Cider-Braised Short Ribs
Tender, glossy, and lightly sweet, these transcendent short ribs melt in the mouth and satiate to the core. Though highly competent on their own, buttery mashed potatoes or creamy polenta provide choice beds in which to nestle the ribs in the savory sauce rendered from the reduction of meat stock, apple cider, onion, and thyme.
This dish can be prepared up to two days in advance. The ribs do cook down considerably, so play it safe with three to four medium or large ribs per person.
Short ribs stand their ground with full-bodied reds, but crisp, sparkling hard apple ciders, such as Eric Bordelet’s indomitable biodynamic “Sidres,” lend a racy and capricious edge to the meal.
16 medium to large short ribs
1 quart beef stock
1 quart apple cider
1 large or 2 small/medium brown onions, coarsely diced
3 sprigs fresh thyme
all-purpose flour for dredging
coarse sea salt
Rinse short ribs and pat dry. Trim off any excess fat and pat dry again. Grind or sprinkle coarse sea salt over all sides of short rib and rub to distribute. Dredge short ribs in flour and shake off excess.
In a large cast-iron casserole or Dutch oven, heat just enough olive oil to cover the bottom surface. Working in batches and without overcrowding, brown short ribs on all sides and remove to a plate or bowl. Pour out fat and clean casserole thoroughly.
Add beef stock, apple cider, onion, and thyme to the casserole and bring to a boil. Add short ribs and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 2 ½-3 ½ hours; short ribs should be fall-off-the bone tender to a fork. Remove short ribs to an ovenproof dish, discard any large pieces of remaining fat, cover and keep warm in a 200°F oven.
Strain the sauce in the casserole into a gravy/fat separator, working in batches if necessary, and then pour into a saucepot, discarding the liquid fat as you go. Bring sauce to a vigorous boil and reduce for approximately a half hour, or until the sauce lightly coats the back of a spoon (just before syrupy).
Arrange the short ribs in a serving dish and pour sauce over ribs. Serve any excess sauce on the side.
Leftover sauce can be used in another meal as a marinade—or a glaze after further reduction—for large beef ribs cooked on a grill.