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close up of beef short ribs and cubes of butternut squash in rich gravy with sprinkles of chopped parsley on top

Beef Stew with Short Ribs

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5 from 2 reviews

  • Author: Lisa Goldfinger
  • Total Time: 2 hours, 45 minutes
  • Yield: 5-6 Servings 1x


A beef stew with exceptionally tender beef and butternut squash in luscious gravy with Middle Eastern flavors of cinnamon, star anise and orange zest. Serve this with mashed potatoes or crusty bread, and a green salad, for the perfect fall or winter meal.


Units Scale

Equipment: Large (5-7quart) Heavy-bottomed lidded pot or dutch oven, kitchen twine


  • 8-10 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4-5 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • Light olive oil or canola oil
  • 4 pounds of beef short ribs on the bone
  • 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 2/3 cups red wine (see notes)
  • 1 28-ounce can of good quality whole plum tomatoes with their juice, chopped or crushed by hand
  • Zest of 1/2 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
  • 4 cups cubed butternut squash (1 1/2 pounds)
  • 1 1/4 cups water
  • 2-3 tablespoons hopped flat-leaf parsley, to garnish
  • Grated zest of 1 large lemon, to garnish


Preheat oven to 325ºF/165ºC

  1. Tie thyme and rosemary sprigs together with kitchen twine and set aside.

  2. Place short ribs on a large plate or parchment-covered sheet pan and pat dry with paper towels. Season with 2 teaspoons of salt, turning the ribs to coat them on all sides.

  3. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in pot over medium-high heat until hot (starting to wrinkle) and sear the ribs in 2 or 3 batches so as not to crowd the pan, browning them on all sides, about 5 minutes per batch, and transfer them to a large bowl.

  4. Remove the pot from the heat and pour off all the fat. Set the pot over medium heat and add 1 tablespoon oil. Add the shallots and carrots and cook, stirring occasionally, for 6-8 minutes, until the vegetables start to brown. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

  5. Add the wine and scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to mix in any flavorful bits stuck on the bottom. When the wine comes to a boil, lower the heat and simmer until the wine has almost evaporated, about 8 minutes.

  6. Add the tomatoes, thyme and rosemary, orange zest, bay leaves, cinnamon, star anise, black pepper, and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir to combine.

  7. Return beef to the pot, along with any accumulated juices, sinking the ribs down into the sauce and spooning some sauce over them. When the sauce returns to a simmer, cover the pot, transfer it to the oven and cook for 2 hours, undisturbed.

  8. Remove pot from oven. Lift the ribs from the sauce with tongs and place them in a large bowl. Set them aside.

  9. Degrease (de-fat) the sauce by using a pot holder to carefully tilt the pot a little until the clear fat flows to one side in a pool. Use a tablespoon to scoop out as much of the fat as you can easily remove, without taking any of the sauce. (see notes)

  10. Add the 1 ¼ cups water and the squash to the pot and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook gently for 20-25 minutes, until the squash is tender. 

  11. While the squash simmers, tend to the meat, which should be tender and practically falling off the bones. Pull the bones out and cut the meat into bite-sized pieces.

  12. When the squash is tender, remove the bay leaves, herb stems, cinnamon sticks and star anise from the stew. Return the meat to the pot and simmer for a few minutes until the meat is heated through. Taste the stew and add additional salt and pepper, if needed.

  13. Mix the parsley with the lemon zest and sprinkle it over the stew and serve. Or ladle the stew into individual serving bowls and garnish each one with parsley and lemon zest.


When you shop for beef short ribs, look for the meatiest ones you can find. Avoid the ribs that have thick layers of fat and less meat. 

Browning the beef before braising it is an important step for developing rich color and flavor in the stew. In order to get a good sear, the beef has to be dry and the pan has to be hot. Browning requires a dry environment so it’s better to brown the meat in batches, rather than crowd the pan, so any juices that are released, evaporate quickly.

I recommend buying canned whole tomatoes even when a recipe calls for chopped tomatoes or tomato puree. Whole tomatoes are less processed than chopped or pureed so they have better texture and flavor. My favorite way to break down canned whole tomatoes is to pour the whole can into a bowl and, with clean hands, reach in and squeeze each tomato to crush it. 

Degreasing (removing fat) is optional but recommended. Short ribs render a good amount of fat as they cook. Although the fat is flavorful, too much fat will make the stew greasy. To degrease the sauce, let the pot sit for 5 minutes or so until the fat pools start to appear. Using a pot holder, tilt the pot gently until the clear, orange-tinged fat flows to one side. Use a tablespoon to scoop out as much of the pure fat as you can get cleanly, without taking any of the sauce. Or, if you cook the stew a day ahead, you can refrigerate the sauce and the meat separately, overnight. The next day there will be a hardened fat layer on top of the sauce that can be easily removed. 

  • Prep Time: 45 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 hours
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Braise
  • Cuisine: Middle Eastern