Sometimes things happen for a reason. It’s simple serendipity. I walked into the grocery store one afternoon to pick up one pineapple. I’ve been really into juicing lately. Pineapple, clementine, kale, and parsley juice has become an early morning ritual.
After picking up the pineapple, I walked past the meat counter and waved at the butcher, whom I’ve become acquainted with because of my frequent pork belly orders. He calls me over and says he has just gotten a gorgeous side of pork belly in: even in thickness, meaty, and already skinned. Then he shows me thick short ribs that he just finished cutting into large, even pieces. To make a long story short: I left with 8 pounds of pork belly, 5 pounds of short ribs, and one pineapple. The pork belly was destined for sweet cured bacon, the pineapple for juice… but what to do with the short ribs?
I asked for ideas on twitter and @ElyssaK suggested a recipe for root beer-braised short ribs. She said it was “seriously, insanely good.”
I love root beer and jumped at the chance of trying something new. I adapted the recipe, since it was meant to be made in a slow cooker. The root beer is aromatic and sweet and really helps build an extra layer of flavor. The truth is that you could use any liquid you want. I used a total of 6 cups of liquid: a combination of root beer, wine, and beef broth. You just need enough liquid to barely cover the meat in the pot.
This can easily be my new favorite comfort food: tender short ribs in a savory and aromatic sauce over creamy polenta. It’s a meat lover’s dream. Elyssa was completely right: seriously, insanely good short ribs. Now, be careful who you make this for. It will set the bar high, and you might get requests for more.
Root Beer Braised Short Ribs
• 5 pounds bone-in short ribs
• ¼ cup all-purpose flour
• 1 tablespoons olive oil, more if needed
• 1 large onion, peeled and chopped
• 2 medium carrots, chopped
• 5 ribs of celery, chopped
• 2 garlic cloves, smashed
• 2 cups red wine (I used Zinfandel)
• 1 ½ cups root beer (12 ounces)
• 3 cups beef broth
• 3 sprigs of thyme
• Salt and pepper
• Parsley for garnish
1. Pre-heat oven to 325°F.
2. Dry the short ribs with paper towels. Season with salt and pepper. Coat in flour, shaking off excess.
3. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over high heat. Brown the short ribs on all sides.
4. Remove short ribs to a platter and remove most of the oil. Leave only about 1 tablespoon in the Dutch oven.
5. Add the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic. Sautee for about 3 minutes. Add wine, root beer, broth, and thyme. Bring to a boil. Add short ribs and cover.
6. Transfer pot to the oven. Braise short ribs for about 4 hours, or until meat is very tender.
7. Remove pot from the oven. Remove the short ribs and place on a platter. Strain the liquid into a bowl. Reserve the liquid and discard the solids. Add the short ribs back into the pot. Skim the liquid of most of the fat.
8. At this point you can let this cool, transfer to a container, and refrigerate. It is good to make this in advance. As the liquid cools in the refrigerator, all the fat will harden at the top and you will be able to easily remove it with a slotted spoon.
9. When you are ready to serve, heat the liquid in a pot, bring it to a simmer, and let it reduce by about ¼. Add the short ribs back in. I like to remove the bones before adding them to the pot and also remove any fatty connective tissue that may remain. Taste and adjust salt and pepper. Serve over polenta. Garnish with chopped parsley.