Melt-in-your-mouth, fall-off-the-bone, rich and delicious, these short ribs will warm the coldest winter night. Braised with Cabernet Franc and parsnips, the gravy develops a rich flavour with a subtle peppery depth. Even better the next day, this is a perfect make-ahead meal elegant enough to serve at a dinner party, yet equally suited to a casual family dinner.
To begin, the short-ribs need to be cut parallel to the bone, also known as “English style”, so that there is one bone per piece. Avoid flanken “Korean style” cut ribs for this recipe, as the meat is cut much thinner and wouldn’t work as well with the long braising time. Below are the ribs straight from the butcher, I had them cut the ribs which were originally closer to 5″ long in half, into more manageable 2.5″ pieces as shown below. All together I had about 6 lbs of meaty ribs—this is pretty much the max amount my generous dutch oven would hold.
You can see from the photo below that the meat is well-marbled with fat. The braising process slowly and gently cooks this fat so that it renders down leaving silky soft meat that falls right off the bone. I highly recommend making this a day in advance so that you can easily remove all the fat from the gravy—when you chill the broth in the fridge all the fat floats to the top and hardens so that you can just lift it out in a large piece. The remaining broth will be wonderfully enhanced by natural collagens from the bones giving your gravy natural body and thickness.
To build the flavour profile of your braise, it is critical to get a good sear on the ribs. I had to do mine in two batches to avoid overcrowding. Go with high heat and make sure they sizzle when they hit the pot. You want a deep brown colour on the seared areas, and also look for some browned bits of meat to begin to stick to the bottom of the pot—you’ll scrape up all those bits later and they form the flavour base for your broth.
Once all the ribs are well-browned, remove them to a bowl and set aside. Add the onions to the pot and cook until they start to turn golden, about 5–6 minutes. Add the parsnips for another 5–6 minutes, then add garlic and rosemary and cook some more.
Once all the vegetables are golden, it’s time to add red wine and broth. A word on the type of wine: I find Cabernet Franc works really well for this dish. Generally this grape varietal is grown specifically to be blended with other grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. However, it has become popular in areas like Canada’s Niagara region as a varietal to enjoy on its own. It ripens a bit earlier than Cab Sauvignon so tends to fair better in the Canadian climate. I find Cab Francs tend to have a peppery quality with notes of tobacco and cassis that I really enjoy, while it goes lighter on the tannins. These qualities make it perfect to braise the short ribs and delivers a beautiful gravy when paired with the parsnip, rosemary, onion and garlic.
The pot of ribs with wine and broth is placed into a preheated 325° oven where it gently braises for 2.5 hours. Once ready, the meat will have have shrunk considerably (as much of the fat will have melted away into the broth), and if you take a fork to it, the meat will be very soft and fall away in shreds. Often some bones will come loose while it cooks; you’ll find them floating freely in the broth. Once the meat is cooked, I find it is best to remove the ribs, setting them aside in a sealable container, and then transfer the cooled broth into another container to be chilled in the fridge overnight. This way you can easily remove the fat which will harden into a single piece on top of the broth. If you can’t bring yourself to wait and want to eat these immediately (which would be totally understandable!) allow the broth to sit without stirring for 5–10 minutes; you’ll notice the fat will sit on top of the broth (but being clear it is a bit hard to discern from the actual broth). I once skimmed almost two full cups of fat, and I was doubting myself, wondering if I was being over zealous and skimming broth rather than fat. I decided to freeze it to check, and sure enough, it was all solid hardened fat!
Whether you patiently wait overnight or skim off the fat while warm from the oven, the next step is to bring the broth to a simmer and add flour mixed with butter to thicken it into a light gravy, just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Then the meat is added back into the sauce to be warmed up, ready for serving. Pureeing the parsnips further thickens the sauce.
The short ribs are great served on your favourite mashed potato recipe, or to change things up you can make the parsnip-potato mash to compliment the sauce. Recipe for the parsnip mash is below.
Wine-braised beef short ribs
Melt-in-your-mouth short ribs are delicious and simple to make. Best made the day before to allow for the easiest removal of excess fat from the broth.
Beef short ribs
- 2 tbsp butter, divided
- 6 lbs 2.5–3" meaty beef short ribs (about 8) "British cut"
- freshly ground pepper
- 1 large red onion, chopped
- 1 1/4 cups parsnips, cut into 1/2" pieces
- 6 garlic cloves, chopped
- 3 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
- 750 ml Cabernet Franc (1 bottle)
- 568 ml beef broth (2 regular size cans)
- 1 tbsp flour
Parsnip Rosemary Potato Mash
- 3 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" pieces
- 1 lb parsnips, cut into 3/4" pieces
- 3/4 cup milk
- 3/4 stick butter (6 tbsp)
Trim large fat from edges of ribs and season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Melt better in an oven-safe dutch oven pot over medium high heat. Add ribs to pot and brown well on all sides (add ribs in at least two batches to ensure proper browning). Remove browned ribs to a large bowl and set aside.
Add onions to pot and cook until golden, about 5 minutes. Add parsnips and cook until golden, another 5 minutes or so. Add garlic and rosemary, cook until garlic has softened slightly.
Add the bottle of red wine and the beef broth. Bring to a simmer, scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pot. Return ribs to the pot, cover, and place into a preheated 325° oven. Braise in the oven for 2 1/2 hours.
Remove pot from oven, and transfer the ribs to a bowl. Check for any loose bones that may have come loose and are drifting in the broth, and remove. Using a slotted spoon, remove most of the parsnip pieces and reserve in a bowl. Ideally place the broth, parsnip pieces and meat in separate containers and refrigerate until the next day.
When ready to serve, remove the layer of fat from the broth and discard. Take about 1/4 cup of the broth and add to a small blender with the parsnip pieces, blend until smooth. Add parsnip puree into the broth, and bring the broth to a simmer. Mix 1 tablespoon of butter with the flour and blend into a paste. Add to the simmering pot to thicken the broth into a light gravy. Return meaty ribs to the pot and simmer over low heat until they are warmed through. Plate and serve with mashed potatoes.
Parsnip Rosemary Potato Mash
Fill a large pot with water and add parsnips, potatoes and a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a boil and cook for 15–20 minutes, until the potatoes and parsnips are very soft. Drain.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl or glass measuring cup, microwave milk and butter until the butter has melted and the milk is warm. Add to the cooked, drained potatoes and mash. Test for flavour and add salt if needed. Serve with short ribs and gravy.
This recipe was based on Zinfandel-Braised Short Ribs over at Epicurious.