Balsamic-Glazed Short Ribs and Caramelized Onions
Nothing says love and commitment better than a long-simmering braise. — SL
4 to 5 pounds bone-in beef short ribs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
4 red onions, thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, lightly crushed and peeled
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1½ cups dry red wine
2 bay leaves
3-4 large sprigs fresh thyme
A few hours or the night before cooking, pat the ribs dry and season on all sides with salt. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate, then remove to room temperature 30 minutes before cooking. Pepper all sides.
Preheat the oven to 350° and make space in the lower third for a covered Dutch oven.
In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Working in batches to avoid crowding the pan, add the ribs and cook over moderate heat, turning once, until a deep, crusty brown. Transfer the seared ribs to a platter or baking sheet and continue searing until all are browned. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pan.
Add the onion and garlic to the pan and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until very soft and lightly browned, about 20 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and let cook until lightly caramelized, about 5 minutes more. Add the vinegar, wine, bay leaves, and thyme. Add the meat back in—it should be submerged or nearly submerged in liquid—and bring the mixture to a boil over high heat. Cover with a tight-fitting lid and place in the lower third of the oven. Cook for 1½ hours, until the meat is just tender but not yet falling apart. Uncover and braise for 45 minutes longer, turning the ribs once or twice, until the sauce is reduced by about half and the meat is very tender.
Transfer the meat to a clean shallow baking dish, discarding the bones as they fall off. Strain the sauce into a heat-proof measuring cup, reserving the caramelized onions, and skim off as much fat as possible. To serve, nestle each rib against a mound of caramelized onion and spoon warm sauce over both.
The short ribs can be made up to two days ahead and gently warmed before serving.
Wine Pairing—Rich, deep red meat, especially one possessing the slow-cooked decadence displayed here deserves a worthy adversary. A big, bold California Cabernet Sauvignon will not disappoint. The Robert Craig “Affinity” Cabernet is spectacular if you’re splurging. Vigilance Cabernet Sauvignon from Lake County, California, is an excellent budget option. — DR