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Braised Short Ribs with Pumpkin Orzo

I’ve been making this braised short ribs recipe for almost as long as I’ve been doing this site. It was one of the first recipes from Mario Batali that I ever made, and in all these years, it’s never disappointed. Just a word to the wise: One of the biggest potential problems home cooks encounter when braising short ribs is the amount of fat that this cut of beef throws off. What I do to combat that is make the dish the night before I’m serving it. This serves two purposes: 1. The overnight chill in the fridge allows the fat to congeal on the surface of the luscious braising liquid, so the next day you can easily scrape it off with a spoon before reheating everything. 2. When I slowly simmer the braised short ribs in their liquid to rewarm everything, that extra bit of cooking makes the ribs that much more tender.–David Leite

LC Over the Top Note

David Leite wouldn’t be David Leite if he didn’t find ways to take an already over-the-top braised short rib recipe and make it even more gratuitously over the top. During his latest kitchen escapade, he made uber silken mashed potatoes into which he swirled 1/4 cup white truffle oil, which took the place of the pumpkin orzo. He also swapped orange zest for lemon zest in the gremolata, explaining this lent the dish “slightly fruity high notes.” Sigh. In English, please, David. Sheesh.)

Braised Short Ribs Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 1 H
  • 2 H, 45 M
  • Serves 4

Ingredients

  • For the braised short ribs
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • Four 16-ounce beef short ribs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
  • 5 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  • 2 cups Barolo or other full-bodied red wine
  • One 16-ounce can peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand, with their juices
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 1/2 bunch fresh thyme
  • 1/2 bunch fresh rosemary
  • 1/2 bunch fresh oregano
  • For the pumpkin orzo
  • 1/2 pound pumpkin or butternut squash, seeded and peeled
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup orzo
  • 1 cup homemade chicken stock, or good-quality store-bought stock
  • For the horseradish gremolata
  • Leaves from 1/2 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Zest from 1 lemon (preferably organic), julienned (that just means cut into matchstick-size strips)
  • 2 ounces fresh horseradish, peeled and grated

Directions

  • Braise the short ribs
  • 1. Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
  • 2. In a large, heavy-bottomed skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil until hot but not smoking. Season the short ribs with salt and pepper and add them to the skillet, being careful not to crowd them. Cook until they’re deep brown on all sides, about 15 minutes total.
  • 3. Transfer the short ribs to a plate and keep the pan over medium-high heat. Add the carrots, onion, celery, and garlic to the rendered fat and oil in the skillet. (Be careful, it may spatter.) Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are browned and softened, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste and stir in the red wine, tomatoes and their juices, beef stock, and herbs, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to dislodge any browned bits. Bring the mixture to a boil and return the short ribs to the pan. Cover tightly with aluminum foil and transfer to the oven. Cook for 2 hours, or until the meat is very tender and literally falling off the bones. Keep the oven on. (You can let the ribs and cover and refrigerate the ribs in their cooking liquid for up to 24 hours. When you’re ready to serve, simply skim any congealed fat from the surface of the liquid and rewarm the ribs gently in the reduced-fat sauce over medium-low heat.)
  • Make the orzo
  • 4. Carefully hack the pumpkin or squash into 3 or 4 evenly-sized chunks. Season with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil, and wrap in foil. Roast in the 375°F (190°C) oven for 30 to 45 minutes, or until very soft. Remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes. Then unwrap the cooked squash and dump in the bowl of a food processor. Add the honey, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper, and pulse until you have a relatively smooth purée.
  • 5. Bring 3 quarts (12 cups) water and 2 tablespoons salt to a boil. Set up a large bowl filled halfway with ice water. Have a rimmed baking sheet ready. Cook the orzo in the boiling water for 3 minutes. (You want to blanch it, not cook it through.) Drain the orzo and plunge it into the ice bath to cool. Drain the orzo and turn it out onto the baking sheet to dry.
  • 6. Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a 12-inch sauté pan. Add the orzo and squash purée and cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until the stock is fully absorbed by the orzo. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Make the gremolata
  • 7. In a small bowl, combine the parsley, lemon zest, and horseradish and gently toss by hand. Taste and adjust the amounts of ingredients accordingly.
  • Assemble everything
  • 8. Divvy the pumpkin orzo evenly among 4 warmed serving plates or bowls. Place a braised short rib atop each mound of orzo, top with some defatted juices and the gremolata, and serve immediately.
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