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Short Ribs (Braising) - 1st step question (brown in skillet or roast in oven)? Any difference?

The only short rib recipe I've made is jfood's and I was venturing out and was going to try Ina Garten's.

I was surprised that her first step calls for placing the meat on a sheet pan in a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes.

Has anyone done both methods and noticed a difference? Or have any theories if there will be difference?

The rest of the cooking method is basically the same for braised short ribs.

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  1. I think you will get faster browning on the stove so they do most of the cooking in the braise

    1. Browning in the oven accomplishes three things over using the stove top..

      * Less oil is needed
      * Less (hands on)attention is needed
      * Less cleanup is needed

      I would brown in the same Pan as I intended to roast in... but I have braziers that make the tasks easy.

      7 Replies
      1. re: fourunder

        Brown in the same pan on the stove. Better, easier and cleaner .

        Recipes that call for oven browning are nuts, if you ask me.

        1. re: C. Hamster

          Well, it's easier and faster in the oven if you have to do batches in the DO. That's why I use the oven on occasion.

          1. re: C. Hamster

            When I am doing 20-100 pounds Stove top is nuts and less consistent.
            Stove top at home is not cleaner you end up with oil spatters everywhere.
            Not easier either.

          2. re: fourunder

            Several years ago I used a recipe that browned the short ribs in the oven. After trying it that way, I've adopted that method universally. I put the ribs on a wire rack and line the baking sheet with a piece of foil. The only real clean up is to use a brush to rub off any meat that might stick to the wire mesh. I can easily toss the collected fat that has drained off.

            Besides the points that you've made, I've found that the browning is far more even and I can get uniformly dark brown even into crevices and bumps. This compensates flavorwise in my mind for not creating fond on the bottom of the pan. And I don't have to worry about burning the fond as I try to get more browning on the meat. The seasonings don't fall off. The short ribs retain their shape better in the final product. And the meat is cooked more evenly without coarse or dried spots on the outer edges, and seems to retain the juices better. It's pretty foolproof.

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Great tips on the wire rack and excellent point about the seasonings falling off!

              I made the ribs last night and 30 minutes into stove top browning (I had 12 ribs and did it in 3 batches) I was WISHING I gave the oven method a go. Next time, I'll try the oven for comparison.

                1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                  Yes, it's especially great to oven brown meatballs. They don't fall apart and you don't have to roll around a couple dozen in a pot. The wire rack I use at my mother's house has about 3/4" square mesh.

            2. Cooks Illustrated doesn't brown at all prior to braising short ribs in some of their recipes. I think they use enough liquid to submerge the meat by 1/2 or 2/3, and the meat that is exposed browns nicely. I think their recipe includes flipping or stirring the braise occasionally. They tested this method vs stovetop and oven browning and found no difference in the final product, with much less mess. Can't say that I've tried it, but CI is pretty reliable so I thought I'd mentioned it.

              7 Replies
              1. re: chococat

                I really find that browning deepens the flavor and provides wonderful browned bits.

                1. re: magiesmom

                  I think everyone agrees that browning is delicious. But does is matter when the browning occurs- before or during the braising process? The side by side comparison (according to CI, anyways) seems to indicate that there's not much difference. Kind of turns the old cooking rules upside down if they're right!

                  1. re: chococat

                    But if the meat is in liquid, it doesn't really brown, only stews. Only exposed portions will brown.....hence why so many recipes have you brown the meat separately before adding into a pot of liquid.

                    1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                      Since they flip the meat, and half is exposed each time, the whole thing DOES brown, and very well. The only downside I can see is that there is no initial development of fond on the bottom of the pan. Some fond does accumulate on the sides of the braising vessel as the liquid reduces, but that happens whether or not the meat is seared at the start. If you choose not to brown the meat before adding the liquid and vegetables, you sacrifice the opportunity to maximize the amount of fond.

