Zinfandel-Braised Short Ribs

Back when I made -- er, attempted to make -- those ricotta gnocchi, I also made these short ribs. Unlike the gnocchi, the short ribs came out wonderfully -- tender, flavorful, delicious.

When I saw that this month's Daring Cooks' Challenge was ricotta gnocchi and that we had the option to sauce it however we wanted, I started going through old magazines, looking for ideas. I didn't want to do a pesto or a tomato sauce; I wanted something heartier, something to create a whole meal. I decided on this recipe from Bon Appetit because I thought the sauce from the ribs would complement the gnocchi. I even thought about shredding the rib meat into the sauce and making a sort of ragu. Of course, this whole concept fell through since the gnocchi were not servable, but the ribs, with some fresh bread, made a satisfying meal.

Due to my original plan, I opted not to make the parsnip mashed potatoes that accompany the ribs, and I cut the recipe down to serve just two of us (with a little leftover). Below is my version of the recipe, borrowed heavily from Bon Appetit.

Zinfandel-Braised Beef Short Ribs (adapted from Bon Appetit, May 2009)

2 tablespoons room-temperature butter, divided
6 3- to 4-inch-long beef short ribs
Coarse kosher salt
1 cup chopped red onions
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 750-ml bottle Zinfandel (I used Ravenswood -- perfect for drinking with the meal too)
1 cup low-salt beef broth
1 tablespoon all purpose flour

Preheat oven to 325°F. Season ribs with coarse salt and pepper. Set aside.

Melt 1 tablespoon butter in cast iron dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add ribs and sauté, tossing to brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer ribs to a plate or bowl.

Add 1 tablespoon butter to pot. Add onions and sauté until brown, about 6 minutes. Mix in garlic and then rosemary. Add wine and broth and bring to a boil, scraping up browned bits.

Return ribs and their juices to pan, arranging in single layer. Bring to a simmer, and then cover and place in oven. Braise until ribs are very tender, about 2 1/2 hours.

Transfer ribs to a clean plate or bowl. Spoon fat from pan juices (there wasn't anything noticeable to skim off when I made them). Bring juices to a boil and let thicken slightly, about 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, mix 1 tablespoon butter and flour until smooth (I found it was easiest to use a fork for this). Whisk the mixture into pan gravy; simmer until thickened enough to coat spoon. (BA recommends 5 minutes, but as I left out the parsnips, I simmered the mixture even longer.) Season with coarse salt and pepper. Return ribs to pot; spoon gravy over.

I made another short rib recipe a while ago that was pretty good -- the tomatoes in it were a plus -- but I liked these a lot better. They're a little more hands-on, as the other recipe is designed for the slow cooker, but they're definitely worth the extra time and attention. Reward yourself for that initial effort with a glass of zinfandel and this warm, comforting dinner.

Leftovers were great with some mashed potatoes the following night. Just rewarm the ribs right in the dutch oven with their juices.