It’s hard to screw up short ribs. You just need to cook them slowly and gently for the meat to become softened and luscious. Once cooked, they can be served as is or pulled from the bone and turned into a great topper for rice or noodles, or used for a fantastic hash. Since short ribs contain a fair amount of fat, I like to braise them ahead and then refrigerate so that I can lift off and discard the congealed fat. This is my variation of the Chinese “red cooking” technique, which refers to slow cooking in a broth with soy sauce and sugar, among other things. It can be used with many different meats, such as pork or lamb shoulder.
Season the ribs lightly with salt and pepper. In a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven or casserole, heat
Transfer the ribs from the pot to a serving bowl or individual plates, keeping a bone with each piece if desired, and cover with foil to keep warm.
Strain the cooking liquid into a clean pot, discarding the solids. Let the liquid sit for a few minutes while the fat rises to the top. Skim off as much of the fat as possible. Boil the liquid uncovered until it is reduced by about a third, about 5 minutes. If you like a thicker, more gravy-like sauce, lower the heat, stir in the cornstarch mixture, and simmer for another 3 to 4 minutes. Taste the sauce, season it with salt and pepper if you think it needs it, and pour it over the ribs.
Transfer just the ribs from the pot to a storage container. Strain the liquid into a separate storage container, and refrigerate both for up to 3 days. At serving time, you can easily remove the congealed fat from the surface of the chilled liquid. Then proceed with the boiling, reducing, and thickening described above. Reheat the ribs in the finished sauce, and enjoy.
© 2004 John Ash. All rights reserved.