The first step in having a successful dish is choosing good ingredients. Most stores sell short ribs for about $4/lb for standard choice grade meat. Even though they are short ribs and are going to be cooking low and slow, I suggest that you find prime grade beef. It should have great marbling, which means that there should be veins of fat running throughout the meat. They should look something like this:
To begin the cooking process, you want to season the meat liberally with salt and fresh cracked pepper. If you have not read my post on seasoning meat, check it out before you begin here. You want to give short ribs AT LEAST 6 hours of seasoning time. That includes a re-salting before you begin to brown. So, the braising process begins with browning the meat on all sides. Choose your most dense cooking vessel, preferably a enamel coated cast iron dutch oven. Coat the bottom with vegetable oil and crank the heat. Make SURE that the heat is intense- usually when the oil begins to smoke a bit. (Open the windows a little during the browning process, it will definitely get smoky.) Place a few ribs in the bottom of the cooking vessel, but be sure not to crowd them or they will cool the metal and the sear will not be sufficient.
Each side should take about 4-5 minutes. They should look like this:
Now that you have your meat seared, you need to get your sauce going. As crazy as it may seem, pour off the fat that rendered out of the ribs. Put clean oil back in the pot and start cooking your mirepoix (onion, carrot, and celery diced to 1/2 inch cubes). Use two carrots, one sweet spanish onion, and three ribs of celery. Season your veg and brown it. Some people suggest that you put your mirepoix into a food processor and make a paste to ease browning. I did about half and half diced to paste. I also add two cloves of garlic to the mix. Let the veg brown, then scrape the brown up, and let brown again. Once your veg is cooked, add in a cup to a cup and a half of tomato paste. Combine that with the veg and let cook for 5-8 minutes. Now, there will be a lot of brown, but don't worry, it will be fine. Add three cups of a fairly bold red wine (a cabernet or an equivalent). The wine must be good wine, something you would drink otherwise. de-glaze the bottom of the pot with the wine, scraping up all of the lovely little bits. I suggest using a whisk for this- it will also help homogenize the sauce. Bring it to a simmer and reduce the sauce by half. Add back in your meat. You must make sure that the braising liquid covers the meat- you should add water to cover, about three cups. Add into the pool two bay leaves and four sprigs of thyme. It will look something like this:
Place your covered vessel into the over at 350 degrees and cook for three to four hours for juicy, fall off the bone ribs. Most of the rib bones will not adhere to the meat, but it will still look delicious. Remove the ribs, plate, and cover in the braising liquid. You can reduce the liquid more, but the cooking time should have reduced the sauce adequately. I prepared a simple garlic and parmesan smashed potato dish for the meat to rest on. I was tempted to take the smashed potatoes and make a Jonny Cake out of it, but I did not have time. I hope you try this recipe and please enjoy.