short ribs bourguignon

Living in a 660 square foot apartment makes in impossible for us to host Thanksgiving dinner, which is too bad because you just know I’ve got that meal all planned out in my head, from the cornbread-chorizo stuffing to the turkey recipe and root vegetable gratin, ready and waiting for the day we get a dining room table! (Also, a dining room. Details.) We also can’t host the major Jewish holidays or but when we asked for the less-popular or significant Hanukah, we were deemed acceptable hosts so long as we don’t poison anyone, so for the second year now, we’ve run with it.

potato latkes

We started with basic potato latkes last night, another Food & Wine recipe from the latke-vodka party feature. (I had made the zucchini latke the day before.) After reading countless articles and blog entries about the glories of deep-frying in peanut oil — it’s supposed to be lighter, have a less-greasy after-effect and a very high smoking point — I used it for the fritters this year, draining them on layers of paper towels and now consider myself converted, too. Although potato pancakes are not deep-fried per se, you need a good slick of it in the pan to get that golden brown, crispy effect so there are many rules that carry over, such as the need for a very hot pan. Despite it’s declining popularity, I’m still partial to non-stick when I cook fritters, at least for the time being as I love the guarantee that they’ll slide right out of the pan even if they land in a oil-free spot as our stove is perennially unleveled.


Because the prospect of standing over a splattering frying pan, flipping latke after latke as guests arrive is my definition of Hosting Hell, I typically avoid making them at all, opting instead for a potato kugel, which essentially a giant baked latke you cut into squares. But, by making them hours in advance, letting them sit at room temperature and reheating and crisping them in the oven I was able to avoid any unpleasantries, keep with tradition, and honestly, you could not tell that they’d been made hours before. I highly recommend this.

potato latkes

As anyone who has ever thrown one knows, there’s something inherently ridiculous about sheer quantity of food served a dinner parties. I mean, we knew that latkes, salad (Bibb lettuce, minced chives, diced grape tomatoes and classic French vinaigrette), a main course and dessert were enough food for two weeknight meals, but by dinner party standards, it seemed skimpy. It seems if your guests are not gutted and glutted by the main course, you’re not doing your job. So, I made a double-batch of August’s garlic soup, too, knowing full well we didn’t need it but that everyone would welcome a warm and bright break between heavier courses, and for myself especially — who woke up yesterday morning with a yucky cold, so unfair — it hit the spot tenfold. Could garlic soup be better than chicken soup for the sniffly soul? I might be converted.

so, so many carrots

Finally, although nobody wanted to eat ever again by this point, we loaded the dish that had been making our apartment smell so good, we wanted to eat the air for the last two days: the braised beef short ribs from Bouchée Restaurant. Wow, where do I start… Think of a bourguignon made with short ribs instead of chunks of beef. We braised it for five hours at a low oven temperature, let it cool, chilled it overnight in the fridge and then skimmed off the ample, gross solids before braising it for another two hours, straining the broth and cooking it down to a thin gravy. All these steps seemingly to the contrary, it’s not a terrific amount of work for a transcendently good flavor. Braising and short ribs are a match made in heaven, and it’s frankly necessary to have an abundantly long cooking time to get the large amount of fat mostly rendered off. All the bones fell out off before we even had a chance to serve it, and even picking out the pieces of meat from the broth gently with tongs shredded them into tiny flecks. It was that tender.

forty pearl onions

I was far less enamored with the accompanying vegetables, one of those redunculous steps you know are a time-waster even as you do it anyway out of a sick sense of loyalty to a recipe you haven’t tried yet. They were blah. Next time, I’d take the same mix (with perhaps fewer carrots) and just cook it in the — seriously, have I told you how good this was? — short rib broth. Chicken stock doesn’t hold a candle to that goodness, but duh, we already knew that.

We piled the vegetables and what was left of the short ribs over garlic-rubbed toasts (though mashed potatoes or egg noodles would have been equally sumptuous, I was out of big pots to cook in!) with extra broth on the side, and my oh my. Tonight, we had some of the leftover broth over egg noodles and I briefly considered mainlining the remainder, I kid, I kid. But mostly because that means we couldn’t have more beefy egg noodles for dinner tomorrow. With any luck, we’ll be swimming in this stuff until spring.

braised beef short ribs

Potato Latkes [This recipe has been relocated here with additional tips and tricks.]

