Adapted from The Kitchen Detective: A Culinary Sleuth Solves Common Cooking Mysteries with 150 Foolproof Recipes by Christopher Kimball, (Boston Common Press, 2003).
Serves 6 to 8
Yes, this is not a quick dinner, but it can be made a day ahead of time, which is perfect for entertaining. During chilling, the fat will rise to the top of the sauce and solidify, making it very easy to remove. If you use canned chicken broth, choose a low-sodium brand. Serve with mashed potatoes.
1. Heat the oil in a large heavy-duty skillet over medium-high heat. Adjust an oven rack to the center position and heat the oven to 300 degrees. Liberally season the short ribs with salt and pepper. When the oil just starts to smoke, brown half of the meat until deeply colored on all sides, using tongs to lean the ribs against each other for balance. Transfer the ribs to a Dutch oven. Repeat the process with the second half of the meat.
2. Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the skillet and lower the heat to medium. Add the onions, carrots, and shallots. Sauté until soft and the onions and shallot become translucent, 6 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook an additional minute. Stir in the flour until well combined, about 1 minute more. Add 3 1/2 cups of the wine to the pan and bring to a simmer, scraping up any browned bits remaining at the bottom of the pan.
3. Add the contents of the skillet to the Dutch oven, along with the port, chicken stock, parsley, thyme, rosemary, bay leaves, and tomato paste. Set the Dutch oven over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Cover and set the pot in the oven. Cook until the meat is fork-tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.
4. Remove the Dutch oven from the oven. Using tongs, transfer the ribs to a large plate, removing excess vegetables and herbs that may cling to the meat. Discard any loose bones that may have fallen away from the meat. Strain the braising liquid through a large sieve into a bowl, pressing out the liquid from the solids. Cover the ribs and liquid separately with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. (If serving the ribs the same day, place the liquid in a glass bowl or large measuring cup and spoon off excess fat. It is best to let the liquid rest for at least 30 minutes to allow most of the fat to rise to the surface.)
5. Spoon off and discard the solidified fat from the braising liquid. Add the liquid to the clean Dutch oven and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Briskly simmer until the sauce is reduced to the consistency of heavy cream, 5 to 10 minutes. Add the remaining 1/2 cup wine and the reserved ribs to the pot. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook until the meat is heated through, about 10 minutes. Serve immediately, with or without chopped fresh parsley.
"My mother taught me that food was fuel," says writer Elissa Altman. "That food was dangerous. That food was the enemy." As Altman's mother grows older, Altman is finding it difficult to get her to eat.