                      1. re: greygarious

                        Ah, okay, if the meat is flipped, that makes more sense then.

                    2. re: chococat

                      Yes, it matters. The whole thing is browned, the carmelization is really key to a good braise.

                  2. re: chococat

                    My friend Harry blogged recently about making brisket in a crock pot and the photos show a pretty nice crust. The idea of making burnt ends in a crock pot blows my mind.

                  3. I love making short ribs....

                    I always brown on the stove, feel like a have a bit more control over the browning, and I also want to dump out the fat that is rendered from the beef, before continuing one with the steps of adding the aromatics and deglazing.

                    Have not seen her recipe, what does she have you do after they are browned? Is the rest of the recipe on top of the stove or do you put it back in the oven to sweat the aromatics and deglaze? Doesn't seem to be more efficient doing it in the oven until it's ready to braise.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                      The rest is on the stove top - until the actual braising time in the oven.

                      1. re: The Oracle

                        Ah, okay. Then I kind of agree that browning them in the oven is just another pan to wash. You'd really need to use a sheet pan to get them browned all over, and if you try to brown them in the Dutch oven you're going to braise in, it must take longer, as it has high sides, and most d.o. Would only fit maybe six short ribs in one layer? What if you were browning more? I always plan for two a person, so that would require me to brown them in two steps. I say bag it.

                    2. I always do stove-top braising for my short ribs because i want to use all of the deliciousness that comes off the browning ribs for either sauteeing onions or to glaze the pan - i feel like browned bits add a lot to the overall dish.

                      9 Replies
                      1. re: ahuva

                        The Fond does lend a lot to the dish but you do not have to lose it with the Oven browning method.

                        1. re: chefj

                          Please continue with your explanation. I cannot imagine deglazing a piece of foil, on a sheet pan, over burners. Somehow, scraping the foil just doesn't compute for me. Would love to know your method. Thanks, chef.

                          1. re: Sherri

                            I've deglazed the ample fond in a foil-lined sheet pan that's produced by the Cook's Illustrated one-pan roast chicken parts and vegetables. I just pour a cup or two of boiling water into the pan, let it sit for a few minutes, scrape over the foil - very slowly and gently - with a rubber scraper, then pour off the contents into a saucepan and simmer to evaporate the water to the desired amount. Add wine or broth or cream, and some Wondra instantized flour, to make gravy.

                            1. re: greygarious

                              gg, thanks for the good idea. "Slowly" and "gently" are two words that I need to learn.

                            2. re: Sherri

                              Don't use Foil. Use a heave bottomed Roastind Pan, Glass Baking Dish, Enameled Roaster etc.....
                              Roast a a very high temp till nicely browned, Reserve meat on the side Brown some Vege(or not) Deglaze with Wine or Water. Add the Meat back and liquid, bring to a simmer, cover and braise till tender.
                              One Pan, No spatters, Fond made and retained.

                              1. re: chefj

                                Bingo! It seems so damned simple that I completely missed this. I'm grateful for the new, improved version of pan browning. I have more roasting pans than I have sense, so this won't be a problem. (Am leery about high heat + glass, so I'll stick to the big boys)I'll give it a try next time out. Thanks for letting me have my fond and eat it too!
                                NB: I'm a French-trained chef and this seems to simple to work .......... especially with all that "tradition" rattling around in my brain.

                                1. re: Sherri

                                  I too am classically Trained, Apprenticeship and all.
                                  It is not very different really, all the same steps are taking place, only the heat source is changed.
                                  Try to use a pan that is not too spacious.

                                  1. re: chefj

                                    Wish that I had thought this through years ago. thanks for the nudge

                          2. re: ahuva

                            All the browned goodness is there when you brown in the oven. It's just not stuck to the bottom of the pan, rather the meat juices and browned surface stay with the meat. You're not taking anything away. And browning at high temp in the oven for a short period of time does not expel the meat juices as much as when fully roasting a chicken or searing on a hot surface. There's a small amount of fond that's easily scooped off since it's sitting a pool of fat that has rendered off the meat.

