All-American Short Ribs

Serves 4

In many upscale restaurants, bony, tough short ribs have been become tony entrées by being slow braised in wine and aromatic vegetables. I love fall-off-the-bone tender short ribs and here the rich bathing liquid includes aromatic vegetables, red wine, stock, tomatoes and a sneaky hit of bourbon. I serve them over grits or mashed potatoes. Short ribs are sold in both 1- and 2-inch lengths. You and your guests will have plenty to eat if you figure one pound of short ribs per person.

4 pounds bone-in beef short ribs, cut into 1-inch lengths, blotted dry
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced
1 large stalk celery, trimmed and diced
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1/3 + 1/4 cup bourbon
1 1/2 cups full-bodied red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
1 1/2 cups beef veal or beef stock
1 cup diced canned tomatoes
2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce + 1 tablespoon at the end
3 large sprigs fresh thyme or 1 tablespoon dried leaves
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, to garnish

  1. Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Season the short ribs with the salt and pepper. Heat a 10-inch cast-iron Dutch oven over high heat. Pour in the oil and, working in batches, add as many ribs as can fit comfortably in the bottom of the pan without crowding; sear on all sides. Remove the browned ribs to a large bowl and continue until all are cooked, 15 to 20 minutes total cooking time if done in batches.
  2. Stir in the carrot, onion and celery and sauté them over medium-high heat until lightly browned, about 5 minutes, stirring often. Drain the fat, stir in the garlic, cook for 30 seconds and pour in the 1/3cup of bourbon; boil until almost evaporated, 1 1/2 minutes. Add the red wine, stock, diced tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce, the thyme and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Return the ribs to the pot, cover, transfer to the oven and braise until the meat is fork tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  3. Remove the pot from the oven, cool slightly and carefully strain the liquid into a fat strainer. Return the meat and vegetables to the pot, cover and set aside. Once the liquid is separated, discard the fat, add the liquid back to the pot along with the remaining 1/4 cup of bourbon and 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce; gently boil to evaporate some of the liquid and thicken the gravy, 15 to 30 minutes, spooning the sauce over the ribs and turning them occasionally. Taste to adjust the seasonings. Discard the thyme stems and bay leaves, sprinkle with parsley and serve. Alternatively, cover and refrigerate the pot overnight or until the fat congeals, then scrape off the fat and continue with the recipe.