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Short Ribs Braised in Balsamic

Many cooks—and eaters—think of braised short ribs, country bread and a big red wine as the perfect winter menu. But these fork-tender short ribs make a great summer dish, too. You can braise them in a slow cooker and serve them as the centerpiece of an alfresco supper on the patio.

Ingredients:

  • 4 to 5 lb. bone-in beef short ribs, each about 3 inches long
  • 1 to 2 Tbs. kosher salt, plus more, to taste
  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 2 Tbs. tomato paste
  • 1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 6 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 10 fresh flat-leaf parsley sprigs, plus 1/4 cup lightly packed fresh parsley leaves, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions:

Trim any excess fat off the short ribs but leave the silver skin and connective tissue intact.

Arrange the ribs in a single layer in a ceramic or glass baking dish. Sprinkle them with the 1 to 2 Tbs. salt and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours or up to overnight.

Remove the ribs from the refrigerator and pat dry with paper towels. In a large, heavy-bottomed fry pan over medium heat, warm the olive oil. Working in batches to avoid crowding, place the ribs in the pan and sear, turning once, until they develop a golden crust on both sides, about 4 minutes per side. As each batch is done, transfer it to a slow cooker.

Add the vinegar, wine, tomato paste, onion, garlic, parsley sprigs and bay leaves to the cooker and stir to combine. Cover and cook on low for 4 to 6 hours according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Uncover the cooker after 4 hours and check one of the thickest ribs; the meat should be very tender and falling off the bone. If not, re-cover and continue cooking, checking again about every 30 minutes.

Using a slotted spoon, transfer the ribs to a platter or large, shallow serving bowl. Discard the parsley sprigs and bay leaves.

Using a large spoon, skim off any fat from the surface of the cooking liquid. Transfer the cooking liquid to a saucepan (reserve the onion in the cooker), place over medium heat and simmer until reduced to about 3/4 cup, about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper.

Spoon the sauce around the ribs. Top with a few spoonfuls of the onion from the cooker, sprinkle with the chopped parsley and serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.

Recipe redux: Since short ribs are best when simmered long and slow, make this dish when you’re feeling like a homebody. Serve it for dinner the same night, then store the leftovers (they keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month). On a busy (or lazy) day, heat up the leftovers, pull the tender meat off the bones and stuff it into tortillas with sprigs of cilantro. The combination tastes great with a cold beer.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Good Food to Share, by Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan (Weldon Owen, Inc., 2010).