Braised Short Ribs with Pumpkin Orzo

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 by Mario Batali that I ever made, and in all these years, it’s never disappointed me or my guests.

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 for two reasons: 1. The overnight chill in the fridge allows the fat to congeal on the surface of the luscious braising liquid, which means the next day you can easily scrape it off with a spoon before reheating everything. 2. When I slowly rewarm the braised short ribs in their liquid on the stovetop, 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 with Truffled Mashed Potatoes Recipe

Braised Short Ribs

  • Quick Glance
  • 1 H
  • 2 H, 45 M
  • Serves 4
5/5 - 3 reviews
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  • 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 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 pure pumpkin purée
  • 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
  • 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. Bring the chicken stock to a boil in a 12-inch sauté pan. Add the orzo and pumpkin purée and cook over medium-high heat, 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
  • 5. 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
  • 6. 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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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.


  1. These braised short ribs are a great dish. I loved it. We made it the day before, because we wanted to give the flavors time to meld.

    Two tips: 1. I put the herbs in a small cheesecloth satchel so I didn’t have to fish out woody stems. 2. After letting the dish cool, I refrigerated it overnight. The next morning, I skimmed of the fat that had congealed on top. It made the final dish much more appetizing.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

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