Is there a more comforting dish for dreary, long winter nights than braised short ribs? Not that we've found. There is one inherent challenge with making them yourself though: they take a looooong time. Even if you are holed up at home with hours to spare, day-long marinade recipes and low and slow cooking means you can’t quickly satisfy your hankering for melt-in-your-mouth meat.
Head to one of these spots instead, where patient chefs have painstakingly done all of the work for you, transporting you to fork-tender deliciousness much quicker.
- The Dish: Braised Beef Rib with Stone-Ground Mustard Spaetzle and Pickled Fresno Chimichurri ($32)
Short ribs from Creekstone Farms in Kansas are marinated for two days in a 14-ingredient marinade with unexpected ingredients including root beer, horseradish, raisins, soy sauce, herbs and spices. Afterwards, they are braised and cooked in the marinade slow and low for eighteen hours, and served with spaetzle made with sour cream, house-pickled mustard seeds, stone ground mustard and mustard powder, and lightly kicky chimichurri, for a rustic, homey feel. “This dish is simple and hearty and invokes those warm and cozy feelings of staying indoors when the weather outside is chilly,” says chef de cuisine Daniel Hoefler. Food and beverage manager Thomas Roberts suggests grenache-based blends made in the Southern Rhône, like the M. Chapoutier La Bernardine Châteauneuf-du-Pape, which touts rich flavors and moderate tannins.
- The Dish: Sweet and Spicy Glazed Beef Short Rib with Baby Fennel, Mint and Winter Citrus ($46, serves two)
Executive chef Tony Chittum’s recent addition to the family-table tasting menu starts with short ribs, which are cleaned, brined, braised and reheated in the wood-burning oven with a sweet and spicy citrus glaze. They are served with a shaved fennel salad with fennel fronds, torn mint, citrus segments, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. “There is something special about sitting next to a fireplace that heated that same meat,” he points out. And while spirits manager Nick Farrell loves to sip nero d’avola wines from Sicily, he’s also apt to recommend Prairie Christmas Bomb, an imperial stout brewed with vanilla, chilies, cinnamon, coffee and chocolate. “The roast notes from the malts and coffee will accentuate the flavors our wood burning oven imparts,” he says, “[and] the chili in the beer will help bring out the chilies in the glaze.”
- The Dish: 24-Hour Braised Short Rib with Anson Mills and Cheddar Grits and Smoked Tomato Coulis ($34)
At the restaurant at the Ritz-Carlton Tysons Corner, chef Phil Skerman slowly braises short ribs in aromatics, veal and chicken stocks for twenty-four hours. The broth is then simmered with roma tomatoes smoked over applewood. The fall-off-the-bone meat is placed on a bed of Anson Mills grits that are mixed with two-year aged sharp Vermont cheddar and wilted winter kale and the deeply flavored tomato sauce. Creating this dish transported chef back to his days in chilly, damp, foggy England when the aromas of thyme, garlic and sage would fill the house when his mom slowly stewed beef. "A hearty braised beef dish satisfies certain primal winter cravings, and there’s no better cut for it than short ribs,” he says.
- The Dish: Creekstone Farms Short Ribs ($36)
Prime-cut short ribs from Creekstone Farms in Kansas are cut across the bones (a traditional Argentine technique), cooked to medium-well to break down the connective tissue and make them super tender. Chef de cuisine Faiz Ally recommends a heavy-bodied red like Chilean carménère to sip alongside. “Short ribs possess the intrinsic beef flavor that most of us get from eating beef--they are very rich, so [they are] satisfying to eat.”
- The Dish: Braised Short Rib with Red Wine Au Jus, Celery Root Puree, Carrots, Parsnips, Greens and Gremolata ($26)
"As with any traditional comfort food, short ribs were a cheap cut of meat that folks could put in a pot early in the morning, go about their day without having to watch over it, and come back home to a savory and satisfying meal that's ready to be served to your family,” explains chef Michael Elish. “The cut of meat is no longer inexpensive today, but we still associate the dish with comfort, and dining with family and friends.” He likes it with a malbec or syrah--the latter’s blueberry and olive notes go especially well with braised meats.
