Hearty stews are always excellent for bulk cooking, as they reheat very well and often improve in flavour. Beef short ribs are one of the most flavoursome and unctuous meat cuts you can buy. Slow cooked for hours, they give you lusciously melting meat, falling away from the bone, and a rich sauce packed with savoury flavour. They’re often very good value, too.
This dish sees beef ribs cooked to the point of collapse in a dark, rich sauce, fragrant with lemongrass, zesty kaffir lime leaves, the fresh bite of star anise and the salty tang of soy sauce. The aromatic Asian ingredients prevent the sauce from cloying, but it’s still gloriously rich and sticky, coating the melting meat and begging for a blanket of sticky rice to soak it up. I like to serve it with lots of rice, some stir-fried greens, and a scattering of Thai basil or coriander leaves for colour and freshness. Lime wedges to squeeze over are essential.
The great thing about this dish is its versatility and practicality. After a little prep, it sits in the oven for hours leaving you to get on with other things. You can even start it in the morning and leave it in there all day, to be ready by dinnertime. It can easily be doubled or even trebled to make larger quantities. The meat can be taken off the bone and shredded, and then you have another meal possibility: try stuffing the leftover shredded meat with a little sauce into steamed buns or even brioche burger buns, to serve with a zesty Asian-style slaw. The meat and sauce freeze very well, so you can make this in bulk for an almost-instant dinner that will outshine anything you can get at the supermarket.
400g banana shallots
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp rapeseed or vegetable oil
1kg beef short ribs
3 garlic cloves
30g fresh ginger
2 star anise
1 stalk lemongrass
3 kaffir lime leaves, torn in half
3 tbsp soy sauce
500ml beef or chicken stock
Juice of 1 lime
1 mild red chilli, deseeded and sliced
Lime wedges, to serve
Fresh Thai basil or coriander, to serve
Set Oven Temp: 150C/130C Fan/Gas Mark 2
Pre-heat the oven to 130C. Peel the shallots and halve them horizontally. Set aside.
Season the beef ribs with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large oven-proof casserole dish with a lid. Brown the beef ribs over a high heat on all sides (you may need to do this in batches depending on the size of your pan). When they are nice and brown, set aside. Lower the heat.
Add the shallots to the pan (there should be lots of nice beef fat in it; if it’s dry, add a little more oil) and fry for 5 minutes or so, until golden and starting to soften. While this is happening, crush the garlic and grate the ginger.
Add the ginger and garlic to the pan. Bash the lemongrass stalk with something heavy (like the pestle from a pestle and mortar), and add it to the pan with the lime leaves and star anise. Fry for a couple of minutes.
Pour in the stock and soy sauce. Return the beef ribs to the pan along with any resting juices. Bring everything to a simmer, stir, then put on the lid.
Put in the oven and cook for at least 4 hours (you can leave it for up to around 8-9 hours). When you’re nearly ready to eat, remove from the oven. Set the meat aside (you can leave it on the bone or shred with two forks) and put the pan on the hob. Simmer the sauce for around 15-20 minutes until reduced and thick. Return the meat to the sauce. Add the lime juice and sprinkle over the chilli.
Serve with sticky or jasmine rice, garnished with Thai basil or coriander leaves and lime wedges.