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When I was a chef at Daniel Boulud’s restaurant Daniel, I cooked four hundred pounds of short ribs a week. For a long time after I left, I couldn’t even look at a short rib. Recently, I have come back to them and remembered why they are so great—achieving rich and complex flavor in the meat and braising liquid takes barely any effort at all. Here, orange wedges cut the meat’s richness with the pulp’s tang and the rind’s pleasantly bitter edge, and they are delicious eaten along with the carrots in the sauce. Simple tweaks, like changing the braising base, make short ribs ideal for any dinner party menu.
The hint of chocolate in Urfa pepper is echoed by cocoa powder in this spice rub. Both bring out short ribs’ richness, which is countered by tangy sumac and pomegranate juice.
11⁄4 teaspoons caraway seeds (5 grams)
3 whole star anise (3 grams)
1 tablespoon plus 1⁄4 teaspoon sumac (10 grams)
2 teaspoons Urfa pepper (4 grams)
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder (8 grams)
Finely grind the caraway and star anise together and immediately mix with the sumac, Urfa, and cocoa powder.
41⁄2 pounds bone-in short ribs, preferably 2 × 4-inch pieces with more meat than bone on each one
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 medium yellow onions
3 medium carrots
6 medium or 4 large garlic cloves
2 cups unsweetened pomegranate juice
To make the short ribs: Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line two half sheet pans with parchment paper.
Put the ribs on one of the prepared pans and season them very generously with salt and pepper on all sides. Heat a large Dutch oven or other heavy oven-safe pot over medium-high heat. Add enough oil to coat the bottom (2 to 3 tablespoons). Add enough short ribs to fit in a single layer. Sear to evenly brown, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer to the other sheet pan. Repeat with the remaining short ribs.
While the short ribs are browning, cut the oranges into 11⁄2-inch wedges (with their peel). Cut the onions into 1-inch chunks. Scrub and trim the carrots and cut one at an angle into a 1-inch piece. Rotate the carrot and cut another 11⁄2-inch wide triangular piece at an angle. Repeat with the remaining carrots. Peel the garlic and cut any large cloves in half lengthwise.
Once the meat is done browning, add the oranges, onions, carrots, and garlic to the Dutch oven. Stir well and sprinkle with salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions have a little color, 5 to 8 minutes
Sprinkle two-thirds of the spice blend over the orange mixture. Reduce the heat to low and stir to evenly coat. Don’t let the spices burn. While stirring, add the pomegranate juice in a steady stream, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan (you want the cocoa to gradually thicken the liquid without clumping). Raise the heat to high and bring to a simmer.
While the liquid heats, sprinkle the remaining one-third of the spice mixture all over the short ribs. Nestle the ribs in the Dutch oven bone- side up. Pour 1⁄2 cup water into the sheet pan that held the meat, scrape up any spices and browned bits, and pour it all into the pot. Bring to a simmer, cover, and transfer to the oven.
Bake until the bones lift right out of the tender meat, 3 to 31⁄2 hours. Discard the bones and cartilage and serve hot.
For a more elegant presentation, transfer the short ribs
to a half sheet pan lined with parchment paper, discard
the bones, and remove and discard any cartilage.
Strain the braising liquid into an airtight container and
refrigerate; discard the solids or save to eat another
time. Chill the short ribs until cold and firm, about
3 hours or up to 1 week, and then trim and cut the cold
short ribs into neat pieces. Pour the braising liquid into
a large, deep skillet and bring to a simmer. Add the
short ribs pieces to the liquid and reheat, spooning the
sauce over to glaze the meat. Serve hot.