Photograph by Roland Bello Food Styling by Maggie Ruggiero Prop Styling by Kim Ficaro

Balsamic Braised Short Ribs

Mains from Issue 2 – Fall / Winter 2013 – Traces

Slow and steady wins the race. An unhurried braise—three luxurious hours of oven time—translates to fall-off-the-bone tender meat. A bed of silken polenta and traces of balsamic round out the hearty affair.

serves 4

  • 4 large, meaty beef short ribs, either butchered along the bone or across it (about 5 lbs)
  • 2 Tbsp canola oil
  • Handful sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 Tbsp juniper berries, lightly crushed
  • 6 large carrots, cut into large pieces
  • 3 stalks celery, cut into large pieces
  • 10 shallots, peeled
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 cups dry red wine
  • 1 cup instant polenta
  • ¼ cup mascarpone or a few Tbsp butter (optional)

  • 1

    Preheat oven to 350°F. Pat ribs dry and trim off any excess fat. Season well with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add ribs and brown well. Meanwhile, wrap thyme and juniper in a bit of cheesecloth and tie with kitchen twine; set aside.

  • 2

    Transfer ribs to a plate and pour off all but 2 Tbsp fat from pot. Cook carrots, celery and shallots until browned, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Stir in vinegar and wine and deglaze. Add bundled thyme and juniper and return ribs to pot. Add enough water so liquid comes about two-thirds of the way up the ribs. Bring to a simmer, then cover meat directly with a piece of parchment and a tight fitting lid. Braise in oven until meat is very tender, about 2½ to 3¼ hours.

  • 3

    Carefully remove ribs to a plate. Discard vegetables and thyme bundle. Skim fat from sauce. Reduce sauce over medium high heat until slightly thickened. Season.

  • 4

    Cook polenta according to package directions, stirring in mascarpone or butter if using. Serve ribs and sauce over polenta.

    Note: Short ribs are even better when made a day ahead. After braising, cool ribs to room temperature then chill overnight. Reheat about an hour in a 350°F oven.