Braised Beef Short Ribs


I am finally going to acknowledge that winter is here!

I have been overly optimistic in thinking that maybe it will not be a cold winter, and maybe it will go by quickly. I even bought a light weight winter coat thinking I would be the stylish one on the subway filled with a sea of down coats and Canada Goose jackets. Well, last night I bit the bullet and bought a warmer coat.

Today I am walking around in my new toasty down filled jacket with a big smile on my face. There are giant snowflakes fluttering in the evening sky and I am smiling. The wind chill factor is well below freezing, but I am still smiling.

Since I am admitting that it is winter, I might as well feature a hearty winter recipe. These braised short ribs take a while to slowly cook but they are well worth the wait. The meat is so tender it falls off of the bones and the flavours are rich and satisfying.

I found the recipe on the website which was created by Chuck Hughes, a great Canadian chef from Montreal. It has a little different style from most braised short rib recipes with the addition of cocoa and cinnamon. The result is darker and richer in flavour so I served the ribs with a full-bodied red Valpolicella wine from the Verona region of Italy.

It was a match made in heaven!


Braised Beef Short Ribs

Makes 4-6 servings

2 large onions, roughly chopped
3 – 4 stalks celery, roughly chopped
4 large carrots, peeled, trimmed and chopped in 2 inch chunks
3 cloves garlic, peeled and cut in half
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
2 sprigs fresh thyme
1 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
2 tbsp. canola oil
6 beef short ribs (about 3 inches long)
1 cup flour
1 750 mL bottles full-bodied red wine
2 tbsp. cocoa powder
1 cup brown sugar
Handful peppercorns
A generous pinch coarse salt
Black pepper, freshly ground


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. (177 C)
Prepare all vegetables and place in large bowl. Add herbs and spices, set aside.
Cut ribs between the bones, and trim all excess outer fat.
Season ribs well with coarse salt. Dredge in flour till well coated.
In a large Dutch oven or wide soup pot, pour in oil to coat bottom of pan. On high heat, sear the ribs so they are browned well on all sides (about 3 min per side). Set aside.


In same pan, transfer all vegetables from the bowl, and stir to caramelize and pick up all the brown bits.
Add meat back into pot. Pour wine over. Ensure all is covered and if not, top up with water.
Sprinkle on cocoa powder and brown sugar, bring to a boil, cover with a lid or foil, and place in oven till meat is fork tender. (About 3 hours)
Remove ribs to a platter and strain out the solids to use for something else.
Boil the cooking liquid in a wide shallow pan till it is reduced by half. It will be richer, more flavourful and thicker. Add a nub of butter at the end for sheen and flavour.

Recipe adapted from Hughes


Toronto’s Danforth community supports the Thrill of the Grill

On Saturday July 21 Toronto’s Danforth community held a rib competition to raise money for Cancer research at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. Six of the local restaurants set up grills and set out to grill “The Best Rack on the Danforth”. The restaurants competing for this coveted honour included Globe Bistro, The Combine Eatery, Allen’s, Factory Girl, 7 numbers and Silk Road.

Over 1,000 people purchased tickets to the afternoon event and dutifully lined up at each station to try one rib and some coleslaw from each. After tasting the six different rib combos they voted for their favourites. In addition there was a panel of celebrity judges lead by Chef Lynn Crawford including Josh Rubin, writer for the Toronto Star, Kris Reyes & Dave Gerry, The Morning Show at Global Toronto (a division of Shaw Media), Graham Duncan of NOW Magazine, and Dr. Georg Bjarnason of the Odette Cancer Centre at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.

We set out early to try the offerings and were not disappointed. Each chef created a rib recipe that reflected the style of cooking at their restaurant so the flavours were as diverse as the neighbourhood.

7 numbers prepared their ribs in a traditional style. They were boiled and then grilled to add flavour resulting in a tender meat that fell off of the bone. Silk Road added an Asian flair to their ribs and a hint of sesame oil to the coleslaw. Factory Girl created a combo that held a deep tomato sauce to its grilled ribs for a pub style combo. Globe Bistro added a rich deep flavour by rubbing the ribs with a smoky, spiced rub before grilling. Allen’s cooked their ribs with a Bar BQ sauce that most of us would have made at home. The Combine Eatery created a slightly spicy sauce that was not only dynamic but also rich and flavourful. We voted these the best of the bunch.

The crowd voted for the tried and true Bar BQ ribs from Allen’s but the judges voted for Factory Girl’s pub style ribs.

In addition to the rib tasting there was free water, Steam Whistle Beer and Gnarly Head wines from California for tasting.

We had our fill of great food and wine tasting and headed home. We decided that it was a delicious and entertaining way to spend a Saturday afternoon and look forward to the next charity cook off.