How to Make Perfect Dutch Oven Short Ribs

Don't be intimidated by their rustic elegance. Making Dutch oven short ribs at home is easy!

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Head to just about any restaurant nowadays and you’ll see some variation of Dutch oven short ribs on the menu. Served over mashed potatoes, creamy polenta or comforting macaroni and cheese, braised short ribs are juicy, flavorful and fall-apart-tender when cooked properly. While they’re not a 30-minute meal, short ribs are surprisingly simple to make. It just requires a little knowledge about Dutch ovens, braising basics and how to choose the best short ribs.

How to Choose the Best Short Ribs

Boneless? Flanken? English? If you’ve never purchased short ribs before, it can be difficult to know where to start and what to look for. While any of these options could be used for braising, English-style short ribs are most traditional for classic Dutch oven short rib recipes. They offer the most meat, plus the bone adds tons of flavor to the final product.

raw short ribsLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

When shopping for English-style short ribs, look for meaty ribs that are well-connected to the bone. The ribs should have ample, even fat marbled throughout with very little surface fat. If the ribs have a lot of surface fat, you can also trim it away at home. Just take care not to damage the connective tissue that adheres the meat to the bone.

Looking for a more affordable alternative? Short ribs come from the area of the cow between the chuck and ribs. Therefore, their flavor and texture is very similar to that of a classic chuck roast when cooked. An easy short-rib hack is to slice a chuck roast against the grain into long, short rib-like sections. Then braise just as you would the real thing.

The Basics of Braising

Braising is a combination of dry and moist cooking methods. It begins with searing the meat and then baking the meat in a shallow bath of liquid until tender. It’s a method often used to cook tougher or chewier cuts of meat because it makes them super moist and tender. To master the art of braising, here are a few quick tips to ensure success:

Season Generously

A well-seasoned piece of meat is the first trick to a flavorful braised dinner. Before seasoning, pat your meat dry with paper towels and then season generously with salt, pepper and any other herbs and spices the recipe calls for.

Preheat Your Dutch Oven

To get a good sear on your meat, you’ll want to make sure your Dutch oven ($60) is nice and hot. Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat and add the meat when the oil begins to shimmer.

Short ribs being seared 1Lauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Sear Without Disruption

Now that the meat is in the pan, don’t touch it. Moving the meat around will prevent that perfect crust from forming. Let each side cook for 2-3 minutes without disruption and only remove once the meat is nice and brown on all sides. Also, take care to not overcrowd the Dutch oven. Sear just two or three short ribs at a time for best results.

Always Saute the Vegetables

Some braising recipes call for you to add your vegetables to the pan with the cooking liquid at the same time. However, the best method is to actually saute any vegetables that are included in the recipe for a few minutes first. This allows the flavors of the vegetables to release slightly before cooking and really infuse the meat with extra flavor while braising.

Save the Flavor

See those brown little bits at the bottom of the pan? They’re full of flavor that you want to save. Before returning the meat to the dutch oven, add a bit of the cooking liquid from your recipe to the pan. This is called deglazing. Use a wooden spoon to stir and gently loosen the bits and the bottom of the pan.

Shallow Is Best for Braising

It’s important to remember that braising is not boiling. A common mistake with braising is fully covering the meat in liquid while cooking. You want to create a steam room—not a hot tub—in your Dutch oven. Adding too much liquid will prevent the meat from browning further in the oven and it will also impact the residual sauce that’s left after cooking. For best results, leave about 50 percent of the meat exposed.

How to Make Braised Short Ribs

Now that you’re a braising wizard, you’re ready to cook the most delicious, tender short ribs you’ll ever try at home.

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds English-style beef short ribs
  • 1 teaspoon pepper, divided
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 celery ribs, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, chopped
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 medium sweet red pepper, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 cup dry red wine or reduced-sodium beef broth
  • 4-5 cups reduced-sodium beef broth, divided
  • 2 fresh rosemary sprigs
  • 2 fresh oregano sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Directions

Step 1: Season with salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 325° F and begin to warm 3 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat in a Dutch oven. While the Dutch oven preheats, pat the short ribs dry with a paper towel and then season generously with salt and pepper on all sides.

searing Dutch oven short ribsLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Step 2: Sear the short ribs

When the oil begins to shimmer, add the short ribs, two or three at a time, to the Dutch oven. Sear each side, undisturbed, for 2-3 minutes until a nice crust has formed and then turn. Repeat until all of the short ribs are brown on all sides. Transfer the short ribs to a plate and set aside.

sauteeing vegetablesLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Step 3: Saute the vegetables

Next, add the celery, carrots, red pepper, onion and garlic to the Dutch oven. Saute over medium heat until tender.

Step 4: Deglaze the Dutch oven

Pour the red wine over the vegetables to deglaze the pan. Use a spoon to gently loosen browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook until liquid is reduced by half.

Dutch oven short ribs in braising liquid before cooking in the ovenLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Step 5: Combine ingredients

Next, return the short ribs to the pan and add the rosemary, oregano and bay leaf. Then, pour the beef broth over the meat till submerged about halfway in liquid. Bring to a strong simmer.

Step 6: Braise in the oven

Cover the Dutch oven with its lid and then place it into your preheated oven. Braise the short ribs for 1-1/2 to 2 hours. When the meat is tender, remove the Dutch oven and transfer the short ribs and vegetables to a platter for serving. Tent with foil to keep warm.

Dutch oven short ribs in cooking liquid after braising in the oven 1Lauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Step 7: Finish the sauce

Next, reduce and thicken the cooking liquid into a sauce. Pour the remaining cooking liquid into a glass measuring cup. Skim the fat. If necessary, add some additional broth to the cooking liquid so you have 1 cup total. Then, in a small pan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter. Stir in the flour and cook until a smooth roux forms.

braised Dutch oven short ribs with gravy on topLauren Habermehl for Taste of Home

Begin to gradually whisk in the reserved cooking liquid and then bring it to a simmer. Continue to stir frequently until the mixture thickens then discard the herbs.

Transfer to a gravy boat and serve with the short ribs, vegetables and your choice of sides. We recommend deluxe mashed potatoes or this creamy polenta!

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Lauren Habermehl
Lauren Habermehl is a recipe developer, food photographer and creator of the blog, Frydae. She is a prolific quoter of FRIENDS, lover of weekend DIY projects and procrastinating fitness enthusiast who enjoys exploring the Milwaukee-area with her husband, daughter and ugly mutt named Tyson Doodles.