Short Ribs Fail

Have you ever set out to make an incredible recipe in your kitchen only to have it fail miserably?

This is what happened to me a couple weekends ago. We were having friends over for dinner, and I really wanted to make short ribs. I searched around and thought I found a great, reliable recipe from Tom Colicchio on Food & Wine's website. I figured I couldn't possibly go wrong with a recipe from two sources I trust.

I started the night before, following the recipe all the way through. I heated oil in a large skillet and seasoned the short ribs with salt and pepper. I browned the short ribs on both sides, about 9 minutes per side, as the recipe instructed.

Then I transferred the ribs to a shallow baking dish.

I added onions, carrots, celery, and garlic to the still-hot skillet and sauteed these over low heat for 20 minutes.

Then I added wine and thyme sprigs to the skillet.

I brought the wine to a boil and poured the hot marinade over the short ribs. I set the dish aside to cool and then covered it and put it in the fridge overnight. (I did forget that I was supposed to turn the ribs once while they were marinating, but I don't think that mattered much because the meat was all submerged.)

The following evening, I preheated the oven to 350 and transferred the ribs and marinade from the shallow baking dish to my cast iron Dutch oven.

I poured the chicken stock in, and heated the mixture on the stove until it came to a boil. Then I covered the Dutch oven and put it in the oven for an hour and a half.

After that, I uncovered the short ribs and left them in the oven for another 45 minutes. The sauce should have been reduced by half at this point, but I don't think it was. (Should I have continued cooking the ribs uncovered?)

I transferred the short ribs to a shallow baking dish, poured the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve, and then poured the strained sauce over the short ribs. I covered the ribs and left them to sit in the turned off oven until our guests arrived and we were ready for dinner (probably an hour), and then I heated them under the broiler (this seemed weird but that's what the recipe said to do).

I brought them to the table, and we all piled buttermilk mashed potatoes on our plates along with a short rib each. We topped our short ribs with extra sauce and started to dig in. I had high hopes for fall-apart, tender meat, but the meat was chewy and tough, and I needed to use a knife. I was so disappointed (I didn't even take pictures of the end result). Everyone comforted me by saying they were good and had great flavor. And while I agree that the flavor was pretty good, the ribs themselves were not good.

We had two ribs leftover from the dinner, and I ended up putting them in the oven a couple days later at 325 for about an hour. They were much better after that. But how could the cooking time possibly be that far off?

What went wrong? Have you made short ribs before? Do you have any tips or recipes for me?