Mario Batali’s braised short ribs and pumpkin orzo are a match made in heaven. The ribs get braised with tomatoes, garlic, red wine, and beef broth until they’re meltingly tender. Orzo and pumpkin purée makes the perfect side dish for a gorgeous autumn dinner.
These braised short ribs are a one-pot meal. (Ok, fine. One pot and a skillet.) I’ve been making them for almost as long as I’ve been working on this site. They never disappoint.–David Leite
Braised Short Ribs with Pumpkin Orzo
For the braised short ribs
- 1/4 cup 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 full-bodied red wine
- One (16-ounce) can peeled tomatoes crushed by hand, with their juices
- 1 cup store-bought or homemade beef broth
- 1/2 bunch thyme
- 1/2 bunch rosemary
- 1/2 bunch oregano
For the pumpkin orzo
- 2 cups homemade chicken stock or good-quality store-bought stock more if needed
- 1 cup canned pure pumpkin purée (or see the NOTE below to make your own)
- 1 cup orzo
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the horseradish gremolata
- Leaves from 1/2 bunch 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
Braise the short ribs
- Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
- In a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil until hot but not smoking. Season the ribs with salt and pepper and add them to the pot, being careful not to crowd them. Cook until they’re a deep brown on all sides, about 15 minutes total.
- Transfer the short ribs to a plate. Add the carrots, onion, celery, and garlic to the rendered fat and oil in the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are browned and softened, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Stir in the wine, tomatoes and their juices, stock, and herbs, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen any browned bits.
- Bring the mixture to a boil and return the short ribs to the pot. Cover tightly with foil and transfer to the oven. Braise for 2 hours, or until the meat is very tender and falling off the bones. Remove the pot from the oven and set it aside. Spoon off the fat on top.
☞TESTER TIP: Let the ribs and their cooking liquid cool then cover the pot and refrigerate overnight. When you’re ready to serve, skim any congealed fat from the surface and rewarm the ribs over medium-low heat. That extra bit of cooking makes the ribs that much more tender.
Make the orzo
- Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the orzo and pumpkin purée and cook, stirring frequently to prevent the orzo from sticking, until the stock is absorbed, 8 to 10 minutes. If the orzo mixture is too thick, add a bit more chicken stock or water. Stir in the honey and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.
Make the gremolata
- In a small bowl, combine the parsley, lemon zest, and horseradish and toss by hand. Taste and adjust the amounts of ingredients accordingly.
- Divvy the pumpkin orzo among 4 warmed serving plates or bowls. Place a braised short rib atop each mound of orzo, top with some of the braising liquid and the gremolata. Serve immediately.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This braised short rib recipe was very easy to follow and yielded great results. The gremolata lent a very nice accent to the dish. I was amazed that such a simple garnish could result in such a nice overall flavor. The pumpkin orzo, on the other hand, was a nice accompaniment but was very time-consuming to cook. It took three different pans. I make risotto frequently and would have been happy with that as my filler. I assume I could make the orzo in a similar manner and yield good results.
Braised short ribs: The short ribs were beautiful. The meat fell off the bone, as promised, and the sauce was wonderful for a crisp autumn evening.
Gremolata: I was a bit disappointed by this. I love horseradish, but all I was able to taste was the parsley. I don’t know how to solve this, maybe add salt or lemon juice? I’ll experiment next time. I also ended up with way more of the gremolata than I needed. The amount of the gremolata could have been used on twice as many servings.
Orzo: This is a great recipe. I love unique side dishes like this, which can serve as a bed for a piece of meat or fish. It’s particularly wonderful this time of year. My orzo got a little overcooked, because I was doing other things. I would have liked it if there was a time estimate in the recipe of how long it would take the orzo to absorb the chicken stock.
Overall I give this recipe my highest recommendation. The long cooking time for the meat gives you a chance to prepare everything else. The final result is beautiful and satisfying.
Originally published December 04, 2009