Short ribs and mushroom polenta

I know, I know, short ribs are getting a bit played out (like banh mi or bacon aren’t?)  But you’ve got to admit that when it comes to tender beefiness, short ribs rock the house; and who are you calling short?

When I was a kid my grandmother used to serve some Jewish dish called flanken, which I wasn’t a big fan of.  Guess what kind of meat flanken is (although cut differently)?  Well no gold star for you, that was a gimme.

My friend Frank (you remember Frank, you’ve met him in the great gravy throwdown and in the BBQ sauce post) has been perfecting his short rib recipe over the last few months and Nicole and I have been the lucky guinea pigs for many of his trial runs.  Well this week we didn’t use Frank’s training wheels and decided to make it all by ourselves…and for that, we get the gold star!

I’ll warn you before embarking on this journey, it’s not hard making short ribs, but it does take time.  Most of the time is spent braising the ribs in the oven while you can be polishing off the wine or taking a snooze, but it ain’t a meal you make when you get home from work.

Also, you don’t have to make polenta if its not your thing.  You can put those ribs over mashed taters or into a shoe and they would still be damn good.

Ingredients for Frank’s short rib extravaganza

Serves 4 people who will be really happy with you

Short ribs

  • 8-10 beef short ribs
  • 1/2 pound pancetta, cut into large cubes
  • 4 carrots, diced
  • 3 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3-4 shallots, diced
  • 2 cups red wine.  Make it something you’d drink, as you’ll need to finish whats left in the bottle.
  • 3 cups beef broth.  Against my popular belief that premade broth sucks, I use a box of Kitchen Basics brand.
  • 1 sprig of rosemary (vile weed that it is)
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 6 oz tomato paste
  • Olive oil
  • Flour
  • Lemon (optional)
  • Kosher salt and pepper

Mushroom polenta

  • 1/2 pound of shiitake mushrooms
  • 1/2 pound of cremini or white button mushrooms
  • handful of dried porcini mushrooms
  • Little bit of butter or olive oil
  • 1 box of polenta.  Sacre bleu, I haven’t graduated to using pure corn meal, I still use the instant boxed stuff.  Oh the shame.


  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Pick a big dutch oven that can fit all of your ribs.  I made a double recipe, and needed to buy a new pot to hold everything.  9 quarts, yeah dog.
  • On medium heat, render out the fat from the pancetta and cook until crispy.

  • While the pancetta is slowly cooking, liberally salt and pepper each rib and dredge in flour

  • Remove the crisped pancetta and place onto paper towels, leaving all the good pork fat it left behind.
  • Crank up the oven to high and brown the ribs in the pork fat, about 30-45 seconds per side.  You will need to make an assembly line to not overcrowd the pot:

(yes, I desperately need to finish my backsplash).

  • After all the ribs have been browned and removed, add a little olive oil to the pot and saute the carrots, onions, celery and shallots until translucent.
  • Add the wine and bring to a boil.  Leave it boiling for a few minutes to get out some of the alcohol.  Now is a good time to drink some of the wine you didn’t use.  Is there ever a bad time to do that?
  • Add the beef broth, tomato paste, herbs, the ribs and the crunchy pancetta back into the pot.  You didn’t eat all the pancetta when no one was looking, did you?

  • Cover and place into oven for 2 hours
  • Lower oven to 325 and cook for another 45 minutes
  • Move pot to stovetop
  • Remove some of the gravy and skim the fat from it.  Add to separate pot and reduce the gravy until a little thick.  Keep tasting it and add a little salt and pepper if necessary.  If it doesn’t taste bright enough, add a little squeeze of lemon juice.
  • While reducing the sauce, let the meat rest for 20 minutes, meanwhile you can start your polenta


  • Heat up a cup or two of water to the boil and pour into heat proof container with the dried porcini mushrooms in it. Let steep for 5 or 10 minutes.
  • After 10 minutes, strain liquid through a coffee filter to get out any sediment, make sure you save the mushroom juice!
  • Slice all the mushrooms
  • In pot large enough for the polenta, heat up a little butter and saute the mushrooms until they have given up their liquid and start to dry out
  • Follow the directions on the box for the polenta using some of the mushroom liquid in place of water


Do I really need to tell you this?  Well, just in case…

  • Take a scoop or two of polenta
  • Add two ribs right in the middle of it.  Watch out, most of them won’t want to stay on the bone.
  • Take a scoop of the carrots, onions and most importantly pancetta mix and dance around (or put some on top, your call)
  • Add a little extra sauce and a sprig of parsley, thyme or astroturf to relieve your eyes from all the brown-ness.

Enjoy.  If you make it and like it, drop us a note to thank Frank for his recipe!  I know we have.