A rich comforting stew of braised short ribs and butternut squash to warm you up on a chilly night. Beef short ribs are braised in the oven with red wine, cinnamon and a few other goodies, until they're fork-tender and falling off the bone. The bones are removed and butternut squash is added for the last half hour of cooking. This is a great make-ahead recipe for a family dinner or for entertaining friends. The meat is unbelievably tender and the flavors are fantastically delicious.
Everyone loves beef short ribs. Because the meat is well marbled, two hours of braising results in incredibly juicy and tender beef. With a nod to Middle Eastern cuisine, I've used cinnamon, star anise and orange zest to infuse this succulent beef and butternut stew with warm, earthy, aromatic flavors. As the short ribs braise in the oven, heavenly aromas will get you excited about the delicious comforting meal to come.
Tips for Making Excellent Braised Short Ribs
Short ribs on the bone are an ideal cut of meat for braising because of their good marbleization, small flecks of fat spread evenly throughout the muscle (red meat). These fat bits soften and melt when the meat is cooked under the low heat of a braise, yielding tender, juicy, falling-apart meat. Also, the marrow in the short rib bones releases gelatin into the braising liquid and enriches the sauce.
To maximize the flavor and tenderness of braised beef short ribs, follow these simple steps for browning the beef and defatting the sauce:
- How to Brown The Beef: Browning the short ribs before adding them to the braising liquid creates a delicious layer of flavor to a braise and it also seals the beef so it gets extra tender and juicy as it cooks. Here's how to get short ribs nicely browned:
- Pat the meat dry with paper towels. Dry meat browns well whereas damp meat creates steam which prevents browning.
- Heat the oil up before adding the beef to the pan, so it sizzles when it hits the oil.
- Always take care not to crowd the pot (work in batches if need be) because crowding will cause the beef to steam in its own juices rather than brown.
- For maximum browning, leave the ribs undisturbed for a minute or so on each side, rather than tossing them over and over.
- How To Defat the Sauce: As the marbled fat in short ribs softens and melts, lots of that melted fat gets into the braising liquid. For rich flavorful sauce that isn't greasy, most of that fat needs to be removed. Here are two methods for degreasing the braising liquid:
- The easiest degreasing method is to chill the sauce in the fridge overnight. The fat will rise to the top and harden, and it can be easily removed, leaving a rich, delicious non-greasy sauce underneath.
- If you're serving the short ribs the same day you cook them, you'll have to scoop out the fat out with a spoon. This takes a bit of time and patience, but it works well. Let the sauce sit for ten minutes or so after it comes out of the oven. You'll see little pools of fat floating on top. Lower a teaspoon slowly down into that fat pool, just deep enough to let the fat flow in from all sides and fill up the spoon, but not deep enough to let any of the sauce slip in. Pour out the fat and repeat, moving the spoon to different areas of the pot, wherever you see little pools of oil, until you've removed most of the fat.
How To Make Braised Short Ribs with Butternut Squash and Cinnamon
To make this delicious short ribs stew with winter squash, start by pan-frying the ribs in a little oil, to brown them on all sides.
Once the meat is browned, set it aside in a bowl and sauté the chopped carrots, shallots and garlic until they soften and turn golden brown. Then add the red wine.
Simmer the wine until most of it evaporates, to intensify the flavors. Then add the tomatoes.
Add in the cinnamon sticks, star anise, bay leaves, orange zest, fresh thyme and rosemary, black pepper, and salt. Then add the short ribs back to the pot, stir everything together, cover the pot and set it in a 325ºF oven to braise, undisturbed, for two hours.
SHORT RIBS BEFORE AND AFTER BRAISING
Set the meat aside while you defat the sauce. This can be done with a spoon while the sauce is warm, or you can refrigerate the sauce and the meat separately, overnight, and remove the hardened fat layer from the sauce the next day. (See more details above in the section on "How to braise short ribs.")
Once the sauce is defatted, return the meat to the pot along with cubed butternut squash and 1 ¼ cups of water. Bring the pot to a simmer and cook gently for 30-40 minutes, covered, until the squash is nice and tender and infused with flavor from the sauce.
Garnish the stew with chopped parsley and lemon zest and serve. These bright flavors add wonderful freshness and color to the dish.
What To Serve It With
Here's the Braised Beef Short Ribs Recipe. If you cook this, I hope you'll come back to leave a comment and a star rating. I'd love to know what you think!Print
Braised Beef Short Ribs with Butternut Squash and Cinnamon
This fragrant stew of exceptionally tender braised beef short ribs with butternut squash and cinnamon is the ultimate cold weather comfort food. Serve this with mashed potatoes or crusty bread, and a green salad, for the perfect fall or winter meal.
