Short ribs are an underappreciated cut of beef that, when cooked properly, are one of our favorites. They are full of beef flavor, tender, and pair perfectly with several starches – like rice, any potato, polenta…the list is long! So, when that cold front rolls into your neighborhood, it’s time to braise some short ribs – in beer! With Beer Braised Short Ribs, you end up with a super tender, flavorful and juicy dish perfect to serve over polenta or mashed potatoes!
The Best Beer for Braised Short Ribs
Yes, Cooking with Wine is braising in beer today (which we also love). Getting into the fall season, we decided on a pumpkin ale for our braising liquid, but you have many choices.
However, we strongly advise against any hoppy beer, like an IPA or pale ale. Reducing a hoppy beer will concentrate the flavor to the point of having an unpleasant taste. It would be like adding 30 sprigs of rosemary to a dish! Just don't do it.
How to achieve fall-apart tender beef?
What makes this dish so good? The braise does. Braising requires a good size piece of protein and a liquid. You could do it on the stovetop, but using an oven is much easier and requires little to no attention.
You've probably heard the saying "slow and low," which is a good descriptor for any long cooking method. The low refers to the temperature. So smoking and braising are two of the best examples of slow and low techniques. They are usually applied to tough but flavorful cuts of meat. You wouldn't treat a brisket like a ribeye and grill it like a steak - it would be horribly chewy. The same goes for short ribs, shanks, and other cuts that are usually sold as "roasts."
Braising is just a roasting technique that happens to do it with a liquid. We are not boiling here, just covering the beef about ¾ of the way with the cooking liquid. Doing this for a long time at low heat will break down rigid connective tissue and let the short ribs become fall-apart tender and extremely full of flavor.
One of the best parts about braising is that the liquid becomes the sauce! And it will have so much flavor when it is completed, which is why choosing the proper liquid to braise in is so important. It is also open for various additions if you are in the mood! We kept it simple here, but you could reduce it further and add some cream or even butter if desired for an even richer sauce. Or add some more herbs, a splash of acid (lemon, vinegar, etc.) or even a touch more honey or sugar if you want a sweeter sauce.
The point is to make it taste good, and if you’re serving over mashed potatoes, rice, or polenta, you want the sauce to add flavor to those!
Because we are using short ribs in this recipe, you will end up with a decent amount of fat that you will need to strain out of the final sauce. We describe this in the instructions below.
The perfect side dishes for Beer Braised Short Ribs
Here are a few of our favorite options:
- Smoked Gouda and Porcini Mushroom Polenta
- Parmesan Peppercorn Mashed Potatoes
- Pumpkin Rosemary Risotto with Taleggio Cheese
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We hope you enjoy this recipe for Beer Braised Short Ribs! If you give it a try, leave us a comment below or tag us on Instagram @cooking_with_wine!
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