From America's Test Kitchen Season 10: Classic Beef Braises
Short ribs have great flavor and luscious texture, but their excess fat can be a problem since so much fat is rendered during the ribs’ stint in the oven. Most recipes call for resting them in the braising liquid overnight, so that the fat solidifies into an easy-to-remove layer. However, most people don’t plan their dinners days in advance and skimming such a large amount of fat off with a spoon doesn’t work well enough. The meat and sauce come out greasy, no matter how diligent one’s spoon-wielding. We wanted a silky, grease-free sauce and fork-tender short rib meat, all in a few hours.
The first task was to choose the right rib. Instead of traditional bone-in short ribs, we used boneless short ribs, which rendered significantly less fat than bone-in. While we didn’t miss much flavor from the bones, we did want the body that the bones’ connective tissue added. To solve this, we sprinkled a bit of gelatin into the sauce to restore suppleness. We also wanted to ramp up the richness of the sauce. We jump-started flavor by reducing wine with browned aromatics (onions, garlic, and carrots) before using the liquid to cook the meat. This added the right intensity, but we needed another cup of liquid to keep the meat half-submerged—the right level for braises. More wine yielded too much wine flavor; we used beef broth instead. As for the excess fat, the level was low enough that we could strain and defat the liquid in a fat separator. Reducing the liquid concentrated the flavors and made for a rich, luxurious sauce for our fork-tender boneless short ribs.
Make sure that the ribs are at least 4 inches long and 1 inch thick. If boneless ribs are unavailable, substitute 7 pounds of bone-in beef short ribs at least 4 inches long with 1 inch of meat above the bone. To remove the meat from the bone, see the illustrations below. We recommend a bold red wine such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Côtes du Rhône. The test kitchen’s preferred brand of beef broth is Pacific. Serve with egg noodles, mashed potatoes, or roasted potatoes.