Beef short ribs have this aura of mystery about them. They start out as big hunks of richly marbled meat on even bigger beef bones and somehow, thanks to a lengthy cooking process, evolve into tender mouthfuls of intensely flavored meat. As always, the problem with cooking anything over a long time period creates the risk of dry meat. Thanks to the sous vide process — simmering over very low temperature for hours immersed in a water bath — the end result is moist, tender short ribs.
For the ribs to soak up all the flavor while they’re hanging out in the controlled temperature water, it’s important to give them a good sear first. Ingredients like red wine and tomato paste add acid that’s designed to tenderize the beef while it cooks. Along with that, the plastic bag holding the meat also has the classic mirepoix — onion, celery, and carrots — which infuse the meat with flavor over hours.
Give yourself plenty of time to prepare the recipe. The beef should cook in the sous vide bath for between 24 to 36 hours.
Equipment Note: To cook sous vide, the easiest method is to buy the Anova Precision Cooker. Priced at $149, it’s on the low end of these gadgets. They’re portable and only require electricity, water and a large pot to create the water bath for your meat. Bluetooth compatible, they’ll connect to your phone so you can receive notifications and monitor your meal as it cooks.
You will also need ziplock or vacuum sealed bags. If you opt for ziplock bags, double bag to prevent water from entering into the sealed bag in the event the seal leaks.
Sous Vide Beef Short Ribs in Tomato Wine Sauce
- 1 large onion, diced finely
- 3 stalks celery, diced into 1/4″ pieces
- 1 large carrot, peeled and grated
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 4 lbs beef short ribs, cut into 3 inch sections (the butcher can do this for you)
- salt and pepper
- 5 T vegetable oil for browning (more if needed)
- 2 – 6 ounce cans tomato paste
- 1 cup good quality dry red wine
- 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
To cook the recipe:
Salt and pepper the beef.
Add 3 T oil to heavy skillet and heat over medium-high. Carefully place meat in pan and sear on all sides until golden brown. Remove meat to clean plate.
Pour remaining 2 T oil into skillet and warm over medium heat. Add onion, celery, carrot, and garlic and sauté, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent and golden. Stir tomato paste into vegetables, coating them. Pour in wine and sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Bring mixture to a low boil and reduce to a thick glaze, enough so the sauce coats the back of a spoon. Turn off heat and let cool.
Divide short ribs with sauce into several bags so they aren’t over-filled. Place in large pot filled with water and clip bags to edges to help them float. Butterfly clips are a good choice. Place pot on stove top or on top of trivets. The water in the pot does get hot so you’ll need to protect your counter surface.
Set temperature on Anova Precision Cooker to 163°F. This should create tender, succulent meat. The beef should cook in the sous vide bath for between 24 to 36 hours. The length of time depends on whether you prefer your beef chewier (24 hours), or fall-off-the-bone tender (up to 36 hours).
To prevent the water from boiling off, one option is to cover the top of the pot with pingpong balls. The other option is to keep an eye on the water level and continue to add water if needed. Remember, adding cool water will bring down the temperature of the Anova stick temporarily.
Remove beef ribs from bags and place short ribs in oven-safe dish and cover with aluminum foil. Keep warm in 200°F oven. Pour sauce into small pot. Skim off fat, if necessary. Heat sauce over medium until it thickens slightly.
Serve beef short ribs with tomato wine sauce, mashed potatoes, couscous, or pasta.
Leftover beef is perfect for flaking and making a beef ragù.
Serves 4 – 6.