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How long does it really take to braise short ribs?

I attempted the Zuni Cafe's short ribs braised in Chimay ale yesterday. The recipe calls for braising at low heat for 2-2 1/4 hours. I have a hard time getting my stove low enough, so cooked it in a 300 degree oven (which the recipe blesses). I had to take it out after 2 hours due to poor planning on my part, and the short ribs were not even close to fork tender. I think that they needed at least another hour of cooking to get there, probably more. While I'm usually pretty good with a braise, I have had the same issue every time I have made short ribs. I cook them for 2-3 hours, but they never have the fall-apart tenderness that they have when I order them out.

Is it just a cooking time issue, or am I doing something else wrong (possibly not browning enough)?

For disclosure purposes, I will say that I had them sliced an inch thick across the bone, when the recipe called for slicing them 2 inches thick.

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  1. You can increase your oven temp to 350 F. The meat needs to have an internal temp of around 200 for at least 30+ min or so for the collagen to break down. I do mine at 325 to 350 in a covered dutch oven with enough liquid to just cover. They come out falling off the bone in 2-3 hours

    1 Reply
    1. re: scubadoo97

      As a follow up to scuba's post, I would suggest you get an oven thermometer -- it's possible your oven wasn't as hot as you thought it was. If you can count on the reliability of your oven, then it's probable that you didn't cook them long enough.

      I did the Zuni Cafe Cookbook short ribs for my dad for Christmas a few years ago, but mine cooked longer than the recipe called for, because of timing issues. They were great, especially with the gremolata. I'd try the recipe again and cook them longer. Short ribs are a cut that is forgiving to longer cooking. In fact, I'd do them the day before and reheat them before I would try to rush them the day I'm planning to serve them.

    2. It also depends on the temperature of the meat and liquid upon entry into the oven. Most braises jfood does has the liquid close to or at simmer and the meat already in the cooking mode. Likewise it depends on how much is in the baise. Jfood normally braises short ribs 3-5 hours at 275-300. Also found that if you cool them and then bring them back to temperature the cool-cooking process really tenders them up.

      1. Did you brown the ribs before braising?

        4 Replies
        1. re: mrbozo

          yes, brown the ribs on all side, saute veggies, deglaze with wine and stock, bring to hard simmer, cover and into oven.

          1. re: mrbozo

            I did brown the ribs. The whole thing was at a simmer before I put it in the oven.

            1. re: Megiac

              Yes but you mentioned in the OP that you took them out after 2 hours when they need 3-5 (jfood likes them closer to 5). jfood does not buy into short ribs getting fork tender after 2.5 hours in the oven and straight to the plate.

              The problem was probably a combination of the length in the oven plus directly to the plate. Those puppies wanted more time in the sauna, a simple cool down and then a reheat..

              Likewise the place you normally eat them may cook them in the morning, then cool down-reheat process lcloser to meal time.

              Next time try the braise on Saturday, into the fridge and reheat for a Sunday dinner. The best way to end a weekend with some polenta and short ribs.

              1. re: jfood

                I am wondering why the recipe called for cooking them only 2-2.25 hours for fork tender (and I've seen other recipes that have a similarly short cooking time that have had similar not tender results). So far, I've never been able to get them close to where they should be in that time period, so I am not sure what sort of magical meat these cookbook writers are buying (mine was from a very nice butcher shop, so I'm confident it wasn't a meat quality issue).

                Last night, I had forgotten that we had concert tickets until the afternoon. I knew that I wouldn't have time to cook them on a weekday and had presalted them the day before, so I forged ahead. In retrospect, I should have cooked them for two hours, taken them out of the oven when we left, cooked them for another couple of hours after I got home, and eaten them tonight instead (I actually did do this with the leftovers). But since the cookbook gave me a 2 -2.25 hour time frame for cooking, I figured I'd be OK. Lesson learned, I guess.

                They weren't bad. The flavors were actually terrific. I was just hoping for something more tender than what I ended up with.

          2. Megiac -
            I slow cook mine in a heavy LeCrueset dutch oven - in the oven at low heat for prob. a min. of 4 hours (usually longer).....but, that's a lot of time to be home especially on a weekday - ( I won't go off and leave ANYTHING in the oven - personal rule) - - so you might want to give a pressure cooker a try. I have used my pressure cooker for a lot of other purposes - but not with short ribs. I think I'll give it a try and see if it can replicate that long cooking process that breaks everything down so nicely - I'm always skeptical about taking shortcuts, but I have heard of people having good luck with the PC. Just an idea.

            Oh - and I have also found that letting them sit a while before serving helps - or the already suggested idea of cooling and then slowly bringing them back up to temp.

            1. i've done this recipe once, to rave reviews from my dining group, and didn't have too much an issue with the tenderness although it wasn't totally fork tender. but, i did keep cooking the ribs, covered tightly with foil in a roasting pan, until they more or less passed the fork test. the ribs had shrunk considerably on the bone too. i think this was more 3+ hrs in the oven...

              pic: http://allyoucanupload.webshots.com/v...

              my issue with the zuni recipe is i couldn't figure out how to get the braising liquid to reduce correctly. i think i added way too much liquid. it was nowhere near what i'd call a sauce even after 20 min of reducing. oh well.

              i just tried boneless short ribs braised in guinness last week, which turned out great. i will say that if you leave the ribs in the fridge overnight and reheat them the next day, they are fork-tender and flavors are incredibly focused. maybe the "rest and reheat" period is the key, as jfood mentions below.

              pic: http://allyoucanupload.webshots.com/v...

              2 Replies
              1. re: lawrence

                Lawrence,

                I've made a beer-based carbonadde (but not with shortribs) many times and the thin broth rather than a sauce is par for the course with this version (a savory version with onions). I make it straight from a Belgian Provencial cookbook, so I am fairly confident that the thinner broth is par for the course. There is another version of carbonadde I've had in restaurants that is sweeter, thicker and I think has prunes in it, but that doesn't seem to be what the Zuni Cafe recipe is after.

                1. re: Megiac

                  thanks megiac. good to know. i now know i prefer a thick sauce over thin broth. =)