- The Dish: Braised Beef Short Rib with Local Bean Cassoulet, Garlic Sausage, Thumbelina Carrots and Potato Ricotta Gnudi ($28)
Executive chef Matt Kuhn does a classic preparation, where the meat is seared, and the pan is deglazed with red wine, balsamic vinegar and red wine vinegar. He adds a roasted mirepoix and a rich beef stock to the pan along with rosemary and thyme, lets the meat marinate overnight in the liquid then braises it the next day. It’s served with a bean cassoulet, sausage, carrots and gnudi; the 2015 JL Chave ‘Mon Coeur’ Côtes du Rhône’s savory, meaty, earthy character matches that of the short rib, while the elegant fruit lets the root vegetables shine, he says.
- The Dish: Potato Gnocchi with Short Rib Ragu, Chili Flake and Robiolina ($17)
Chef de cuisine Terry Natas braises short ribs for twelve hours in red wine, veal stock, dried porcini mushrooms, carrots, celery, onions and tomato, then mixes them with fresh gnocchi for a hearty and warming dish. It pairs perfectly with the 2016 Produttori del Barbaresco, a full-bodied nebbiolo with dark fruits, pepper and licorice and a lengthy finish. “These hearty wines are made to ease the chill of the coldest nights,” Natas says. “Their bold bodies stand up to the richness of the short rib and fruit and spice characteristics blend beautifully with the ragu.”
- The Dish: 30-Ounce Bone-in Beef Short Rib with Kansas City Rub, Fresh Carrot Slaw, Valentina Hot Sauce and Lime Wedge ($45 for the table)
Executive chef Marcelle Afram’s dish is brined for 72-hours in Mexican Radio Beer and a rub that’s heavy on the mustard. It’s then slow-cooked for 18-hours, and served with a side of house made hot sauce and a shaved carrot salad. “The richness is coating and warming, [and they are] perfect to enjoy with the cask beer near our patio fire pit.” An obvious beverage accompaniment is the same beer that was used to braise the ribs, or an IPA if you want to exacerbate the heat; The Eton Rifles cask brown porter also has a maltiness that matches nicely.
- The Dish: Short Ribs with Bleu Cheese Mashed Potatoes, Baby Carrots, Red Wine Demi Glace and Fried Shallots ($26)
Chef and partner Edward Reavis marinates short ribs in a dry red wine for 24-hours, then braises them in the liquid for four hours along with onions, celery, carrots, rosemary and veal stock until fork-tender. The tanginess from the bleu cheese holds up to the braised beef, while the dish gets a hint of sweetness from the carrots. He likes to enjoy them with the Bodegas Juan Gil Monastrell “Honora Vera” Organica from Jumilla, Spain, which he says has bright and spicy fruit and a tannic backbone that softens next to the full-flavored, fatty ribs. “Short ribs speak comfort because...the aroma will definitely remind you of grandma being in the kitchen preparing a succulent fall apart piece of meat.”
- The Dish: Plat de Côte de Boeuf au Romarin (Braised Angus Beef Boneless Short Ribs in Red Wine-Rosemary Sauce with Parsnip Puree, Kale, Carrots and Cippolines ($30)
“Braising meats is classic in many cuisines, including French, and we love taking a piece of tough meat and making it fork tender,” says chef and owner Michelle Poteaux. “It’s just magical.” Shes loves to pair them with wines from the Rhône Valley, like the 2013 Secrets des Princes Châteauneuf-du-Pape, which blends the fruitiness of grenache with the peppery quality of syrah.
- The Dish: Braised Short Rib “Pastrami Style,” Served with Roasted Cabbage, Pickled and Roasted Cippollini Onions and Gruyere Fondue ($26)
This particular iteration of the classic dish is a special nod to executive chef Thomas Cardarelli’s last home: New York City. “Pastrami is rampant in New York and Katz' may be my favorite restaurant,” he says. “So in homage to this great New York food we treat the short ribs sort of like pastrami before we give it the braise and glaze treatment.” It’s brined overnight with salt and a special spice mixture, cooked slowly for 12-hours, and smoked for an hour over applewood chips. A glaze is made from the braising liquid, and just before it all hits the plate the dish gets adorned with a spice mixture heavy on coriander and black pepper. Try it with the 2015 Cheval Noir Bordeaux, a powerful merlot and cab blend that can hold it own next to such bold flavors.