So, here’s the long and short of it. I am short rib obsessed. There is something about this underrated cut of beef that I love. It is incredibly versatile, and I use it for everything from burgers to a center of the plate entrée like this Jacked Up Short Ribs.
Although I had cooked beef short ribs for years, I had never really viewed it as upscale. That is until I visited Alessandro Stratta’s restaurant Renoir in Las Vegas some years ago. His short ribs were braised in red wine sweetened with lavender honey and deglazed with sherry vinegar. The resulting beef-eating experience was a stark departure from any I’d ever experienced before. Sticky sweet, but with dark, rich beef flavor. With that dish, he single-handedly elevated short ribs to stratospheric heights on the national scene and has been copied by chefs across the country.
Not only have short ribs become an incredibly succulent restaurant entrée, but there is another overriding reason for its popularity on menus of all kinds–it’s cheap. The food cost is minimal for a beef entrée, and when adding a luscious sauce, this dish commands top dollar. Michelin-rated restaurants in New York, Chicago and San Francisco have all embraced this simple cut with their own amazing versions of Chef Stratta’s recipe.
With my Jacked Up Short Ribs recipe, I’ve done a Southern take on short ribs with a whiskey-infused sauce and a spicy addition of Cajun seasonings and green chile tomatoes. There are many wine-based versions of this dish, but I like the fun and funk of this “jacked up” one. With the addition of Jack Daniels whiskey, the resulting sauce has a smoky, oak barrel roundness that works perfectly with the beef. The tomato undertone turns this sauce an earthy, brick red with an acidic bite that delivers a Louisiana Creole punch. While these Jacked Up Short Ribs are not a timid Cajun recipe, it is a simple dish and very forgiving on the measurements as well as the cooking time–the longer the braise, the better.
- 8 meaty beef short ribs
- ½ cup Acadiana Table Cajun Seasoning Blend, see recipe here
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- ¼ cup vegetable oil
- 1 cup diced yellow onion
- 1 cup diced celery
- 1 cup diced green bell pepper
- 1 carrot, diced
- 2 cups sliced baby portobello mushrooms
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup Jack Daniel’s whiskey
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 (10-ounce) can mild diced tomatoes and green chiles, drained, such as Rotel
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 cups beef stock
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, stems removed and chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 cup diced green onion tops
- Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
- Sprinkle the short ribs lightly with Cajun seasoning making sure to coat all sides. In a large mixing bowl, add the flour and stir in the remaining Cajun seasoning. Add the short ribs and coat with flour.
- In a cast-iron pot with a heavy lid on high heat, add the vegetable oil. Once the oil is smoking turn the heat to medium, add the short ribs and sauté the meat on all sides. Once they are completely browned move them to a platter and set aside.
- Immediately add the onions, celery, bell pepper, carrots, and mushrooms to the pot and lower the heat to low. Saute them slowly until the onions just begin to brown and then add the garlic. Stir constantly and make sure the garlic does not burn.
- Keep sautéing until the onions begin to caramelize and then carefully add the whiskey to deglaze. Scrape the bottom of the pot but be careful since the alcohol might ignite — it will subside once burned off.
- While the whiskey is cooking down add the sugar, Rotel, tomato paste, beef stock, chopped rosemary, bay leaves, and a pinch of salt and a grind of black pepper.
- Cover the pot and lower the heat to a simmer. Let it braise on the stovetop for 30 minutes and then place in the hot oven for 1 hour.
- Remove from the oven and uncover. Check to see that the short ribs are fork tender. If so, place them on a serving platter.
- Remove the vegetables and bay leaves from the sauce, reserving the mushrooms. With a large spoon, skim any fat from the top of the remaining liquid. On the stovetop, cook down the remaining sauce to achieve the desired gravy thickness. If needed, mix cornstarch and water to make a slurry and add to the pot. Adjust with more beef stock to thin it out.
- Return the short ribs and the mushrooms to the sauce and move the cast-iron pot to the center of the table for family-style serving. Garnish with green onion tops. In the down-home Louisiana tradition, I like to serve these short ribs with steamed long-grain white rice, but a more elegant presentation might be with mashed potatoes. I’ve even laced my potatoes with horseradish (or wasabi) for an unexpected twist that goes perfectly with the rich, beefy sauce. And for sure, have plenty of crusty French bread and a big, bold Cabernet to accompany this impressive dish.
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