Merlin’s Beef Short Ribs

Here at Merlins, we denizens of the kitchen live and breathe that basic method at the heart of Celtic cooking: braising meats.  No matter the animal or the cut, cooking meat over flavorful liquids for a long period of time (and at low temperature) is always rewarding.  Eventually, however, even those processes we are most loving and passionate about take on a certain tedium. When the creative mind screams from its idle perch that these (albeit wonderful) recipes simply don’t change, in comes the cook’s saving grace: the special.

This recipe is slightly adapted from our Valentine’s Day special this year.  Elegance in simplicity would seem to be the motto, which in the end is fitting for a romantic holiday celebration at a British pub in Minneapolis.  Of course, that is exactly what we do here-Celtic country cooking performed with the knowledge and experience of trained chefs.

As to the recipe itself, a word of advice: seek out a butcher, or an Asian or Mexican grocer.  Cuts like short ribs can be costly at supermarkets, and will generally be inferior. Certain chuck cuts can easily be substituted for the ribs, but will eliminate the enjoyment of seeing the meat draw back from the bone.  Also, a proper short rib will elucidate the phrase “falling off the bone,” as this recipe will lead to a literal demonstration.

For the Brussels sprouts, the fat-fearing among us may want to reduce or eliminate the pork fat; this will seriously hamper the enjoyment of the dish.  Those who claim to hate the miniature cabbage often change tunes upon encountering bacon fat-braised Brussels sprouts. It can be done, but is seriously recommended against.  Similarly, the already buttery-tasting gold potato should be treated with care. Butter, and please accept no hydrogenated substitute, brings the golden root to its true flower.  At the very least, an eight-hour cooking process isn’t likely to be employed as an everyday meal. Save this one for a holiday, special occasion, or fest noz, and enjoy with gusto!



2 lbs. Beef Short Ribs (Thin Ribs or Jacob’s Ladder in U.K.)
4 Medium Red Beets
2 Large Leeks
1 Bottle/3 Cups Red Wine (Pinot Noir/Burgundy)
2 Cups Beef Stock
2 Tbs. Dry Mustard Powder (Colman’s)
Salt and Pepper


8 Gold Potatoes
½ Cup Butter
1 Cup Heavy Cream
½ Cup Sour Cream


Braise Liquid
½ Cup Bisto Gravy Powder
2 tsp. Salt
1/3 Cup Potato Starch

Brussels Sprouts:

1 lb. Brussels Sprouts
¼ Cup Butter
¼ Cup Bacon Fat or Lard
½ Cup White Wine


  • Preheat the oven to 250º F
  • Generously rub the meat with salt and pepper, and set aside.
  • Slice the beets, 1/4” thick.
  • Slash the leeks end-to-end, just to the center, then slice thinly to create shoestrings.
  • Whisk together wine, beef stock, and mustard.
  • Place beets, leeks, and liquid mixture in a roasting pan with rack.
  • Arrange the meat carefully on the rack so that no two pieces are touching.
  • Cover with tented foil.
  • Put in oven, and set a timer for 6 ½ hours (braise will take 7 ½ hours).


  • When the timer goes off, set the potatoes to boiling in a large saucepan or stockpot with ½ gallon water, and reset the timer for 1 ½ hours.
  • Once boiling point is reached, reduce to simmer.
  • Check potatoes frequently with fork or toothpick; they are ready when al dente-a toothpick will go in easily, but the potato will not slide off when lifted (should take 20-25 min.)
  • Drain the potatoes, and transfer to a baking sheet; set in oven, and bake 30 min.
  • Pull the potatoes from oven, and mash with butter, cream, and sour cream.  Salt to taste.



  • When roast is done, remove foil and set rack on a baking sheet.  
  • Strain vegetables, reserving braise liquid.
  • Pour braise liquid into a large saucepan, over medium heat.
  • Mix Bisto powder (or potato starch) with 1 Cup water, and whisk into saucepan.
  • Simmer until thickened, and salt to taste.


Brussels Sprouts (may need to be done ahead of time and reheated for serving):

  • Cut the tips off the sprouts, and cut each in half through the spine.
  • Arrange face down on a baking sheet, and scatter the butter and pork fat throughout.
  • Sprinkle with wine and salt.
  • Roast at 375º F for 30-40 min., until slightly browned and soft.

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