We woke up to more snow this weekend.
It put me in serious cooking mode, so The Angry Chef dug out the car and intrepidly made his way to McKinnon’s, our local butcher shop. He came home with a couple of bags, including a package of gorgeous beef short ribs.
I quickly set about preparing them in one of my favorite cold-weather ways—by braising them in Guinness stout.
After a little initial prep in the kitchen, you cover your pot tightly, and let the ribs happily simmer away—virtually untended—for a few hours. It only has a few ingredients, but it yields some of the most deeply flavored, beef-y broth and meat I’ve ever tasted.
Resist the urge to toss more ingredients in the pot, and you’ll see what I mean. The meat itself is super tender and literally falls off the bone.
Serve with roasted root veggies, buttery mashed potatoes, or fluffy, white rice.
Here’s a peek at the snow, then on to the meat!
A quick primer: So just what is braising, anyway?
Braising is low, slow, delicious business.
Braising transforms tougher, cheaper cuts of meat into meltingly tender dishes. It’s a fabulous way to save a few bucks and still put out a giant, stick-to-your-ribs spread.
Braised meat is seared quickly in fat, then set to cook in a tightly-covered pot over low heat with a little bit of liquid.
Long, slow cooking breaks down the connective tissue in the meat, tenderizing it—and coaxing out rich flavor. This is why stew meat falls apart after long cooking, but is almost impossibly tough if you just give it a quick sear.
What kind of meat is best for braising?
Tough cuts of meat (which are usually on the cheaper side) are the best candidates for braising. For beef, look for roasts labeled “pot roast.”
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but should give you a good idea of what to look for at the market.
Best cuts of beef and veal for braising
+Shanks (veal shanks…hello, osso buco!)
+Chuck or bottom roast
Best cuts of pork for braising
Best cuts of lamb for braising
Best cuts of poultry for braising
+Chicken leg quarters and thighs
What kind of equipment do I need for braising?
All you need to pull off a good braise is a heavy-bottomed pot with a tight fitting lid (to keep your liquids from evaporating).
You can braise meat on top of the stove, or in the oven. Depending on your pot, you can even improvise a good seal with tightly crimped aluminum foil.
I almost always use my 9-quart Le Creuset pot. It’s enameled cast iron, so it retains heat well and distributes it evenly.
Get to the meat, Mouse!
Yep, yep. Here ya go.
The recipe couldn’t be simpler. Just sear the meat on all sides, season it, and let it simmer in a few cans of Guinness for about 3 hours. It’s not fast, but it is very hands off.
Guinness-Braised Short Ribs
2 1/4 lbs lean beef short ribs (about 5 ribs)
1 large onion, chopped
1 rib celery, diced
2 cans Guinness stout
freshly cracked black pepper
1 Tbls. garlic powder
3 fresh bay leaves
Serves about 2 for dinner.
Guinness-Braised Short Ribs: Sear the meat on all sides
Start with lean, meaty short ribs.
Drizzle a little olive oil in the bottom of a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Set the heat to medium-high, and put the short ribs in the pot to brown.
Sprinkle them with a little kosher salt.
When the ribs have developed a handsome brown crust, flip them over with a pair of tongs. Your goal is to sear each side like this.
Guinness-Braised Short Ribs: Add the veggies
When your short ribs are browned on each side, toss in the chopped onion and celery. Give the pot a stir to distribute them.
Guinness-Braised Short Ribs: Add the stout!
Crack open two cans of Guinness and pour them right into the pot.
Give the pot a stir with a wooden spoon, scraping at the bottom to loosen any browned bits.
Guinness-Braised Short Ribs: Toss in the seasonings
Add the bay leaves to the pot.
Add the black pepper and garlic powder. Stir to combine.
Guinness-Braised Short Ribs: Cover and simmer for 3 hours
Raise the heat to high until the liquid comes to a boil.
When it boils, drop the heat to low. Cover your pot tightly.
Check the pot once after maybe 15 minutes. Your goal is to keep the liquid at a low bubble. Lower your heat if the stout is still rapidly boiling.
Guinness-Braised Short Ribs: Serve and enjoy!
After about 3 hours, your short ribs should be meltingly tender and falling off the bone, like this:
Depending on how fatty your ribs are, there may be a thick layer of fat on the surface. Skim this off with a spoon and discard.
For an improv stew, cut the meat into chunks, add a few ladles broth, and toss on a little minced parsley.
Serve and enjoy!