Try braised beef ribs without the bones, and with less fat
Bottom round roast, a leaner cut of meat, works well in Braised Beef Ribs.
Who doesn't love the comforting meaty aroma that fills the house from ribs cooking slowly in a Dutch oven full of savory, gently bubbling liquid?
Braising is a long-honored method of cooking which coaxes out tenderness and deep flavors from tougher cuts of meat. The basic technique involves a Dutch oven and four main steps: Brown the meat and remove, cook the mirepoix (chopped onion, celery and carrot), deglaze the pan with liquid and, finally, return the meat to the Dutch oven, cover and let cook low and slow in the oven or on the stovetop until tender. Pork shoulder, brisket and short ribs are excellent candidates for braising with high fat content and tough flesh that need hours to soften.
My family loves braised beef ribs, but I wondered how easily I might be able to swap out a leaner cut of meat. Turns out it was pretty easy. I sliced a bottom round roast into chubby sticks about the size and shape of ribs and called them "boneless ribs."
Without the full fat and bones, however, I needed a smidge more work to get that richness and flavor of traditional braised ribs. First, I added mushrooms to the braise.
Second, I learned not to go too low in fat, which would result in dry meat. Bottom round was a magical happy spot.
Third, if you can, use the oven for the braising; the stovetop required a little more temperature management. Last, note that braising times will vary, so taste and test.
Food Network star Melissa d'Arabian is an expert on healthy eating on a budget. She is the author of the cookbook "Supermarket Healthy."
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BRAISED BEEF RIBS
2 ½-pound bottom round (or eye of round) about 1 ½ inches thick
Salt and pepper
2 tablespoons flour
1 tablespoon grapeseed or other neutral cooking oil
1 yellow onion, chopped, about 1 cup
1 carrot, finely chopped, about ½ cup
1 stalk celery, finely chopped, about ⅓ cup
5 cloves garlic, smashed
2 teaspoons fresh thyme, minced, or 1 teaspoon dried thyme
4 ounces baby bella mushrooms, wiped clean, trimmed and halved or chopped
Dash of red pepper flakes (optional)
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup red wine
1 ½ cups beef broth
Water, as needed
Heat oven to 325 degrees.
Pat the meat dry gently with a paper towel and slice crosswise into boneless "ribs." Season with salt and pepper and sprinkle all over with flour, rubbing the flour gently with your fingers to coat meat on all sides. Heat the oil in a large, heavy Dutch oven or braising pot over medium heat.
Brown meat on all sides until golden and crusty, about 3 or 4 minutes per side. Remove the meat with tongs, place on a plate and set aside. Add the onion, carrot and celery to the Dutch over (do not wipe it out) and cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until vegetables begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, thyme, mushrooms, pepper flakes and bay leaf and cook, stirring until very fragrant, about 2 more minutes.
Add the tomato paste and cook for another minute so it caramelizes and deepens in flavor. Deglaze the pan with wine and broth and let bubble for 1 or 2 minutes to let most of the alcohol evaporate. Add the meat back into the pan, along with any juices. Add ½ cup or so of water so the liquid covers the meat about halfway. Cover the Dutch oven with a lid and bake until meat is tender, about 1 ½ to 2 hours. Check the meat halfway through and add a little water if the braising liquid gets low. Serve the meat with the braising liquid spooned on like gravy.
Makes 6 servings.
Nutrition information per serving: 280 calories (69 calories from fat), 8g fat (3g saturated, 0g trans fats), 95mg cholesterol, 223mg sodium, 10g carbohydrates, 2g fiber, 4g sugar, 36g protein.