Braised short ribs, country bread and a big red wine are the components of a perfect winter menu. These fork-tender short ribs can be braised in a slow cooker and served as the centerpiece of a special night in.
Short Ribs Braised in Balsamic
4 to 5 lb. bone-in beef short ribs, each about 3 inches long
1 to 2 Tbs. kosher salt, plus more, to taste
1 Tbs. olive oil
2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup dry red wine
2 Tbs. tomato paste
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
6 garlic cloves, crushed
10 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs, plus 1/4 cup lightly packed fresh parsley leaves, chopped
2 bay leaves
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Trim any excess fat off the short ribs but leave the silver skin and connective tissue intact.
Arrange the ribs in a single layer in a ceramic or glass baking dish. Sprinkle them with the 1 to 2 Tbs. salt and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to overnight.
Remove the ribs from the refrigerator and pat dry with paper towels. In a large, heavy-bottomed fry pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Working in batches to avoid crowding, place the ribs in the pan and sear, turning once, until they develop a golden crust on both sides, about 4 minutes per side. As each batch is done, transfer it to a slow cooker.
Add the vinegar, wine, tomato paste, onion, garlic, parsley sprigs and bay leaves to the cooker and stir to combine. Cover and cook on low for 4 to 6 hours according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Uncover the cooker after 4 hours and check one of the thickest ribs; the meat should be very tender and falling off the bone. If not, re-cover and continue cooking, checking again about every 30 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the ribs to a platter or large, shallow serving bowl. Discard the parsley sprigs and bay leaves.
Using a large spoon, skim off any fat from the surface of the cooking liquid. Transfer the cooking liquid to a saucepan (reserve the onion in the cooker), place over medium heat and simmer until reduced to about 3/4 cup, about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper.
Spoon the sauce around the ribs. Top with a few spoonfuls of the onion from the cooker, sprinkle with the chopped parsley and serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.
Recipe redux: Since short ribs are best when simmered long and slow, make this dish when you’re feeling like a homebody. Serve it for dinner the same night, then store the leftovers (they keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month). On a busy (or lazy) day, heat up the leftovers, pull the tender meat off the bones and stuff it into tortillas with sprigs of cilantro. The combination tastes great with a cold beer.