Cook's Illustrated Recipes»Stews»Irish»Beef»Braised Beef Short Ribs with Guinness and Prunes Recipe

Rich, fork-tender short ribs usually need an overnight rest to get rid of the grease. We wanted the fat gone by dinnertime-no bones about it.

The Problem

Since so much fat is rendered during the ribs’ stint in the oven, most recipes call for resting them in the braising liquid overnight, so that the fat solidifies into an easy-to-remove layer. However, most people don’t plan their dinners days in advance and with so much fat, skimming it off with a spoon doesn’t work well enough. The meat and sauce come out greasy, no matter how diligent one’s spoon-wielding.

The Goal

A silky, grease-free sauce and fork-tender short rib meat, all in a few hours.

The Solution

The first task was to choose the right rib. Instead of traditional bone-in short ribs, we used boneless short ribs, which rendered significantly less fat than bone-in. While we didn’t miss much flavor from the bones, we did want the body that the bones’ connective tissue added. To solve this, we sprinkled a bit of gelatin into the sauce to restore suppleness. We also wanted to ramp up the richness of the sauce. Taking a cue from our French-Style Pot Roast recipe, we jump-started flavor by reducing wine with browned aromatics (onions, shallots, celery, and carrots) before using it to cook the meat. This added the right intensity, but we need another cup of liquid to keep the meat half-submerged-the right level for braises. More wine yielded too much wine flavor; we used beef broth instead. As for the excess fat, the level was low enough that straining and defatting the liquid in a fat separator, and then reducing it concentrated the flavors, made for a rich, luxurious sauce for our soft, succulent boneless short ribs.