Short ribs are simply a delicacy. They are rich, tender and are basically the definition of comfort food. And it happens that sous vide is an amazing technique for cooking them. You can actually change the texture and doneness just by changing the temperature of the water bath in which you cook them. This is something that is not possible with traditional cooking methods.
Instead of cooking them so they fall apart like traditional braised short ribs, I prefer to cook them for 48 hours so they are very tender, but still come out "medium rare."
48 hours is worth the wait. It all starts with a sear to begin flavor development. Then the pan is deglazed with red wine that is reduced with beef stock. It's all hands-off once the meat is sealed in a bag and goes in the water bath.
Sure, you could just throw the short ribs in the bag without searing and they would still be really good, but not develop nearly as much red wine braised-like flavor as when they are browned first.
The steps are very similar to traditional braised short ribs. The difference is instead of closing the lid on the Dutch oven and braising in the oven, you are cooking in a bag in a precisely controlled temp water bath.
- 4-quart Dutch oven or heavy-bottom skillet
- Sous vide immersion circulator machine
- Vacuum sealer bag or Ziplock bag
- Chamber vacuum sealer
- Water bath container
- Aluminum foil
- Fine-mesh strainer
① Boneless Short Ribs: Prime grade is preferred. These are actually strips from the chuck, which is a different area than where bone-in short ribs are from.
② Red Wine: Use a dry red wine like a cab that you would drink yourself.
③ Beef or Chicken Stock: Low sodium and preferably homemade. I personally prefer homemade chicken stock over low-quality store-bought beef stock.
④ Sliced Shallot
⑤ Fresh Thyme
⑥ Diamond Kosher Salt & Freshly Ground Black Pepper
How to Sous Vide "Braised" Short Ribs
Liberally season and brown the short ribs on all sides in a heavy-bottom skillet or Dutch oven.
Remove from the pan along with most of the fat.
Sauté a sliced shallot and then deglaze the pan with red wine.
Reduce the wine with fresh thyme until about ¼ cup remains, then add beef stock and reduce again.
Carefully bag and seal the short ribs with the reduced braising liquid. Be sure your vacuum sealer is capable of sealing bags with liquid. You can also use sous vide safe Ziplock bags and use the water displacement method to remove the air and seal.
Place in a 149° F / 65° C water bath and cook for 48 hours for the tender "braised" texture. Cover the water bath with foil to prevent evaporation during the long cook.
To finish: Remove the short ribs from the bag and strain the liquid through a fine-mesh strainer and into a saucepan. Keep the short ribs warm while you reduce the liquid down until the desired sauce consistency is reached. Optionally whisk in a little butter or cream when the sauce is finished, and serve over the top of the short ribs.
Sides to Serve It With
- Parsnip-Potato Puree
- Sous Vide Mashed Potatoes
- Sous Vide Creamy Polenta
- Sous Vide Carrots
- Sous Vide Crème Brûlée for dessert
- 2 lbs. boneless short ribs (or boneless chuck strips)
- Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper
- Canola oil
- 1 sliced shallot
- 6 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1 ½ cup dry red wine
- ¼ cup beef broth
- Preheat sous vide water bath to 149° F / 65° C
- Trim excess fat from the meat and cut into 3" cubes. Pat dry with a paper towel and liberally season on all sides with salt and pepper.
- Heat a large heavy-bottom skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat with a drizzle of canola oil. Brown the ribs on all sides (about 3 to 4 minutes per side).
- Remove the short ribs from the skillet along with all but about 1 tsp. of the fat.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add the shallot. Sautee until it just starts to brown, then add the wine and fresh thyme sprigs. Scrape the brown bits with a wooden spoon and cook down until about ¼ cup of liquid remains. Add the beef stock and reduce again until there is about ¼ cup of liquid remaining.
- Transfer the browned short ribs to a bag along with the braising liquid and seal or use the water-displacement method if using Ziplock bags.
- Place in the water bath and cook for 48 hours.
Finish and Serve
- To serve right away: Remove the bag from the water bath and strain the braising liquid through a fine-mesh strainer and into a medium saucepan over medium heat to reduce the liquid to sauce consistency. Serve the short ribs with the sauce.
- To serve later: Remove the bag from the water bath and place on the counter for 15 minutes to cool slightly before placing the bag to an ice bath to cool completely before storing in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
- To reheat: Place the still-sealed bag in a 140° F water bath for 30 minutes and then follow the above instructions to serve right away.
- These "boneless short ribs" are actually from the chuck.
- Use a high-quality low-sodium beef broth or use chicken stock when beef isn't available.
- When doing long cooks, it is best to cover your water container to prevent evaporation. Be sure to check the water level to make sure it hasn't gone down too much.
- Make sure your vacuum sealer is capable of sealing bags with liquid.
- If using Ziplock bags and the water displacement method, it can be a good idea to double bag for long cooks like this.
- There's no need to re-sear the short ribs.
- The short ribs can be kept warm in the saucepan with the sauce over low heat.