This week is a week of celebration: yesterday was TNS’s third anniversary (and check out the “Thank you, readers!” giveaway if you haven’t already).


Meanwhile, today is the ninth anniversary for me and Brian. Which can only mean one thing. Okay, two things:

  1. Beer and hoisin-braised short ribs with mascarpone mashed sweet potatoes for dinner, and
  2. A sappy post about my totally awesome relationship. I’m warning you up front, so you can back out if you’d like.

I’m calling do-over because technically, I did post these ribs once before, but it was in the first month of the blog’s existence, no one was paying any attention, and the photos were wretched. I’ve refined things a bit over the past three years as well.


Braising short ribs starts out with cooking the ribs in the oven on high heat for a while to develop some color (which equals flavor). During the rib roast, I put together the braising liquid on the stovetop, giving the flavors a chance to meld and me a chance to correct the seasoning and get the taste exactly where I wanted it to be.

You can probably figure out how to streamline things, but I have braise-related paranoia and like my liquid to be EXACTLY RIGHT so the resulting sauce will be ABSOLUTELY PERFECT. Perhaps I am a bit of an overachiever.


While things simmered on the stovetop and snapped-crackled-popped in the oven, I hied to the den to take advantage of our new subscription to Netflix and stream some episodes of The Tudors.* I’m a bit of an anglophile, except that I only really care about pre-1600 Britain, so it seemed like it would be up my alley. Also I need to watch it when I’m home alone; Brian will indulge me many things, but I don’t like to take advantage.

*Quibble: would it have been so hard to find a red-haired actor to play Henry VIII, so I could suspend my disbelief more effectively? Come on, show.


I’m happy not to have been born royal in the 16th century, because if The Tudors is any indication, I would have been forced to marry the elderly and gouty king of Portugal and then to kill him to escape the marriage, and my soul isn’t prepared to bear the burden of that kind of sin. Luckily, I was born a modern gal and was able to exploit my heterosexual privilege and marry for love.

da beer

Speaking of my marriage, have I mentioned that it kicks ass? You totally wish you had my relationship. Here are some reasons, in a bulleted list and in no particular order.

  • There are impromptu foot and back rubs.
  • There are pre-emptive chocolate bars when I’m about to get my period.
  • There is near-constant laughter.
  • He is smoking hot and has a sexy, sexy beard.
  • Someone knows what I am thinking almost before I think it, which could be totally creepy but is not.
  • Have I mentioned all the laughing?
  • He not only tolerates the destruction I leave in my wake whenever I cook (it’s formidable), but often cleans it.
  • He shares my deep and abiding love of Gene Kelly.
  • Best. Hugs. Ever.

This is all in addition to the fact that I would probably be dead if it were not for him. For those who may not know, I’m Bipolar and have had some pretty black times. Okay, seriously black. His boundless patience and understanding where a major part of what gets me through those times. There are no words that can adequately express my gratitude for the fact that he willingly and lovingly puts up with a crazy woman on a daily basis. For NINE WHOLE YEARS.

Add all this to the fact that he is adorable in ten thousand million different ways, and you can see why I’d be smitten.

plated, one

Since there are no words to express my gratitude I have to do it via short rib, which I think is a highly effective medium for conveying to someone how much you love them. Especially when beer is also involved. Hello, I love you, have some beef.

plated, two

Beer-Braised Short Ribs with Asian Flavors

For the beef:
4-6 beef short ribs

For the braising liquid & reduction:
2 large onions
2 large carrots
1 head garlic
3 tbsp. olive oil (or canola/veg oil, or butter)
2 c. chicken stock
1 28oz. can crushed tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
1/2 c. hoisin sauce
1/3 c. plum sauce
1 tsp. chili-garlic paste
2 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
2 tsp. Chinese Five-Spice Power (if you don’t have this, sub cinnamon and star anise)
1 750ml bottle Belgian beer (I like Chimay)

Pre-heat the oven to 450. Arrange the ribs in a single layer in a roasting pan or dutch oven, preferably one that can also be used on the stove, and season with salt and pepper. Roast in the over for 40 minutes, flip the ribs, and roast 15-20 more minutes until brown.

Meanwhile, roughly chop the onion and carrots and cut off the top fourth of the garlic to expose all the cloves. Put a large pot over medium heat and heat the oil. Add the onions and carrots and cook until the onion is translucent and slightly golden and the carrots are tender, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, tomatoes, stock, hoisin, plum sauce, vinegar, chili paste and Five-Spice; let simmer while the ribs are roasting.

When the ribs are browned, remove them from the roasting pan and pour off the fat; knock the oven temperature down to 300. Put the roasting pan on the stove over medium-high heat. Pour in the beer, making sure to scrape up any beefy bits sticking to the bottom of the pan. Let the beer reduce by about 1/3.

Pour the reduced beer into the braising liquid, and adjust the taste/seasonings. Return the ribs to the roasting pan and pour in enough liquid to come 2/3 the way up the sides of the ribs, being sure to get the garlic and some onions into the pan.

Cover the ribs (use heavy-duty foil if you’re not using a dutch oven with a cover) and return to the now-300 degree oven. Cook 3 hours, turning every hour or so, until you can pull the meat apart easily with a fork. Put them aside to rest. Do not pick at them.

When the ribs are done and are resting, strain the solids out of some of the braising liquid and use a fat separator to get rid of the fat (if you make the ribs the day before, skip this step – just put the whole pan in the fridge and let the fat congeal on top overnight, then peel it off, discard and proceed). You want to have about 2 cups of liquid.

Heat a pan over high heat until very hot, and pour in the defatted liquid. Reduce until syrupy, making any flavor adjustments you want (I threw in a little dried chili at the last minute).

Pull the short ribs from the bone – they’ll come off easily – and serve napped with the reduced sauce.