ok show of hands, how many of you did your homework and pickled rhubarb last weekend? it's ok if you totally slacked, this short rib recipe actually tastes its best when you take the full 48 hours to make it, which, coincidentally is the minimum amount of time that you want to have your pickles go for. so get started today for a badass supper on sunday. or! spend a week mentally preparing and then go for it, just in time for father's day. cause dad's love meat!!!! and if your dad is anything like my dad he also un-ironically likes the color of rhubarb (pink).
pops, why are you wearing a pink shirt??
pops: pink is my favorite color!
pops, why is your collar popped?
pops: it keeps my neck warm!
…was a real conversation that we had in the early 2000s, right around a time when pink popped collars were making their rounds in the preppy crowds of suburban american high schools. but pops doesn’t have an eye on trends, he’s just logical in his fashion choices and undoubtedly literally thought, “pink’s nice, warm necks are also nice, ok time to start my day!” before he cleared his entire wardrobe to make way for 70 different bernie sanders t-shirts, he had a large quantity of ahead-of-his-time millennial pink garments.
so my dad likes pink! which is part of my explanation for when you ask why we're sprinkling our father's day meat with hot pink pickles. the other part is that we have shit tons of rhubarb and rhubarb with short ribs, it turns out, is the chrissy teigen and john legend of braised meat land.
this recipe is heavily inspired by the pomegranate molasses braised lamb that i just about died over at zahav last month. they're a multi day production where you cure, braise, rest, reheat, inhale, exhale, and the only smells that really come close to as good all are freshly baked challah and santal 26. these short ribs pull sweet and sourness from a sticky rhubarb jam situation and then get some additional sweetness from their bed of onions that over time get caramelized down to almost an onion jam. the amount of flavor is a lil absurd. to the point where i had to actually pump the breaks a bit with the braising liquid by watering down my chicken stock. but paired with crispy persian rice and a bright pink sour rhubarb pickle, you basically have a perfect dinner. it's actually the dinner i had on my birthday right before eggboy’s cake!
i've done all this with bone-in and boneless short ribs. boneless was easy to pick up in town, while bone-in i had to call around about and then special order which yielded some gnarly grocery store phone holding music. i didn't necessarily find that the flavor (in this recipe at least) was sacrificed by having boneless, so i'll say that you should go with whatever route you'd like since i'm already asking a lot of you by requiring 48 hours for this thing.
the tahdig (crispy persian rice) is a great companion to this!! if you’ve never had it, there are great directions here. it’s just really delicious good rice with a crispy saffrony shell that, when all mixed up with short rib juices, adds some nice texture to the perfect bite. (i made minis in little cocottes and simply cut the cooking times down by a few minutes.) we also had these short ribs in tortillas one night with fresh herbs and a pile of pickled shredded carrots and it was mad good too. you really can’t go wrong. at all. which is what i like about short ribs. they taste so good even if you’re out of shape in the meat department and have to google dumb things like how to cut them.
rhubarb short ribs
1/2 c + 2 tb (125g) sugar
1 tsp fennel seeds
1/2 tsp ground allspice
5 pounds bone-in short ribs or 4-4 1/2 pounds boneless short ribs
4 c (500g) rhubarb, chopped and divided
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 large yellow onions, thinly sliced
1 head of garlic, peeled, cloves smashed
2 tb olive oil
about 2-3 c chicken stock
about 2-3 c water
day one: in a small bowl combine 2 tb salt, 2 tb sugar, the fennel, allspice, and a bunch of turns of pepper. rub it all over the short ribs and place them in a big pan. cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
make the rhubarb sauce (this can be made on day 1 or day 2): combine 2 c (250g) of the chopped rhubarb, the remaining 1/2 c (100g) sugar, and a good pinch of salt in a saucepan and heat over medium high heat, stirring often. when the rhubarb softens and collapses into a purée, reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring often, until it reduces to 2/3 c (200g). this should take around 25-35 minutes. stir in the lemon juice, let cool, cover, and refrigerate until further notice.
day two: preheat the oven to 475ºf. place the onions, garlic, and remaining 2c (250g) chopped rhubarb in a roasting pan and toss with the olive oil. if you’re using the same roasting pan that you cured the short ribs in, give the pan a little rinse first to get rid of any excess salt. place the short ribs on top of the onion mixture and roast uncovered for 20 minutes, until browned.
take it out of the oven and reduce the oven’s heat to 325ºf. pour in the rhubarb sauce and then add the stock and water until it comes halfway up on the short ribs. i do this by pouring in one cup of stock, and then one cup of water, and then another cup of stock, and another cup of water, etc., and stopping once i reach the halfway mark. (you could also just dilute your stock before pouring it in but then you run the risk of having leftover diluted stock.) cover with foil and then bake for 5-6 hours, until the meat is very soft and falls off the bone (if you're going with boneless use your imagination to imagine if they would fall off the bone or not). taste it, add more salt if you feel like it needs it. at this point you *could* give in and eat it, but it’ll be better if you let it sit over night. so let it cool, cover it, and stick it in the fridge.
(oh also on day two, you can get your tahdig rice soaking)
day three: preheat the oven to 350ºf. scrape off the layer of fat that’s accumulated on your short ribs and discard it. cover the pan and bake for 30 minutes, or until heated through.
make your tahdig.
slice your pickled rhubarb.
slice and serve your short ribs, spooning some of the juices on top. top with pickled rhubarb (and fresh herbs for greenery if you'd like), serve with tahdig!
leftovers can be frozen!