- Prep Time: 45 mins
- Cook Time: 2 hrs
- Total Time: 2 hrs 45 mins
- Yield: 5-6 Servings 1x
- Category: Stew
- Method: Braise
- Cuisine: Middle Eastern
- 10 sprigs fresh thyme
- 5 sprigs fresh rosemary
- Light olive oil or vegetable oil, for sautéing
- 4 pounds of beef short ribs on the bone (More details in the notes)
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt, divided
- 3 carrots, scraped and roughly chopped
- 4 large shallots, roughly chopped (1 cup chopped shallots)
- 2 large garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 ⅔ cups red wine (see notes)
- 1 28-ounce can of good quality whole plum tomatoes with their juice, chopped (see notes)
- Zest of ½ orange, removed in long strips using a vegetable peeler, the strips stacked and thinly sliced cross-wise
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 cinnamon sticks
- 2 star anise
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 1 medium butternut squash (1 ½ pounds), peeled, halved, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes (4 cups of cubed squash)
- 1 ¼ cups water
- 2-3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Grated zest of 1 large lemon
- Brown The Beef: Preheat oven to 325ºF. Tie thyme and rosemary sprigs together with kitchen twine and set aside. Pat meat dry with paper towels and season it on all sides with 2 teaspoons salt. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large, heavy-bottomed, lidded pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, and when the oil is hot, brown the ribs on all sides, taking care not to crowd the pot (work in two batches, if necessary) for about 5 minutes per batch, then transfer them to a large bowl. (For more details, see the section in the post on "how to brown beef short ribs.")
- Sauté The Vegetables: Remove pot from heat. Pour off all the fat and wipe out any burnt black bits. Add 1 tablespoon oil, turn the heat to medium, add the shallots, carrots, and garlic, and sauté, stirring occasionally, for 8-10 minutes, until the vegetables are golden brown.
- Make The Braising Sauce: Add the wine to the pot and scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon to mix in any flavorful bits stuck on the bottom. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer until the wine has almost evaporated. Add the tomatoes, thyme and rosemary, orange zest, bay leaves, cinnamon, star anise, black pepper, and 1 teaspoon salt, and stir through.
- Braise The Short Ribs: Return beef to the pot, sinking it into the sauce and spooning some sauce over the beef. When the sauce comes to a simmer, cover pot, transfer it to the oven and cook for 2 hours, undisturbed.
- Debone and Cut The Meat: Lift the ribs from the sauce with tongs and place them in a large bowl. The meat should be tender and practically falling off the bones. Pull the bones out and cut the meat into bite-sized pieces. Set it aside while you defat the sauce.
- Defat The Sauce: This can be done with a spoon while the sauce is warm (see notes below and in the post), or you can refrigerate the pot of sauce and the meat, separately, overnight, and remove the hardened fat layer from the sauce the next day.
- Add the squash and finish cooking: When the sauce is degreased, return the meat to the pot, along with the squash and water. Bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cook gently for 30-35 minutes, covered, or until the squash is soft. Taste and season the sauce with salt and more black pepper, if needed.
- Garnish and Serve: Mix the parsley with the lemon zest and sprinkle it over the stew and serve. Or garnish with parsley and lemon zest after the short ribs are plated.
Canned Whole Tomatoes vs Canned Chopped Tomatoes: This recipe calls for canned tomatoes that are chopped. If you buy canned chopped tomatoes, they tend to be watery. I prefer the quality of canned whole tomatoes and I recommend that you buy them whole and chop them yourself. My favorite brand is San Marzano. Here's a recent NYT article that ranked canned tomatoes. And another good article on why it's best to buy canned whole tomatoes.
When Buying Short Ribs: Look for beef short ribs on the bone that are at least 1 ½ inches thick, with good marbleization. Typically these ribs weigh ¾ - 1 ½ pounds each and have enough meat to satisfy one to one and a half people. You'll need at least 4 ribs for this recipe. I like to ask the butcher to cut each rib in half so there's more surface area for browning, but this is not essential - whole short ribs will work well, too.
Which Red Wine is Best for Braised Beef Short Ribs? Choose a dry red wine that you would enjoy drinking. It doesn't have to be expensive but it has to be tasty because it will flavor your braising liquid. Cabernet Sauvignon or Pinot Noir are good choices.
Nutrition Information shown is an estimate calculated by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for the advice of a professional nutritionist. The fat and calorie content of this recipe vary, depending on how much fat you skim from the sauce.
Keywords: short ribs, braised short ribs