For dinner tonight, I made braised short ribs with a cheddar and Colby Jack polenta. My plan was to do the short ribs slowly, either on the stove or oven – I’ve done both before – but I got started a little too late this afternoon. I wanted fall-off-the-bone-tender meat, but didn’t want to eat too late, so partway through my prep I shifted gears to using a pressure cooker – my 8-quart Instant Pot. The meal didn’t suffer for the switch – the meat came out so tender I ate it with a spoon! I used some traditional ingredients in the short ribs, along with a few Asian products I usually throw in to build out the flavor a bit more. The first time James saw me put oyster sauce in short ribs he thought I was nuts, but it is really great in stews and braised dishes like this – it just adds some depth, salt, and richness! Today, I used:
- Six thick, bone-in beef short ribs
- A few beef marrow bones, salted and roasted at 425F degrees for about 20 minutes (these aren’t really necessary if you can’t find or don’t want them – I just used them today to make the broth a little richer and beefier)
- Two tablespoons of olive oil
- One chopped sweet onion, diced
- A few celery hearts, diced
- A few carrots, diced
- Two or three cloves of garlic, minced
- A tablespoon or two of tomato paste
- Two tablespoons of flour
- Two or three tablespoons of beef bullion
- A teaspoon or two of mushroom bullion
- A dash or two of garlic powder
- A dash or two of onion powder
- A dash or two of smoked tomato powder
- About two tablespoons of mushroom flavored dark soy sauce
- Three tablespoons or so of oyster sauce
- About half a bottle of red wine (I used a Cabernet Sauvignon)
- A cup or so of water
- A few sprigs of thyme
This was enough for me, a very hungry James, and some leftovers, so it should serve three or four people.
I started by browning the meat in an oven-safe braiser. I planned to do everything in the pot, then throw it in the oven at 350F degrees for a few hours, like I usually do, but realized as I was going that I started way too late, so I cooked everything on the stove then transferred it to the pressure cooker once I was ready to put the meat back in. If I had known I was using it from the start, I would have cooked everything in that pot on the brown setting. After about two minutes or so a side, to brown the meat up, I removed it from the pan and set it aside.
I added the mirepoix (carrots, onion, and celery) and the olive oil, and cooked for about 15 minute or so on a medium heat, to soften everything up. I added the garlic and cooked for just a minute or two, then the tomato paste for another few minutes. I added the flour and let that cook out for a minute or two, then added the rest of the seasonings (everything on my list from beef bullion through oyster sauce) and let them cook together for two or three minutes. Once it all started to stick a bit to the bottom of the pan, I added in the red wine to deglaze, then the water, cooked marrow bones, and thyme. After about five minutes, I checked to see if the taste was where I wanted it to be (it was) and then I poured everything into the pressure cooker. After putting in the reserved short ribs and making sure that the liquid covered a little more than 3/4 of the way up the ribs, I sealed it up and set it to pressure cook for 50 minutes using the meat setting on my Instant Pot.
As a side, I whipped up a quick cheesy polenta. I used the package directions as a place to start, but added more water than it said. I added some chicken bullion instead of salt, and threw in a pat of butter. I brought that up to a boil, whisked in the polenta, and cooked for a few minutes, stirring frequently. I added some heavy cream, a little garlic powder, salt, and a few handfuls of cheddar and Colby Jack cheese, and continued to cook and season until it was the taste and texture that I like. Once the meat was done, I let the pressure release very slowly over about fifteen minutes or so, then served the meat and cooking liquid over the polenta. Sometimes to be fancier I take the broth, strain off the fat, and cook it down with a little flour to thicken it up and make a sauce, but I was already running behind and feeling a little lazy today, so just serving it right out of the pot was fine.