Whether you braise in a slow cooker or an enamel cast iron pot, braising is a technique that transforms tough, sinewy cuts into meltingly tender tidbits. It’s perfect for coaxing those hefty chunks of beef (or buffalo) off the rib bones.
Pasta & Potatoes
Braised short ribs are often served with buttery mashed potatoes or creamy polenta, both great accompaniments. Pasta works too, and wide ribbons of pappardelle are particularly well paired with the beefy texture; the braise sauce can be enriched with tomatoes to create a ragù. Grate aged parmesan-reggiano on top for a final flourish.
Whatever aromatics you used in the original braise, succulent short ribs are wonderful when tucked into ravioli, the quintessential Italian dumpling. Add freshly chopped parsley or basil to the spoonfuls of meat before you seal them in pasta dough. Dress ravioli with a tomato sauce or serve them in a light beef broth.
A heap of steaming-hot rice is another ideal blank canvas for short ribs. Sautéed mushrooms can be folded into the sauce and ladled over the meat and rice. Toss some green beans or carrots into the pan for color and add cilantro or parsley before serving.
There are two things made for each other: pie crust and braised meat. Cross over to the savory side, and make a flaky duck fat (or lard) pie crust. Line several medium-sized ramekins with the dough; then pack in the short rib meat, along with peas, onions, mushrooms and carrots.
Another option is a hand pie, or pasty, as it’s known in England, usually filled with beef, potatoes and onions. These original hot pockets were conceived for Cornish miners, who were able to eat the thick filling and toss the dough away (it protected the meat inside from the filth of a mine). The remnants of your short rib meal will have a new life when tucked into a crimped dough pocket and baked. No less convenient today (but do eat the crust!), hand pies are great for parties, buffets, snacks, and yes, even lunch.
The empanada, a Portuguese hand pie that has spread around the world, is made with meat (i.e. short ribs), cheese or vegetables, and can be deep-fried or baked. The samosa, a fried Southeast Asian meat pie, is smaller in size and often triangular in shape. While ground lamb or vegetables are commonly used, along with curry, peas and onions, crunchy-crusted beef short rib samosas would be wonderful. Sacrilege in India, where sacred cows seldom end up in samosas with chutney on the side.
The recipe for shepherd's pie was created to make use of leftover meat. Originally called cottage pie, this classic of British cuisine involves a top "crust" made of mashed potatoes that is baked until golden. Comfort food at its finest, a shepherd's pie today is often made with ground beef, but in the spirit of the original, we'd substitute those short ribs you've been trying to finish.
Sandwiches of all Shapes
There's nothing finer than a well-conceived sandwich unless it's eating that sandwich. So shred those short ribs and turn them into sliders. These mini-sandwiches on buns are a hit at every party; try topping with crunchy jicama coleslaw and cilantro
But why stop with sliders? Have you ever thought that the only thing missing in a grilled cheese sandwich was meat? Here's your opportunity: toast thick slabs of buttered bread, layer in a little pulled short rib meat between the jack cheese and bake, or press on a hot griddle until the cheese gets melty.
The tortilla is just a shell, waiting to find its filling. Short rib meat, a little pickled onion or cactus, salsa verde, guacamole and sour cream are all the tortilla wants. That goes for tacos, too.
Beyond the Casserole
Let your imagination run riot and try short ribs for breakfast. Bake in a heavy pan with potatoes and eggs, or make a skillet hash. Break an egg on top for short-order genius.
Short ribs can thicken a good chili, take the place of the cubes in beef and barley soup, top lentils or black beans. So don't hesitate to braise a mess of short ribs - you'll always be able to find ways to solve the "problem" of too much of a good thing.