                          3. I have done it both ways. I think the oven browning is an attempt to make it more 'hands off'. I think using a sheet pan to brown the meat instead of using the Dutch oven that the short ribs will be braised in results in another pan to wash. I would brown the short ribs in the same vessel in which they will be braised.

                            1. Oven browning can be a useful technique to have "in the bag", so to speak. For days when you have more ribs than time. One more pan to wash is just fine with me, if it means I have time for other prep, or even personal time.
                              Overall, with a flavorful braising liquid, I haven't noticed much difference between oven and stovetop in the end results.

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: KarenDW

                                Good to know - wish I hard read this before I started my marathon stove-top browning session. But, now I know!

                                1. re: KarenDW

                                  At what temp do you do your oven browning?

                                    1. re: mcf

                                      Thanks. That was my guess. Glad to know this technique works well.

                                      1. re: scubadoo97

                                        When you have a pile of ribs to do, it's nice to have the option.

                                2. I've done it with lamb shanks and short ribs on occasion when I want it fast and lazy. Mostly I do it in the DO, though, for the carmelization. Good results either way.

                                  1. How do you capture the browned bits (fond) when oven browning? It is simple to deglaze the pan with stovetop browning but I am at a loss with the foil-on-the-sheetpan method. Can someone please explain this?

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: Sherri

                                      You don't, other than what you get if you've rolled them in seasoned flour first. If it made a less delicious braise, I wouldn't do it. Since I always reduce the liquid after skimming, mine are mighty flavorful.

                                    2. The big is difference is that you lose the fond (delicious browned bits) when you sear in the oven. But I suppose you can deglaze the sheet pan. The obvious advantage is when you are doing a large quantity of short ribs. The splatter will occur in the oven as well.

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: letsindulge

                                        You do not lose the fond as pointed out above in a number of responses.
                                        As for the splatter Oven makes it an occasional cleaning Stove top an immediate one.

                                        1. re: chefj

                                          And many ovens clean themselves. So far, not one Dutch oven has obliged me.

                                          1. re: chefj

                                            My Wolf does not have self-clean unfortunately.

                                            1. re: letsindulge

                                              Nor does mine but I do not clean it every time I get Fat splatters in it.

                                        2. I just tried the oven with short ribs and I'm sold.

                                          To me you don't lose the fond as it never left. It's on the meat. Well maybe that is not technically fond but the flavors are retained.

                                          I used a sheet pan with a shallow rack. Clean up was needed to the pan and rack but it may beat out cleaning the floor and stove

                                          Overall will continue to use this method

                                          5 Replies
                                          1. re: scubadoo97

                                            Timely. If your oven will allow, you can put your braisière underneath the rack that you are using for browning...then transfer. you can get a little reduction, plus any drippings, and the correct that in the final sauce.

                                            Funny, I just got some boneless short ribs on a fire sale, and they are about to go in to the marinade overnight as soon as that marinade cools. I'll see what happens tomorrow.Planning on reserving the marinade, browning in the cuts in the oven, and then transferring to my substandard Le Creuset for a 260 F braise. I'll seal the lid and not touch it for 5 hours. If anyone has any input, I'm all orecchiettes!

                                            1. re: scubadoo97

                                              Lining it with foil helps a LOT. I put the rack in the dishwasher, then use a brush for any little brittle bits left on.

                                              1. re: mcf

                                                I find a little seepage under the foil but it helps, no question

                                                1. re: scubadoo97

                                                  Yeah, even with large sized heavy duty, there's some cleanup, but a breeze, comparatively.

                                              2. re: scubadoo97

                                                Just to elaborate the short ribs were braised. #1 son requested root beer braised short ribs. This oven method resulted in nicely browned meat, with no loss of flavor over stovetop browning and less clean up. Two thumbs up!!