Smoked & Braised Beef Short Ribs
If you’ve been to any restaurants of note in the last couple years, you have likely found beef short ribs on the menu in abundance. In fact, I had short rib entrees just recently at Gram & Dun on the Plaza, Story in Prairie Village as well as some premier restaurants outside KC this fall. Grand Street Cafe even has short rib tacos. Other times you can find this savory meat in a gnocchi or pasta appetizer.
There’s a reason short ribs are often times one of the most popular dishes on the menu – they can be very tender, rich, flavorful and satisfying if done right. And as I learned this weekend, they can be very forgiving too. Something many of us home cooks consider a luxury, especially when preparing it for family or friends.
I thought I would jump on the bandwagon and see if I could serve up some of these meaty hunks of savory beef for a family gathering. As usual, I read three or four recipes then went to the kitchen armed with my faulty memory but a good sense of the flavor I was after. This was my first stab at beef short ribs and I decided to incorporate them into the cooking I was already doing for the weekend. Saturday evening, I had two pork butts smoking on my Big Green Egg and planned to cook those overnight. The short ribs could go on about 5am and soak in the smoke for a few hours before I braised them in the oven.
Before going to bed I tossed the short ribs into a plastic bag and mixed up a quick marinade of soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic and dried mustard. The plan was to season them with a rich sweet and spicy rub before placing them on the grill. But as you might expect, 5am on a Sunday isn’t my most focused moment of the week. After fighting to get the fire restarted, the ribs went onto the grill minus the rub.
But as I said, short ribs can be forgiving. These meaty rectangular bones from the underside of the ribcage need to cook slowly over a long period of time in order to break down the connective tissue and make them nice and tender.
After three hours on the smoker at about 250 degrees, they were nicely flavored and well on their way to savory city. I took the cooking inside from there, placing the ribs in a glass baking dish and making a simple braising liquid. I combined some beef broth, red wine and some sautéed onion, garlic and carrots with a little thyme. Once that had simmered for a short period, I poured it into the pan, covered the ribs tightly with foil and put it into the oven to braise.
An hour and half later, my short ribs were nearly falling off the bone. I probably could have braised them longer, but lunch was sneaking up on me. Having seasoned the meat and seared the outside before cooking would have also added great flavor and texture. But thankfully, I didn’t need either. My short ribs were the star of the show (and I was too busy visiting family to take any photos….sorry).
There are lots of recipes out there for beef short ribs, just pick one whose flavors tempt your taste buds. Here is a pretty simple one I may try on a day I don’t want to be outside with the smoker. We can’t expect to have last weekend’s weather last all of winter. But you can count on a savory, hearty dish like short ribs to be a big hit anytime of year.