Short Rib Bourguignon
Bouchée, via Gourmet, October 2006

This is just like beef bourguignon, except it uses short ribs. Any remaining sauce would be great served over egg noodles.

Makes 4 servings (but we doubled it to serve 7)

For short ribs
4 (8-oz) pieces bone-in beef short ribs
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 medium carrots, finely chopped
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 (14-oz) can whole San Marzano tomatoes in juice, puréed
in a blender with juice
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
4 cups brown veal stock or 1/2 cup Demi-Glace Gold concentrate (concentrate requires a dilution ratio of 1:8; 1/2 cup concentrate to 4 cups water)*
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
1 tablespoon Banyuls vinegar or red-wine vinegar
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

For vegetables
20 pearl onions (5 oz)
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon Banyuls vinegar or red-wine vinegar
2 cups chicken stock or reduced-sodium chicken broth (16
fl oz)
4 medium carrots, cut diagonally into 1 1/2-inch pieces
3 thick bacon slices (preferably applewood-smoked; 1/4 lb total), cut crosswise into 1/4-inch pieces**
8 medium fresh white mushrooms, trimmed and quartered lengthwise

Braise short ribs:
Put oven rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 250»F.

Pat beef dry. Heat oil in a wide (12 inches in diameter) 3- to 5-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown beef on all sides, turning with tongs, about 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon sea salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

Add chopped carrots, onion, and garlic to oil in pot and cook over moderate heat, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in 1 cup puréed tomatoes (reserve remainder for another use) and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Add wine and boil, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened, about 8 minutes.

Add veal stock, thyme, bay leaf, vinegars, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to sauce, and bring to a simmer. Skim fat from surface, then add beef along with any juices accumulated on plate and cover pot with a tight-fitting lid. Transfer to oven and braise until beef is very tender, 4 to 5 hours.

Cook vegetables while beef braises:
Blanch pearl onions in a wide 2- to 3-quart heavy saucepan of boiling water 1 minute, then drain in a sieve. When just cool enough to handle, peel onions with a paring knife, trimming root end just enough to leave onions intact.

Heat butter in dried saucepan over moderate heat until foam subsides, then cook onions, stirring occasionally, until brown spots appear, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in vinegar, then add chicken stock and carrots and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until vegetables are tender, 20 to 25 minutes. Uncover and boil, if necessary, until liquid glazes vegetables.

While vegetables are simmering, cook bacon in a 10-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 4 to 6 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, until mushrooms are tender and bacon is browned and crisp, about 4 minutes. Transfer with a slotted spoon to vegetables in saucepan.

Assemble dish:
Transfer a short rib to each of 4 soup plates and keep warm in oven. Pour sauce through a medium-mesh sieve into a large bowl, pressing on and then discarding solids, then skim fat from sauce. Boil sauce, if necessary, until thickened and reduced to about 3 cups. Season with salt and pepper. Add about 2 cups sauce to vegetables (reserve remaining sauce for another use), then spoon mixture around short ribs.

Note: Ribs can be braised 1 day ahead and cooled completely in sauce, uncovered, then chilled, covered. Remove solidified fat from dish before reheating. This is actually a great way to get rid of nearly all of the excess fat.

* I couldn’t find veal stock and found the price of demi-glace concentrate at this quantity leaving me questioning whether it was flecked with gold, so I used canned beef broth instead. I’m not sure what we were missing as I haven’t made it the other way, but I can tell you that we didn’t actually miss a thing.
** Skipped the bacon, as we’ve got mostly kosher peeps in the family.

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39 comments on short ribs bourguignon

  1. This looks wonderful, and I´m sure it also smelled like heaven… nothing better for one´s appetitte than smelling the heavenly smell of meat slowly roasting in the oven.
    You`ve convinced me, I´m gonna have to try latkes after a double post on latkes since you have never failed me before and I don´t see any reason why you would start now lol

  2. deb

    Jessica – A necklace that you will no doubt seeing me wear whenever I can find an excuse. Like, cleaning. Or, sleeping. :)

    Jenifer – Houston? We’re going to need some answers.

    Alex and I have decided that latkes would be the ultimate base to a poached egg. Alex would like his in a stack with smoked salmon, red onion, creme fraiche and caviar; I’d like mine with spinach and hollandaise. You think we can get Katz’s to get on that? Heh.

