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Feb 15, 2008 08:23 AM

short ribs: how to brown before braising

Usually, I brown short ribs before braising by searing them on all sides for 3-5 minutes per side. Last night, though, I was making a much larger batch and decided instead to roast them in the oven at 450 for around 45 minutes, bone side down, as some recipes call for. Even packed pretty closely, they browned beautifully, with more evenness and crustiness than searing on the stovetop, and it required no checking and created no spattery mess. Then I braised them for hours at 300 in a mixture of beef broth, shaoshing wine, ginger, scallion, star anise, cinnamon, and cloves.

Oven-roasting was less work, better outcome, easier to do in large quantity than searing -- so why do most recipes call for searing on the stove rather than browning in the oven? When I taste them tonight, will I discover some downside of having roasted them?

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  1. I guess searing meat in an oven for such a long time wouldn't be recommended for other cuts of meat but for something like short ribs it's not a big deal since they're slow cooked. I'll try it next time!

    1. Maybe you will lose some flavor from the fond left on the bottom of the pan during the browning process on top of a stove?

      3 Replies
      1. re: bw2082

        Searing the short ribs helps to caramelize the meat and then it does leave that great fond in the pan.

        If you deglaze the pan on the stove with some of the liquid you're going to be braising the short ribs in and then just transfer it into the roasting pan, you've got the best of both worlds. Sometimes I use a dutch oven to sear the meat and then it goes directly into the oven.

        1. re: chicgail

          Some cooks roast bones, scraps and vegetables prior to making stock to develop flavors and color.

          1. re: paulj

            All cooks/chefs do this. You're supposed to for brown stocks.

        1. re: DezzerSF

          Fantastic. The ribs, somehow, retained the outer char even after braising for many hours. We've been eating leftovers for days, finally finishing the last bits by shredding the remaining two ribs and mixing them into thick Shanghainese fresh noodles and adding some chopped green onion.

          1. re: david kaplan

            Oh, your leftover reworking sounds delicious! Your braising liquid sounds very tasty. Thanks for the tip on oven-browning. I'll consider doing that if I'm making a large batch. Did you drizzle them w/ any oil before going into the oven, or were they bare? I assume you let the oven reduce down to 300F before putting the braise in?

            1. re: Carb Lover

              Salt and pepper, but no oil, before the oven browning. After browning, I took the ribs out, deglazed with liquid on the stovetop, cooked down the liquid and added spices and aromatics, put the ribs back in, and put the dish, covered, back in the oven at 300.

        2. That's good to know! I have been lazy and browned short ribs in the broiler, turning on all sides, and using the juices along with all bits in my braise. That works really well and is done in 10-15 min.

          1. My best guess is because if you do them on the cook top you're there to monitor the situation. In an oven, at 450* for 45 mins. will be different for different ovens and you run the risk of over/under cooking. Also, you can make sure they're all the same brownness.
            No other real reason for it. Good browning is good browning.