Short Ribs with Brown Ale and Buckwheat Honey

short ribs with polenta

Today is one of those dismal grey days, where it can’t quite decide if it will rain or just spit at you! The temperature has begun to drop and this makes me want soups and stews – those deep, rich blends that get better when made ahead and that will last me throughout the week. Today I’m trying a recipe from the Food 52 blog that Frances introduced me to. Of course, I have to put my own spin on it, so here is my version. The whole house will just smell wonderful. It calls for buckwheat honey and you really shouldn’t substitute that. Buckwheat honey has a very rich, earthy, distinctive flavor that will perfectly compliment the brown ale and stone ground mustard. If you can’t find it in your store, then you can always get it online where I get so many things – Amazon. I also use it when I am baking my vegan challah. It lends a richness and color to the challah that would otherwise be missing because I am not using eggs.

Short Ribs with Brown Ale and Buckwheat Honey – adapted from Merrill Stubbs

Yield: 6-8 servings


2 Tablespoons Olive Oil or Grapeseed Oil

5 pounds of meaty shorty ribs (ask your butcher to cut eat rib into 2 pieces, with some pieces on the bone and some not)

Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper

1 very large onion, chopped

6-8 cloves of garlic, minced

3 generous Tablespoons stone-ground mustard

1/3 cup buckwheat honey

18 ounces good quality brown ale (I just went to my local liquor store and chose a bottle that had notes that sounded good to me and was within my budget)

1 bay leaf (fresh if possible, but dried is fine)

3 large carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds about 1/4 inch thick

1 very large or 2 smaller parsnips, peeled and sliced into rounds or half moons depending on the circumference

2-3 Tablespoons flat-leaf parsley for garnish


  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Put the oil in a 7 quart heavy Dutch oven over medium heat. Season the ribs generously with the salt and pepper and brown them on all sides. Don’t crowd the pan or the pieces won’t brown properly. I did this in three batches, placing the finished pieces on a platter.
  2. After you have removed the short ribs from the Dutch oven, see how much fat is left in the bottom of the pan. Don’t worry about any brown bits – they will be dealt with, I promise! My ribs actually had very little fat, so I didn’t need to pour any off. You want to end up with 2-3 Tablespoons of fat/oil in the Dutch oven. Then add the onoin and garlic and stir until softened and it begins to carmelize. Use a wooden spoon and scrape up the brown bits as you go. This should take about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the mustard, honey, brown ale and bay leaf. Return the meat to the pan and make sure that the sauce coats the meat.
  4. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cover the pan tightly. Place in the oven for 1.5 hours. Then add in the carrots and parsnip and cook for another hour.
  5. If you want a thicker sauce, you can remove the ribs and veggies with a slotted spoon. Skim as much fat as possible (If you make this ahead and can refrigerate it, skimming the fat becomes a cinch. If not, it’s still not that hard.) Reduce the sauce by simmering it until it reduces to the desired thickness. Adjust any seasoning, adding more salt and pepper if you like. Add the meat and veggies back and spoon the sauce over the top. Serve it with mashed potatoes, noodles or polenta and garnish with some chopped parsley. A green salad and an apple tart and this is a dish fit for friends and family.

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