    Jessie – I hope so, but if not, they were too polite to complain. Must be all the booze we shoved down their throats.

    Tammy – Heh! Nobody gets to help in the kitchen. I’m that kind of host.

    Marce – Can’t wait to see how it goes. I see you tried the onion soup?

  3. Gorgeous photos that really communicate how delicious that must have tasted. And I do think that frying anything as guests arrive is hell–so I love that recipe. Thanks!

  4. Yvo

    Mmmm, I adore braise short ribs, but it’s definitely a weekend project. Mmm, that’s making me crave mine :)

    Your party sounds fantastic. I’ll be posting soon enough about how I crammed 14 (adult) people + one frantic dog into a 600~ sf. apartment for a holiday dinner as well. Right after the new year I’ll post about it :)

  5. Hi Deb,

    I’ve been reading your blog off and on for a couple of months, blogrolled you a couple of weeks ago, and am unlurking today.

    Some of my best cooking was in an apartment kitchen with a very small Sunset range. “Sunset” being a brand of kitchen appliance reserved for chintzy landlords who don’t expect their tenants to try to fit two pots on the stove at the same time. Have you ever read Arthur Schwartz’s cookbook, Cooking in a Small Kitchen? It’s from around 1980. It’s really charming and ahead of its time. I will never get rid of my stained and battered copy, even though I have a large kitchen with two sinks. It helps me remember where I came from.

  6. Yeah, I tried the onion soup, it was great but I think I overdid the amount on beef bouillion (since I had to use a homemade one and it was probably more flavorful than the store-bought variety), so my soup ended up with a stronger beef flavor than onion flavor. Still delicious though.

  7. everytime i see ur page i have a ridiculous craving for potato pancakes… ive been making it the way an old neighbor taught me since i was probably 10 years old… sooo good. i think ill make some this week. =P

  8. braised short ribs are just simply one of my absolute favorite things ever. I still rave about the ones i had at Jerry’s on Prince St, and I dream of the day I buy my own Le Creuset or Staub (shamefully, I still lack my own, but in an apt 350 sq feet, sigh!) and it will be the first thing I make… yours looks mouth-wateringly amazing!

    i think alex should teach a master class to boys in new york on proper gift giving around holiday time. :-)

  9. Bonnie

    Looking forward to making batch number 2 tonight. One MAJOR ingredient missing though:: and outdoor burner! After moving out west, the one thing we splurged on was an outdoor burner next to the grill. And if it werent for that, the family would be “latke-less”! Hanukkah wishes to you! Oh – one question: flour vs matzo meal vs both?

  10. Sydney

    WOW! Thank you for this recipe. I served it at a dinner party last night and it was so incredibly amazing. Very, very rich but oh SO delicious. Looking forward to trying the leftovers with egg noodles tonight.

    I also doubled the recipe (there were 6 of us eating). There were a few things that I had trouble with, but it all worked out in the end.

    – when preparing the vegetables that are served with the stew the amount of chicken broth seemed like a lot. My veggies were nice and tender after 25 minutes and I had to take them out of the stock so I could reduce the liquid sufficiently to “glaze the vegetables”. Had I left them in the pot during that process I’m afraid they would’ve been mush!

    – I used the bacon, yummy! However, according to the recipe instructions, you’re supposed to cook the bacon for a bit and then toss in the mushrooms before adding all that to the other veggies. There’s no step to drain the bacon fat, which there was a lot of. Might have been a little like deep frying mushrooms in bacon fat. I drained nearly all the grease out of the pan before adding the mushrooms. The dish was still decadent without all the extra fat.

    Thanks again!

  11. Linda Lindauer

    Thanks for the Braised Ribs recipe. I’ve made my mother’s Braised Ribs w/large Lima beans for 40+ years and have wondered what else to do with short ribs (until I discovered Korean Bar B Q). These ribs are such a tender cut, it’s nice to have another option. Thanks again.

  12. Danielle

    Hi – Made this as is, with the vegetables as written. Used the bacon and I have to say, the vegetables blended right in, especially with an extra dose of the amazing sauce from the ribs. Really delicious.

