I am not sure what is more rewarding, eating this dish or creating it. By braising the meat with cranberries, the natural sweetness of the short rib is enhanced and even seems to ascend to a harmonious balance of what would seem a well-calculated blend of ingredients.
However, after making this dish repeatedly and with so few ingredients for the flavor yield, I always feel humbled by how the beef seems to enhance itself to such a level with an absolute minimum of manipulation.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Place a heavy-bottomed and high-sided oven tray on burners set to medium. Add the butter and allow to brown (cook for 3-5 minutes).
Place the ribs in the pan and brown all the sides.
Set the burner to high, remove the ribs and add the onion. Sauté for 3 minutes, getting a good color on them.
Add cranberries, thyme and cayenne, and cook for a few more minutes.
Add a pinch of salt and pepper and slowly pour in the beef stock. Stir, scraping the bottom of the pan to mix any sediment off the bottom into the stock.
Switch off the burners and add the ribs, bone side down. Cover the pan with aluminum foil and place in the oven for three hours.
After 3 hours, reduce the oven temperature to 250 degrees F and cook for three more hours.
After this second three-hour stint, switch off the oven and leave the pan inside for one more hour.
Carefully remove the foil and place the ribs on a baking tray.
Pour the braising liquid into a blender and blend for 30 seconds. Pour the mixture into a heavy-bottomed pot set to simmer and cook to reduce for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the ribs in the oven at 300 degrees F to crisp the outside and give them another level of texture.
Place the ribs on a plate and pour the gravy over it. Serve with mashed potatoes or rice and enjoy.
Mark Godbeer has been a yacht chef for more than 10 years. Contact him through chefmarkgodbeer.com.