Dutch oven (I used a stockpot, but a Dutch oven would be better) over high heat. Add enough olive oil to coat the bottom. Add short ribs and brown on all sides, in batches. This can take 10 to 15 minutes, but ensure that you get a nice brown sear on all six sides. Transfer the browned ribs to a plate and repeat with the next batch.
  2. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Once all of the ribs are browned and on the plate, pour off all but 1 Tbsp of the olive oil and fat. Turn heat to medium-high. Add onion, season with salt and pepper, and cook until softened and a little brown (10 mins or so). Add the garlic cloves and saute for three minutes or so. Add the tomato paste and cook for another few minutes or until thickened; add the vinegar, Worcestershire sauce and cider, deglazing the pan as you go.
  3. Return ribs to the pot. Place them with the meatiest side down in the juices (you don’t need to tenderize the bones, after all). You can also stand them with the bones vertical, if you prefer. Add enough broth or stock to just cover the ribs, then bring to a simmer. Turn off heat, cover tightly with foil, then pop the lid on the pan.
  4. Bake for three hours, or until the meat can easily be pierced with a knife and it kind of looks like it might slip off the bone. Remove from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes, uncovered. Skim any fat off of the top.
  5. Meanwhile, about half an hour before the ribs are done, combine parsnips with enough cold water to cover. Place over moderately high heat, cover, and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and cook for 20 to 30 minutes or until tender.
  6. Preheat oven to 420 degrees. Remove ribs from pot and spread out on a large baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes, or until edges begin to crisp. Meanwhile, strain braising liquid into a saucepan and simmer over high heat for 15 minutes until reduced by about a third.
  7. Puree parsnips with butter, bone broth, horseradish, salt and pepper until smooth.
  8. Arrange roasted ribs on a serving plate and drape with about half of the sauce. To serve, generously mound the parsnips on each plate. Arrange a few short ribs (one or two) on the parsnips and drizzle with additional sauce. Enjoy.
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