The Game-Changing Ingredients For Better Red Wine Braised Short Ribs

Fall is right around the corner and that means it's time for warm, comforting, stick-to-your-ribs food, including hearty stews and braised beef. Short ribs are quintessential comfort food, especially when it has been braised until it is fork-tender. Not only are braised short ribs delicious, but when cooked correctly, they can impress a crowd. It's one of those dishes that looks extremely complicated but can easily be made in a home cook's kitchen.

One of the most classic ways to cook short ribs is to braise the meat in red wine. The red wine tenderizes the beef, while also imparting a deep, rich flavor. Most red wines work well, as long as the wine is not too sweet. The general rule is you should cook with a wine that you would want to drink on its own. While wine brings out a luscious flavor, recipe tester Michelle McGlinn adds a few special ingredients that take short ribs to the next level.

Use spice for the perfect balance

Michelle McGlinn's recipe for Red Wine-Braised Beef Short Ribs has the usual suspects for a braised recipe. She uses beef broth, tomato paste, red wine, fresh thyme and rosemary, garlic, and onion. McGlinn's special twist is adding chile de Arbol and cinnamon bark to the braising liquid. McGlinn explains that the heat from the chiles and the cinnamon help to balance the richness and acidity of the tomato paste and red wine. The beef is also extremely fatty and rich, so the heat from the spices helps to cut through some of the bold flavors.

Chiles de Arbol are dried chiles that are sold in large bags in the supermarket. The chiles naturally rehydrate when placed in the braising liquid. Only two chiles are needed to spice up the McGlinn's dish and the recipe also calls for three pieces of cinnamon bark, aka cassia to add another layer of flavor. Cinnamon bark or cinnamon sticks add a sweet and slightly spicy flavor that pairs well with the stewed beef.

Once the beef has cooked in the oven, the braised sauce needs to be spooned over the cooked beef. McGlinn recommends serving the beef atop mashed potatoes to soak up the delicious liquid.