Braised Short Ribs with Pumpkin Orzo

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

Braised Short Ribs with Pumpkin Orzo
Mario Batali

Prep 1 hr
Cook 1 hr 45 mins
Total 2 hrs 45 mins
4 servings
5 / 6 votes
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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 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.

Assemble everything

  • 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.
Print RecipeBuy the The Babbo Cookbook cookbook

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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


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  1. 5 stars
    These short ribs were excellent. I reduced the braising liquid at the end. The pumpkin orzo was great with the ribs. Chopped up left over rib meat for tacos. Delish!

    1. Thanks, Margo! We’re delighted that you enjoyed them so much. Can’t wait to hear what you try next.

  2. 5 stars
    I loved this recipe. I am a father of baby twins so finding time to microwave food let alone cook something like this is just not possible. However, I wanted to make something for Mother’s Day (celebrating a day early), and I figured out how I could hack this recipe to fit into a kid wrestling, mess cleaning, chore filled kind of day.

    First, I just focused on the prize of this dish. The short ribs. Easy enough to get at the supermarket. Then I did a bunch of substituting. David and staff: stop reading here.

    Instead of orzo, I made packaged, add-water-only mashed potatoes. Instead of fresh herbs, I opened my spice cabinet and used dry thyme and dry rosemary. Instead of peeled tomatoes, I used a can of crushed, which I had in the pantry. I also only used one onion–because that’s all I had in the house–and I used a beef bouillon cube instead of beef broth. And the garlic? Ha! Can’t tell you the last time I saw fresh garlic. Nope, used garlic powder (a good amount). I really just focused on seasoning. David and team, I warned you to stop reading.

    That all said, this came out absurdly delicious. My wife asked if I had a private chef working in the kitchen while we were out doing chores. The sauce was thick but not too thick, the meat was very tender (fall off the bone) and the mashed potatoes were so doctored up by the rest of the dish, you wouldn’t believe if I told you they were packaged.

    I can’t wait for the leftovers.

    1. Ryan, while we have never passed judgment here at LC in the 20 years we’ve been in business, there’s a first time for everything. PACKAGED, JUST-ADD-WATER MASHED POTATOES??!! My heart hurt, and not from the lack of all that marvelous fat that should have been in those potatoes from the start. It takes just 25 minutes to make mashed potatoes–and 20 of those are unattended.

      Setting aside my personal chin drop of shock, I’m delighted you enjoyed the dish. It is super spectacular. And I will make it for you anytime you wish.

  3. 5 stars
    Thank you for posting this fabulous recipe. Somehow I have “misplaced” my Babbo cookbook (or loaned it to someone. .. ) and found your post in my internet search (I should have known I could count on you). I couldn’t resist trying David’s riff on the gremolata and loved the flavor this little change made to the entire dish. I will definitely be using this gremolata recipe on more dishes. The ribs were served with a creamy polenta with a bit of Parmigano-Reggiano (compliments of Frank Stitt’s Bottega Favorita cookbook). I have to say, it was one of the best meals I’ve made in a long time. The perfect dinner for a rare rainy day in Los Angeles.

  4. 5 stars
    Just had the most wonderful version of this dish. No orzo or horseradish. Instead creamy truffle oil scented (which I normally don’t like, but this was perfect, not too assertive) mashed potatoes and a real gremolata with a hint of orange peel. Spectacular meaty little ribs melting into it all. Could not ask for a more comforting dish on a frigid New England afternoon. Like my fuzzy socks or a warm hug; no like fuzzy socks AND a warm hug. Thanks David. Yes fans, despite all his claims to the contrary, the man really can cook! Absolutely yummy.

  5. 5 stars
    Rich…A layered taste of textures. Pumpkin Orso was particularly delicious. I substituted a Barbaresco for the Barolo, as I was able to buy a half bottle of it at the wine store instead of a $40 bottle of Barolo. The meal did take quite a long time to prepare so next time I will probably braise the beef shortribs earlier.
I have never used gremolata before and truthfully do not know what it is…perhaps you can explain…but it was delicious as the combination of lemon/fresh horseradish/parsley seemed to melt over the meat and create a wonderful new layer of taste to the meal. Thanks! Maggie

    1. Maggie, a few things.

      First, Mario Batali doesn’t use $40 of Barolo for this dish. It was discovered he uses a simple, good cheap bottle of red wine.

      Two, traditionally, gremolata is a chopped mix of herbs and garlic that gives a lift in flavor to heavier, oftentimes, fatty dishes.

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