Short Ribs in a Dark Sauce

from Executive Sous Chef Rick Avery of Restaurant O in Campbell, California

Feb 2004 - When I saw this recipe in the Merc, I knew I had to try it. She doesn't like to mix fruit and meat, or sweet and savory, so I thought I'd have to sneak it in somehow. With Richard and Pat coming over for dinner Saturday, I had my opening. This was another fantastic find by the Merc. It is easy to prepare, even though the cooking takes some time. She enjoyed it immensely, and now I have the go-ahead to try more like it.

I think I overdid the cacao powder; next time I'll measure it to be sure. I'd also like to try the addition of one chipotle pepper to the sauce for some welcome heat. It might seem like a mole then.

We served it with broccoli and new red potatoes. Starchier potatoes would have been better; they soak up more of the sauce. The wine was a Carignan from Ridge. Never heard of it before, but it has a bold, clean, fruity taste that went sooooo well with the beef.


November 2007 - Brent was in town and we tried this again. It was killer. I can't say enough about how good it tasted. I cooked the meat and the sauce ahead of time. Then the final step took just ten minutes to bring this all together. We served it with mashed russet potatoes and green beans. Paired with a Silver Creek zinfandel, it was the perfect meal.

September 2008 - I was staying in Pacifica with Mom while Dad recovered and we needed to eat. We made this together and she loved it. We ate the ribs one night, the soup the next day for lunch, and ribs the next night. There was even some left over for Bob. Delicious. Now, will Lindy like it?

Time: Active for 30 minutes, cook 2 hours. Can be prepared ahead and finished 10 minutes before service.
Difficulty: Easy
Serves: 6


A. beef short ribs  3 pounds Ask your butcher to cut them into 0.5 inch pieces.
kosher salt    
vegetable oil 4 tablespoons  

Generously salt the ribs on all sides.

In a heavy large pot heat the olive oil over medium high. Add the short ribs and brown them on all sides. If your pot is too small, then brown them in batches. Get them good and browned - this adds a lot of flavor, so don't quit too soon. 

B. red wine 1 cup I have used both pinot noir and zinfandel to great satisfaction.
yellow onion 1 medium Cut into chunks.
  garlic 1 clove Minced
  tomato paste 2 ounces  
  thyme, fresh 1 sprig  
  bay leaves 3 leaves  
chicken stock 1 quart  

Remove the ribs and deglaze the pan with the red wine.

Put the ribs back and add these ingredients. The liquid should just come almost to the top of the ribs, but should not cover them completely.

Bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and cook covered 2 hours.

The ribs should be very tender. When the ribs are done, remove them from the pot and discard the broth. (Or, cool it for a later soup; if you do, remember to remove the fat.)

Remove the meat from the ribs and cut it into good serving size pieces.

You can refrigerate the meat at this point for several hours.

C. blood orange juice 1 cup  
sherry 0.5 cup  
shallots 0.25 cup (about 2) Diced.
  salt 0.5 teaspoon  
  white pepper 0.5 teaspoon
  sugar 0.25 cup  
  unsweetened cocoa powder 2 tablespoons  
  beef broth 2 cups  

While the meat cooks you can make up the sauce.

Put all the ingredients in a pan and bring to a boil. Use a whisk to distribute the cacao powder.

Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until the sauce is reduced by half. It takes about 30 minutes.

At this point you can refrigerate the sauce for a few hours.

D. Final Assembly: 10 minutes  
  Ribs from step B.  
Sauce from step C.  
unsalted butter 2 tablespoons  

Put the meat in a deep sauté pan. Pour the sauce over it until half covered. Warm remaining sauce in a pan.

Bring the rib and sauce mixture to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Keep simmering, turning the ribs every minute or so. This will infuse the meat with the sauce. 

When the sauce has reduced to about 20% of its volume, add the butter.

Place one serving of meat on each plate and spoon some sauce over each one.