For a dish that takes a day to make, this one is bafflingly easy.

Must be the booze.

A little broiling, a little chopping, a quick bow-tying, and the work is done. Future dinner sits in an oven for 3 hours, lolling in a bath of broth, red wine and ruby port.

But I digress.

Our local supermarket had a special last week on short ribs. I’ve made beef short ribs once, and they were disastrous. (Well, not disastrous, but way too much work for the end result.)

But these looked so lovely. With a new season and a bit of crispness in the evening air, I decided to give ribs another spin.

I looked at lots of short rib recipes. All required knifely precision and careful browning over a hot, oil-spattered stove. Frankly, I had better things to do with my Saturday.

Then I happened upon a recipe from Dorie Greenspan’s “Around My French Table.” Instead of browning the ribs stovetop, she suggests broiling them. Instead of minuscule pieces of perfectly pared veg, she instructs a rough chop.

And that booze. A full bottle of red wine. A cup-and-a-half of ruby port. How, I wondered, could these ribs be bad?

They couldn’t. We devoured them last night on a bed of celery root puree and topped with a mixture of grated celery root, garlic, lemon zest and parsley. They were tender, winey and worth every hour they sat in the oven.

While I relaxed …

Wine- & Port-Braised Short Ribs (Adapted from “Around My French Table”)

Feel free to mix up your spices and veggies. Just be sure to follow the cooking instructions carefully.

  • 1 rack of beef short ribs, cut apart
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 2 sprigs of parsley
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed or vegetable oil
  • 3 small onions, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 3 celery stalks, roughly chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 1-inch nub of fresh ginger, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons of tomato paste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 bottle of dry red wine
  • 1 1/2 cups of ruby port
  • 4-5 cups of beef broth
  • Juice of half a lemon

Mix the salt, pepper and five-spice powder in a small bowl. Rub generously over the short ribs, then place the ribs bone-side up on a foil-lined, rimmed baking sheet:

ribs rubbed

Preheat your broiler to high. Place the baking sheet in the top third of your oven. Broil for 5 minutes, then turn the ribs. Broil an additional 10 minutes, or until they’re sizzling. Remove the baking sheet from the oven, and reduce the temperature to 350 degrees.

Tie the thyme, parsley and rosemary sprigs together with a piece of kitchen twine. Set aside:

ribs herbs

Heat the oil in a very large and deep pot. Add the vegetables and saute over medium heat for 10 minutes:

ribs veggies

Add the tomato paste, and saute for 2 more minutes, stirring constantly.

Pour in the wine and port. Add the bay leaf and herb bundle, then boil for about 15 minutes, or until the liquid has reduced by about a third.

Place the short ribs into the pot. Pour the beef broth over. You want the ribs just covered.

Tightly seal the pot with tin foil and place it in your oven. Bake for 2 hours.

Loosen the foil so steam can escape. Bake another hour, then remove the pot from the pan. Let everything cool, then place the ribs in a shallow dish and pour the sauce in another pan. Cover both and refrigerate overnight.

About an hour before dinner, remove the ribs and sauce from the refrigerator. Scrape the congealed fat off of the sauce. Strain the sauce into a large saute pan.

Let the cold ribs and sauce come to room temperature. (This takes some time. Don’t hurry it.). Heat the sauce and let it boil for 20-25 minutes so it reduces. Once you take it off the heat, squeeze in the juice of half a lemon to brighten it.

Heat your broiler to high. Spoon some sauce on top of the ribs. Broil them for 5 to 7 minutes, until they’re sizzling and the sauce has glazed them.

Place the ribs on a plate and spoon the sauce over them. Top with plenty fresh herbs or — as we did — celery root slaw.

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