Essential ingredients: short rib


As Bordeaux’s most illustrious châteaux release their 2018 wines en primeur, our Head Chef Stewart Turner finds inspiration for a decadent beef dish, while Buyer Oliver Barton suggests the perfect pairing – an unusual and deliciously fresh style of Claret

On the plate: This is one of the most important (and busiest) seasons in the wine calendar from a merchant’s point of view – as en primeur is upon us. Bordeaux’s 2018 wines have been tasted, the notes taken and opinions on quality given; now we wait for the fun to begin as wines are released.

At this time of year, I always try to do a recipe that screams Bordeaux and is a real winner with these mighty wines, although you might have to go with a slightly older vintage.

Short ribs are also known as a Jacob’s ladder, named after a stairway between earth and heaven that the Hebrew patriarch Jacob dreamed of in Genesis. There aren’t many foodstuffs that can take their name from religious mythology; although those who are familiar with this cut may well agree with the analogy.

It is a wonderful cut, but sadly not one a lot of people cook with. We have been using this as our go-to slow-cooking cut at No.3 for many years. It’s got great fat content, which prevents it drying out and fantastic flavour, either on or off the bone.

In the glass: For fatty cuts of beef or pork, I generally recommend a red wine with very little oak ageing, something fleshy and fresh to cut through the richness – avoiding an overload of hard, dark tannins. This, you may remark, could be a difficult brief when looking at Bordeaux reds, but there is a trend emerging in the region (beyond the Crus Classés) for fresher, lighter wines made for early consumption, rather than lengthy cellaring.

For this dish I have just the thing: a lighter, leaner red from the Right Bank with plenty of juicy bramble fruit, soft gentle tannins and lovely fresh acidity to cleanse the palate and make you want to go back for more. Domaine de Valmengaux is not only matured in larger old oak barrels (which allow the wine to age gently, without imparting wood flavours), but a part of the wine is aged in amphorae – polishing the tannins, while preserving the purity of fruit flavours in the wine. The generous fruit and fresh acidity should be a wonderful partner for this hearty meal, making for an indulgent but refined pairing to convert many a Bordeaux-phobe.

Short rib BordelaiseServes 6
  • 2kg piece of short rib – off the bone
  • 1 onion – peeled and sliced thickly
  • 1 head of garlic – split
  • ½ bunch thyme
  • 3 sprigs of rosemary
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

To finish

  • 4 shallots – peeled and finely chopped
  • 100ml red wine
  • 100ml Port
  • 1 x recipe red wine sauce (see below)
  • 100g bone marrow – removed from the bone and cut into rings
  • Olive oil
  • 50g butter
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 200°C. Season the short rib well and drizzle with a little olive oil. Roast for about 20 minutes, until nicely sealed and browned.

Remove from the oven and lower the temperature to 140°C. Lay out a large piece of foil and top with a piece of greaseproof paper (both large enough to wrap the beef in), then scatter it with the onions, garlic, thyme and rosemary, and place the beef on top. Wrap the meat and vegetables up in the greaseproof and foil to form a parcel, making sure it’s well sealed. Return to the oven and cook for about four hours, until the meat is soft and yielding (poke a skewer into the meat and if it isn’t met with any resistance then it’s done; if it feels a bit tough, return to the oven for another 30 minutes).

Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Place the meat on a tray or dish and place another tray on top, holding it down with a medium weight, and put in the fridge overnight. Cover the shallots with the wine and Port, and also pop in the fridge overnight.

Once pressed, remove form the fridge and cut into about 2cm thick slices (approximately 150g portions). Simmer the shallot and red wine mix until all the liquid has evaporated.

Pan fry the short rib portions in a good splash of oil for three minutes on each side, adding the butter halfway through and basting well with the foaming fat. Drain onto a tray and top with the bone marrow rings. Flash under a hot grill to take the edge off the bone marrow. Add the shallots to the red wine jus and spoon over the bone marrow and beef. Serve with some buttered Jersey royals and spring greens.

Red wine jus

  • 50g butter
  • 2 shallots – peeled and finely sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic – smashed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 100g button mushrooms – finely sliced
  • 200ml red wine
  • 500ml beef stock
  • Olive oil

Heat a good splash of olive oil in a saucepan. Fry the shallots, mushrooms and garlic until softened and just starting to brown. Add the thyme and bay, pour over the red wine and bring to the boil. Simmer for six to eight minutes, or until the volume of liquid has reduced by two thirds.

Add the stock and bring to the boil. Skim and reduce the temperature. Simmer until the volume of liquid has reduced by about half to a nice saucy consistency. Pass through a fine sieve into a clean pan and finish with the butter. Keep warm until ready to serve.

Read all about Bordeaux 2018 here, or shop the latest releases at