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Braised beef short ribs with red onions

(sheryl julian/globe staff)
By Sheryl Julian
Globe Staff / March 4, 2009

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Serves 8

The bony, tough cuts of meat, such as beef short ribs, might not seem dressy enough for a special dinner, but restaurants all over town are serving them, so we should too. The meat is cumbersome. You'll need a large Dutch oven for browning. Begin with bacon for a smoky taste, then add red onions, canned tomatoes, balsamic vinegar, and white wine (red wine makes the sauce too heavy), and send the dish to the oven. Your kitchen - your whole house, in fact - will be perfumed with all those meaty aromas. Let the sauce chill for a day so you can skim off the fat before serving.

1/4 pound bacon, cut into 2-inch pieces
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 red onions, each cut into 8 wedges
8 beef short ribs (with or without bone)
Salt and pepper, to taste
2 cups canned Italian plum tomatoes, crushed in a bowl
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 cups white wine
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
Handful fresh thyme sprigs
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1. Set the oven at 350 degrees.

2. In a large Dutch oven, render the bacon until it is golden brown. Use a slotted spoon to remove it from the pot. Transfer to paper towels.

3. Remove the bacon fat from the pan. Add 3 tablespoons of the olive oil and when it is hot, set the onions flat sides down in the oil. Brown them without moving for 4 minutes. Turn and brown the other sides. Remove them from the pan.

4. Meanwhile, sprinkle the meat on both sides with salt and pepper. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil to the pan. Brown the meat (in batches if necessary) for 5 minutes or until it is golden all over. Remove it from the pan.

5. Add the tomatoes, garlic, and wine to the pan. Bring to a boil, stirring to remove the sediment in the pan. Add the balsamic and thyme. Tuck the meat back into the pan in one layer. Add the bacon. Spoon the onions on top. Cover the pan.

6. Transfer to the oven. Braise the meat for 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until it is very tender when pierced with a fork. Pieces will be falling off the bone.

7. Transfer the meat and onions to a large container. Discard the thyme. Tip the cooking juices into another container. Let both cool. Cover and refrigerate until cold. Skim the fat from the juices. Return the meat to the Dutch oven. Add the juices. Bring to a boil, lower the heat, and cover the pan. Simmer for 20 minutes, turning the meat several times, until it is hot. Sprinkle with parsley.