Beef Ribs and Pinot

by Janie Master

It’s the first blizzard/gargantuan storm of the year here just north of Boston.  Memories of 9ft of snow a couple of years back come flooding unwanted into one’s brain.  Mel and I have an emergency code. Mel checks generator for gas and then checks if its working. Then Mel starts snow blower (with difficulty and many swear words in Swahili). It makes filthy noise for 5 minutes as he checks if its all toodely pip.  Mel  staggers in with logs he cut (oh I do ADORE my autumn lumberjack husband) and fills up the log basket by fireplace.

Janie cooks!  Here is the very first well remembered and time tested recipe I fall back on.  It can also be done with oxtail or beef cheeks (if you’re lucky enough to corner a butcher with a grass-fed supply of Angus ‘beef machine’ cattle).

Beef Ribs and Pinot

Serves 4 – 6 frozen souls.


  • 3 lbs English cut short ribs seasoned liberally only with freshly ground black pepper (no salt – I’m saving your arteries here OK?)
  • 1 – 2 bottles full bodied red wine. Be sure it is a drinkable wine! Never use bad wines with which to cook!
  • 2 tbs rendered beef fat (bacon fat, olive oil or unsalted butter will do)
  • 6 shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic roughly chopped
  • 3 cups beef or vegetable stock


Brown beef ribs well all over in fat or oil in non-stick or cast-iron fry pan.  Set aside with slotted spoon into bowl.  Pour left over fat from ribs into casserole or non-stick pot and add garlic and shallots and simmer ‘gently’ until golden brown but not burnt. Add red wine, turn up heat and reduce by half.  Place ribs side by side  into a deep roasting pan and pour over wine reduction and add the stock. Cover with aluminum foil and braise in 325F oven for 3 hours.

You can cool and freeze the ribs here if you want to have a splendiferous warm dinner dish another day.

Otherwise cool overnight and remove cold fat off top of ribs (I’m taking care of your heart here! you can keep fat in freezer for flavoring veges or pasta).  Heat them up in a casserole dish (I add a splash or two of brandy or Bourbon)

Serve with unpeeled mashed potato (use olive oil, a little of the potato water, nutmeg and black pepper to season) on the side and scatter with finely sliced Belgian endive or radicchio (sweet beef – sour garnish).

Accompany with either Tortoise Creek Pinot Noir from California or Le Charmel Pinot Noir from France or if unable to find these fantastic wines, then something similar that you love!