  13. Betty Hillier

    Delicious – no – outstanding. Made for bookclub dinner tonight. I’m sure they will be impressed. Thanks Deb. Love your site – makes me laugh and want to cook.

  14. Leslie

    So, I don’t know where else to put this comment..I kind of want to email you as I’m very curious about your response. My mom is Jewish, and the only Jewish dish she makes is latkes a couple times a year. One of her major pet peeved is finding latke recipes that call for shredded/grated potatoes. She swears up and down that a proper and authentic latke calls for putting the potatoes, milk, onion, and flour in a blender and blending til it’s a goopy badder. I find it interesting that none of your latke recipes talk about doing it that way. I’m not sure why she thinks that’s the only authentic way to do it, other than that’s how her own mom taught her..

    1. deb

      I have occasionally been served latkes like you describe at diners, but they’re not what I grew up with. I am sure there are many different ways to approach them based on what different families do. But I think for the most part, people associate latkes with shredded vegetables.

    2. Kristin

      though they don’t use a blender (too new-fangled!), my Jewish in-laws insist their potatoes & onions must be shredded on the SMALLEST side of the box grater so that it’s almost liquified, rather than big shreds

  15. Alannah

    I’ve cooked Bon Appetit’s braised short ribs before, liked them, but want to try something new for a dinner party. This recipe seems simpler than your Braised Short Ribs, true? Which recipe do you prefer? Does the vinegar here make quite a difference?

    1. deb

      Alannah — They’re both delicious. I don’t think that I’ve ever had short ribs, regardless of the recipe, that tasted bad. They’re magical like that. That said, the Suzanne Goin one is probably even better, especially with the mashed potatoes and chard.

  16. Maggie

    Hey Deb–Your short ribs bourguignon put my cravings on overdrive. I’m dying to make this for an upcoming potluck. The only problem is that I would be working out of an oven-less (typical of Hong Kong). Can this recipe work if braised on the stovetop? Thanks!

    1. deb

      Hi Maggie — I haven’t tried it but theoretically, yes. You’ll want to keep it at a very low, low, low simmer and stir/turn them here and there or they will not cook evenly. Let me know how it goes.

  17. Heidi

    Just found your blog and, WOW! It’s inspiring… I’m delighted to see that you make this amazing dish without the bacon. After years of drooling with Julia and dreaming of Cooks Illustrated obsessive yumminess but turning the page when they made the bacon or salt pork seem so essential, I feel like I’ve just been given hope again! We don’t keep a kosher kitchen, but do avoid pork, shellfish, and meat cooked with dairy. (For us, poultry doesn’t count since birds don’t give milk–an argument preserved in the Talmud!)

    Are there recipes you feel really require the bacon or pork (obviously not as major ingredients), and if so, are there reasonable substitutes?

    In the meantime, Thank You!!

    1. deb

      Heidi — So interesting about the chickens! Hadn’t thought about that. That means you’re free to make my Buttermilk Roast Chicken! We, of course, don’t keep Kosher nonetheless, when bacon is just used for flavoring or fat, I usually think it can be skipped. It does add a layer of flavor but usually there are a lot of other ingredients going in the pot and the dish won’t suffer. The fat can be replaced with an olive or other oil; the smokiness, if you want it, can be replaced with a pinch of smoked paprika. Hope that helps!

  18. Shelly

    Deb: How many latkes does this recipe make, and are we talking large ones or small ones? Also, any tips for multiplying this recipe and possibly making the batter/mixture ahead of time (I know frying ahead of time isn’t great)? I have 30 people coming for a latke party on Saturday and anything I can do ahead of time will make my life easier. :)

  19. Lori

    The short rib recipe is excellent! My favorite Bourguignon recipe that I’ve made so far. For anyone wondering about braising on the stove top rather than in the oven, I simmered in a Le Creuset dutch oven for 2 1/2 hrs and the meat was incredibly tender.

  20. J Black

    this sounds delicious for christmas dinner – but I have a question about the wine. My brother is an alcoholic, is there a substitute I can use for the red wine? thanks

  21. Ruthie

    Fine has an amazing short rib ragu that I think you would love. It is similar but no demiglace and a couple of other steps are different…check it out! Total family favorite.

  22. Sam

    Can we please focus on the corn bread + chorizo stuffing you mentioned?!?! i have friendsgiving next weekend and that sounds like perfection!