Mario Knows: Braised Short Ribs

I adore short ribs.  Hearty, meaty, thick sauce, and full of flavor: short ribs = comfort food = happy belly.  I make it a point to order short ribs on every menu they grace.  When I make them at home, I turn to the expert, Molto Mario, because Mario knows how to braise* some good meat.  You don’t have to run out and buy the cookbook though (unless you like Mario as much as I do, in which case, run you must) because his short ribs recipe is right here. (Sigh.  I love buying cookbooks, but they’re just a novelty these days because you can find any recipe online.  I even have a laptop in my kitchen just to find recipes and follow along while I’m cooking, making cookbooks almost obsolete. Except I buy them anyway because I like the look of them on my shelf and the pictures are pretty).


The key to a good braise: sear the short ribs first (bone-in or boneless both work fine), and take your time doing so.  You want a brown crust on all sides.  Because braising in simmering liquid doesn’t get the meat hot enough by itself, you want to sear the meat in hot oil first to develop complex flavors.  [Pop quiz time: do you remember what that brown crust is called when you sear meat?  Answer below #]  I sear the meat in my dutch oven (which is a thick cast iron pot in culinary world. It means something entirely different you’re lying in bed with indigestion, gross).  Mario finishes his braise in the oven, but you can easily finish it on the stove top in the dutch oven, which is what I did here.


Also, Mario can afford to use barolo wine to braise his short ribs.  He’s a restaurant mogul.  Barolo is expensive and I’d rather drink expensive wine than cook with it, so I used a cheap cabernet from Trader Joes.  I also crisped up some pancetta in the pan before adding my wine and sauce to give it some porky goodness.  And if you don’t want to go through the trouble of adding all those veggies and tomatoes to your sauce, you can just add a jar of good marinara sauce.    I won’t tell Mario you cheated. 

I served these short ribs over parsnip puree (parsnip puree recipe here) with a side of sauteed brussel sprouts.  If you aren’t tasting closely you might mistake parsnip puree for mashed potatoes, with a slight carrot taste.   Parsnips give you the creaminess of mashed potatoes, but they are less caloric and higher in fiber so you might call them health food, except the puree requires that you add my new best friends, cream and butter.  Let’s just call it a draw.  short-ribs-3-of-3

The braising liquid starts out pretty thin.  After a couple of hours and by the time your meat is fork tender the liquid is nice and thick.  If it’s not, you can reduce it down further.  Skim off the fat and pour that thick sauce over the ribs.  In fact, I poured so much sauce over my ribs that you can’t even see the meat.  Trust me– it’s there.  That’s the good stuff.

I served this with Four Sons Cabernet Sauvignon from Baldacci Vineyards, right there in Stags Leap District of Napa Valley.  Stags Leap is where you go to find the best California Cabs.  Lots of dark ripe fruits and coffee flavors, and a full mouth feel.  Perfect pairing for a  rich hearty meat.  Not even Mario can argue with that.

* Fun fact: braise is one of the 7 classical french techniques.  Braise means to cook in liquid and is generally used for tough cuts of meat that require lots of cooking time.  Are you getting the new theme here?
# Answer: Maillard reaction (no, not caramelization). Congratulations, you’re paying attention!


  1. These look delicious, I think we will have to tackle this sometime soon – thanks for the inspiration! Also, I used to agree with you on the online recipe thing…until 2 days ago. I went to go confirm a recipe I’ve used for years and couldn’t find it anywhere online – so chalk one up for cook books.


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