Cola-Braised Short Ribs with Risotto

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Adding cola to the braising liquid gives these classic wine-braised short ribs a layer of sweet complexity.

Cola-Braised Short Ribs with Parmigiano Risotto
Photo:

Frederick Hardy II / Food Styling by Torie Cox / Prop Styling by Claire Spollen

Active Time:
1 hrs 15 mins
Total Time:
4 hrs
Servings:
4 servings

If you love the television show The Bear as much as we do, it’s likely you were also excited about the short ribs Sydney works on perfecting during the entire first season of the show. On television and in real life, nothing is cozier than a Dutch oven filled with braised, fall-off-the-bone tender short ribs served over risotto. Here, per Sydney’s creativity, the classic wine and stock braising liquid get a surprising addition from cola, which balances the savory with a touch of complex sweetness to create a smooth, rich sauce. 

Short ribs are a fantastic weekend project. Most of the work occurs in the front end as you set up the ribs to braise. To make these short ribs, you sear the meat in an oven-safe pot before building the braising liquid with onion, carrots, celery, garlic, tomato paste, cola, stock, and red wine. The magic happens as the short ribs braise — the liquid, time, and heat break down the tough tissue of the short ribs to transform the meat into a succulent and tender meal.

When making these short ribs, don’t forget to plan for an overnight cooling period. This is to allow the fat to solidify on top of the braise so you can easily spoon it off, as well as to let the flavors meld. The liquid is then rewarmed and reduced until thickened, then finished with butter and sherry vinegar, which amplifies the richness while adding a subtle sharpness. You might be able to skip the overnight cooling step by skimming the fat off the top after the meat is done cooking, but you likely won’t be able to remove as much of the fat.

This recipe pairs the short ribs with a creamy Parmesan risotto. Serve the short ribs on top of the risotto and pour some of the velvety braising liquid on top. It’s cozy enough for a winter weekend inside and elegant enough to serve guests.

Ingredients

Cola-Braised Short Ribs

  • 4 pounds beef short ribs (about 8 to 10 short ribs)

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste

  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 medium (10 ounce) yellow onion, chopped (about 2 cups)

  • 4 medium (10 ounces total) carrots, peeled and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)

  • 4 medium (4 ounces total) celery stalks, halved lengthwise and chopped crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)

  • 6 medium garlic cloves, finely chopped (2 tablespoons)

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted tomato paste

  • 2 cups dry red wine

  • 2 cups cola soft drink (such as Coke)

  • 2 cups unsalted beef stock

  • 8 (4-inch) thyme sprigs, plus more leaves for garnish

  • 4 (6-inch) parsley sprigs

  • 5 fresh bay leaves

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter

  • 2 teaspoons aged sherry vinegar

Parmigiano Risotto

  • 8 cups vegetable broth (such as Zoup!)

  • 8 tablespoons (4 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces and refrigerated, divided

  • 2 medium (3 ounces total) shallots, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)

  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked Arborio rice or carnaroli rice (about 10 1/4 ounces) 

  • 1/2 cup dry white wine

  • 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 4 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, grated (about 1 cup)

Directions

Prepare the Cola-Braised Short Ribs:

  1. Remove short ribs from refrigerator 30 minutes before preparing. Preheat oven to 325°F. Pat short ribs dry using paper towels, and sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high. Working in 2 batches, if necessary, add short ribs, and cook until browned on all sides, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a large plate or bowl, reserving drippings in Dutch oven; set short ribs aside.

  2. Add onion, carrots, and celery to drippings in Dutch oven; cook over medium, stirring occasionally, until vegetables start to soften, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and tomato paste; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant and tomato paste evenly coats vegetables, 1 to 2 minutes. Add red wine; bring to a boil over medium-high. Boil, stirring occasionally, until mixture starts to thicken slightly and the smell of alcohol from wine is still present but no longer very pungent, 2 to 3 minutes. Add cola and beef stock; bring to a boil over medium-high. Reduce heat to medium-low, and nestle short ribs back into Dutch oven. Tie together thyme and parsley sprigs using kitchen twine, and nestle into cola mixture; add bay leaves. Cover and bake in preheated oven for 2 hours.

  3. Uncover Dutch oven, and continue cooking, undisturbed, until sauce starts to thicken and reduce and short ribs are very tender when pierced using a fork, about 45 minutes. Remove from oven, and skim fat from top; discard fat. (At this point, short ribs and cola mixture may be refrigerated overnight. Once refrigerated, spoon off solidified fat from top, and discard.)

  4. Transfer short ribs to a large bowl. Place Dutch oven over medium heat; cook, stirring occasionally, until liquid is thickened and reduced enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in butter and sherry vinegar. Season with salt to taste. Return short ribs to Dutch oven; cover and keep warm. (To reheat, place Dutch oven over low; heat, covered, 5 minutes before risotto is finished cooking.)

Prepare the Parmigiano Risotto:

  1. Bring vegetable broth to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high. Reduce heat to medium, and maintain a simmer. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high. Place remaining butter back in refrigerator. Add shallots to melted butter in skillet, and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add rice, and cook, stirring constantly, until rice is hot and well coated in butter, about 2 minutes. Add wine and salt, and cook until wine is almost completely evaporated and absorbed, about 1 minute. Ladle about 1 cup simmering broth over rice until just covered. Cook, stirring occasionally, until rice absorbs most of broth. Continue adding broth, 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup at a time (about 8 to 10 times), stirring occasionally, until nearly absorbed between additions; cook until al dente, about 16 minutes total. Once rice is al dente, add about 3/4 cup broth (you may not use all of broth; save remaining broth for another use), and continue cooking until just past al dente (rice will be tender but still have some slight resistance), 1 minute, 30 seconds. Immediately remove from heat, and add Parmigiano-Reggiano and remaining 6 tablespoons cold butter. Stir until butter is completely melted and risotto is thick and smooth but still slightly runny. Transfer to a large bowl or individual plates, and top evenly with short ribs and desired amount of cola sauce. Garnish with thyme leaves; serve immediately.

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