Eric Akis: Short ribs two ways go long on flavour

Eric Akis

If you love tender, succulent, meaty beef short ribs, you’re in luck, because I’ve cooked up two tasty ways to serve them.

Just to remind you, short ribs are a cross-section of rib bones cut from beef shoulder. For today’s purposes, the short ribs I used were thickly cut and had to be braised, to make them mouth-wateringly tender.

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First, I seasoned the ribs and roasted them in a hot oven for 30 minutes. That roasting richly colours the meat and renders out quite a bit of the fat layered inside short ribs.

After roasting, the short ribs were set in a casserole and topped with a simmering barbecue sauce/ beer mixture, covered and oven-braised for two hours. At that point, the short ribs are very tender and, as promised, I have offered two ways to serve them.

The first option is to set and serve those saucy short ribs on mashed potatoes flavoured with garlic, tangy cheese and green onions. It’s definitely hearty, filling, comfort food you could serve with a green vegetable, such as brussels sprouts, green beans or chard.

The second way to enjoy those braised short ribs is to use the meat to make “pulled” short rib sandwiches. Once cooked, the ribs are cooled, and then the meat on them is pulled into shreds. That meat is warmed in the braising sauce and stuffed into buns with coleslaw and pickles, creating a very satisfying hot sandwich.

Short Ribs with Barbecue Sauce and Beer

Meaty short ribs, rubbed with flavourings, roasted, then baked and braised in a barbecue sauce/ beer mixture until tender. Serve with the garlic mashed potato recipe that follows. Or shred the cooked short ribs and make the pulled short rib sandwich recipe.

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: Two hours and 30 minutes

Makes: Six servings

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp salt

1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper

• freshly ground black pepper, to taste

12 (about 3- inch long, 2-inch thick) beef short ribs

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion, halved and thinly sliced

2 large garlic cloves, halved and thinly sliced

1 1/4 cups regular barbecue sauce (see Note)

1 1/2 cups (1, 355 mL can) lager beer (see Eric’s options)

2 Tbsp brown sugar

2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 450 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a shallow bowl, combine the cumin, chili powder, oregano, salt, cayenne and black pepper. Deeply rub this mixture on the meaty portions of the short ribs, ensuring you use it all up. Set the ribs on the baking sheet, meaty-side-up. Roast the ribs, uncovered, for 30 minutes.

While ribs roast, heat oil in medium pot set over medium, medium-high heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until tender, about five minutes. Pour in the barbecue sauce, beer, brown sugar and balsamic vinegar and whisk to combine. Bring this mixture to a boil and then remove from the heat.

When ribs have roasted for 30 minutes, remove from the oven. Reduce oven temperature to 300 F.

Set ribs, meaty-side-up, in a 13- x 9-inch casserole. Pour barbecue sauce mixture over them. Tightly cover ribs with foil, and then bake and braise them two hours or until very tender.

Transfer ribs to a serving platter. Skim off and discard fat from the surface of the sauce in the casserole. Spoon sauce over short ribs, and they are ready to serve.

Note: You can use your favourite store-bought barbecue sauce for this. I used Newman’s Own Original Barbecue Sauce. A 350 ml bottle yielded the amount needed for this recipe.

Eric’s options: If desired, you can cook the short ribs a day before serving. To do so, after baking, lift ribs out of the casserole you cooked them in and set them in a clean one. Pour barbecue-sauce mixture into a pot. Now cool everything to room temperature and then refrigerate.

When ready to serve, preheat oven to 300 F. Remove solidified fat from the top of the sauce. Bring sauce to a simmer on the stovetop, and then pour over the ribs. Cover ribs with foil, then bake for 20 minutes or so, or until hot.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes with Cheese and Onions

Potatoes, simmered with garlic, mashed and tastily enhanced with tangy cheese and sliced green onion. These potatoes are a nice side dish for the short ribs.

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 18 to 20 minutes

Makes: Six servings

2 3/4 lbs. yellow-fleshed potatoes, peeled and quartered

4 large garlic cloves, thickly sliced

3/4 cup warm milk (see Note)

2 Tbsp melted butter

75 grams old aged cheddar cheese, grated (about 3/4 to 1 cup)

2 green onions, very thinly sliced

• salt and white pepper to taste

Place the potatoes in a pot, cover with cold water by at least two inches and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook the potatoes until very tender, 18 to 20 minutes. Drain well, ensuring the garlic stays in the pot.

Thoroughly mash the potatoes, and then beat in the milk and butter. Mix in the cheese and green onions, season with salt and pepper, and serve.

Note: Thoroughly mashing the potatoes first, and then mixing in warm milk and melted butter, will help ensure you end up with smooth, lump-free potatoes. You can warm the milk and melt the butter in the microwave or in a small pot on the stove.

Pulled Short Rib Sandwiches

Make the short ribs with barbecue sauce and beer recipe and use the meat and braising sauce to make these tasty, filling sandwiches.

Preparation time: 45 minutes

Cooking time: Two hours and 40 minutes

Makes: Six servings

For coleslaw

2 1/2 cups finely shredded green cabbage

1/2 cup grated carrot

2 green onions, thinly sliced

1/4 to 1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 Tbsp cider or white vinegar

1 tsp granulated sugar

• salt and white pepper, to taste

Place ingredients in a bowl and toss to combine. Refrigerate coleslaw until needed.

For sandwiches

12 (about 3-inch long, 2-inch thick) beef short ribs

6 hamburger buns, split and warmed

• sliced dill pickles, to taste

Prepare short ribs as per the short ribs with barbecue sauce and beer recipe above. When cooked, remove ribs from casserole and set in a large bowl. Cool ribs 20 minutes, or until cool enough to handle, but still warm.

While the ribs cool, skim and discard the fat from the surface of the sauce in the casserole. Now pour the sauce into a large skillet.

When cooled, remove bones from the short ribs. With two forks, or with your fingers, pull the meat into shreds. Put the shredded meat in the skillet with the sauce. Set over medium heat and bring to a simmer, and then cook and stir until the shredded meat is hot, about five minutes or so.

To make the sandwiches, set some of pulled short rib meat on the bottom half of each bun. Top with coleslaw, pickles and top portions of the buns. Serving any leftover coleslaw alongside the sandwiches.

Eric Akis is the author of eight cookbooks, including seven in his Everyone Can Cook series. His columns appear in the Life section Wednesday and Sunday.

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