Make Braised Short Ribs on a Boat

Tender beef doesn't have to be complicated
Braised short ribs
For this recipe, you’ll want bone-in ribs, sliced so the bone is along one side of the cut and the remainder is meat with a bit of fat (the fat makes it good for braising). Ideally, it should be cut into 2- to 3-inch portions (as in photo above). Any butcher or local market will be able to do this for you if the meat isn’t already pre-sliced. —Lynda Morris Childress Jean Kerr

These ribs are particularly wonderful if you have time to make them on a lay day. When you drop anchor a day later, you’ll have dinner made and will find them even tastier than the day before. Wide pasta, smashed or mashed potatoes, polenta or a nice creamy risotto are the perfect foundation — or, if you like, you can peel and halve a few small potatoes, add them to the braising liquid and make it all in one pot! If you do this, be sure to serve with bread to mop up the flavorful sauce.

As with most of the recipes I use aboard our 60-year-old wooden cutter, Opus, I look at this as a template. Depending on your coordinates, you may or may not be able to find short ribs of beef at a local market, but odds are good that you can find a flavorful, bone-in cut of meat divided into relatively small pieces. We’re not talking steamboat roast here (unless perhaps you’re on a steamboat), just nice, easily portioned browned and braised meat. Almost any cut of beef or pork will give you a similarly tender and succulent dish.

The browning takes five to seven minutes over a good heat, so bear with it. You want a nice golden-brown, caramelized sear on all sides of your short ribs. The basic process for most meat braises is: season, sear, then cook low and slow in your choice of liquid, whether wine, stock, beer or some combination thereof. Stout, or any good dark beer, will render a lovely rich sauce.


Tender Braised Short Ribs

  • 6-8 beef short ribs, cut into 2-inch sections salt and pepper, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (or bacon fat)
  • 1 large carrot, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 large stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 cup beef stock or bouillon
  • 8-10 ounces stout or good dark beer
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary or thyme

Salt and pepper the meat to taste. Heat the oil/fat in a Dutch oven or stockpot. Sear the meat on each side until it is a nice deep golden brown. Remove meat from pot and set aside. Add vegetables. Saute until slightly browned. Return meat to the pot, and add liquids, tomato paste and herbs. Cover the pot and simmer (not boil) for about three hours. If you have an oven aboard, set it to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and let the covered pot blub away until the meat is tender but not quite falling off the bone. Serve with your favorite (or the local favorite) starch, green salad and bread for sauce-dipping — or, when cool, tuck the ribs into the icebox until the next day. Serves two to four, depending on appetite. (Allow two to three ribs per person.)


  • At anchor
  • Time: 15 minutes, plus 3 hours cook time
  • Difficulty: easy