72 hours Sous-Vide Short Ribs

I wanted to take a “Modernist” approach to short ribs but while keeping the robust flavors of a traditional braisé. So this recipe is a mix of Nathan Myrhvold 72 hours sous-vide short ribs and my own concoction. I normally would soak the short ribs overnight in a mixture of aromatic vegetables, herbs and red wine but I skipped that step because I figured that with the gentle cooking process over a 3 days period in the Sous Vide Supremethe short ribs and the “braising liquid” would have plenty of time to get to know each other.

I have a vivid memory of the best short ribs I ever made. I used this exact same recipe in a traditional braisé but the difference is that they were made at high altitude, in the Colorado mountains. As you may or may not know the braising process is slowed down at high altitude and it has to do with the smaller vapor pressure and lower boiling temperatures – and as a result I had to braise the wine-soaked short ribs for 8 hours straight. They were beyond incredible.

I had high hopes using sous-vide because I thought it would recreate and even surpass the ultimate environment I remembered from this experience. So how did it go?

It’s hard to decide which one is my favorite recipe now. The short ribs were beyond amazing, and at “amazing vs incredible” I don’t know who wins. Three days is a long time to wait for dinner but the active prep time is only 30 minutes. Just forget about them in the water bath and you’ll have a nice surprise this week-end.

If you’re not equipped for sous-vide cooking the traditional recipe is here.

If you haven’t checked out my last post, go now! Zenspotting is live and accepting submissions.

  • 72-hours Sous-Vide Short Ribs

    • Serves 4
    • For the 72 hours sous-vide beef short ribs:
    • 1 bottle dry red wine
    • canola oil
    • 8 short ribs (4 inch cubes)
    • salt and black pepper
    • 4 cloves of garlic, smashed and peeled
    • 1 medium onion, peeled and roughly chopped
    • 1 medium carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
    • 2 stalks celery, roughly chopped
    • 2 sprigs of thyme
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 1/4 cup tomato paste
    • 2 cups veal demi glace or stock
    • For the beef short ribs:
  • Preheat the water bath to 144’F (62’C)
  • Pour the wine in a large saucepan, bring to a boil and carefully light it with a match. Let the flames die down (it will take a few minutes) and continue reducing the wine by half. Set aside.
  • Season the short ribs generously with salt and pepper. Heat a large dutch oven and and brown them on all side in canola oil. Set them aside. Discard the oil, add a little olive oil and add the aromatic vegetables, garlic, thyme and bay leaves. Cook until the vegetables start to caramelize and add the tomato paste. Cook for one more minute.
  • Add the wine and the stock, bring to a boil and let it cool completely. When the wine mixture is cold, divide the short ribs between two large vacuum bags. Pour about a cup of the wine and vegetable mixture in each bag and vacuum seal. Keep the remaining wine mixture.
  • Place the short ribs in the water bath and set the timer to 72 hours.
  • Cool in the short ribs in a large bowl filled with iced water. Refrigerate.
  • When ready to serve, carefully open the bags. Set the short ribs aside and peel off the bone. Strain the wine mixture into a saucepan (combine with the leftover wine mixture if any) and reduce the sauce. Reheat the short ribs in the sauce until meltingly tender. Reduce the sauce until it coats the back of a spoon. Serve with potato and carrot puree, celery leaves salad and mushrooms.
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  • http://www.servingseconds.com/ Melissa Zeidan

    Hi Zen…I’m a new follower, and I’m so enamored by all of your beautiful photography and insane cooking skills!!  I can already tell I’m going to learn a lot from you…thanks!

  • http://twitter.com/KaveyF Kavita

    Good grief, they do sound good!

  • David

    what kind of sous vide machine do you recommend?  Or is yours homemade?

  • Sp1187

    ok Zensei,
    I have the Sous Vide Supreme and their vacuum sealer.
    Are you using a vacuum sealer or a vacuum chamber?

  • Anonymous

    Good question. I made this at home where I only have a vacuum sealer. As you may already know, it’s a bit more challenging to vacuum liquid without a vacuum chamber but it can be done. Don’t use too much liquid in the bags, and press cancel as soon as the liquid comes up to the top of the bag. . 

  • Anonymous

    Thank you, Kavita!

  • Anonymous

    For the home I recommend Sous Vide Supreme. Check out their website!

  • Anonymous

    Thank you, Melissa! And welcome! Come back often! :)

  • Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella

    The sauce looks so luscious on the top there! 😀

  • Jim

    Yes!!  Was waiting for you to do sous vide short ribs!  Got a Sous Vide Supreme not long ago, and short ribs were high on my list, now I can do them ZEN STYLE, which is always the best!

  • Jim

    Yes!!  Was waiting for you to do sous vide short ribs!  Got a Sous Vide Supreme not long ago, and short ribs were high on my list, now I can do them ZEN STYLE, which is always the best!

  • Jim

    One question, do you use the demi glace full strength, or diluted?

  • http://www.ouichefnetwork.com Oui, Chef

    Our friend, Mr. Robuchon has nothing on you, Zen.  I am quite certain he would be proud to call this plate his. You rock!

  • http://www.kitchenriffs.com/ kitchenriffs

    Extremely interesting.  I love reading your thought processes.  And your October, 2010 Short Ribs recipe is superb – I totally get what you’re doing, and anybody who can cook can do it.  I promise I’ll play with that this year – this is the sort of dish I thoroughly enjoy cooking.  All your photos are good, but I’m happy you included the second one (of the vacuum sealed bag).  Very nice light on that, nice texture on the bag, really interesting shape.  Have I made the point that I like it? 

  • http://www.foodgal.com/ Carolyn Jung

    Leave it to you to have me craving short ribs at the breakfast hour! Hah. But these look so tempting — especially with that lovely glaze on ’em.

  • Anonymous

    ZEN STYLE is the only style! :) Thanks for the comment, Jim! I used demi glace full strength because I’m not fooling around! 

  • Anonymous

    Oh you know, I taught Robuchon everything he knows. 😛

  • Anonymous

    I think you’ve made your point, Sir. haha Thank you!
    You should try that 2010 short rib recipe. It’s a really good one.

  • Anonymous

    Short ribs on toast with a cup o’ joe. Breakfast of Champions! :) 

  • http://www.facebook.com/TiffSmiff Tiffany Smith

    Hi Zen, I, too am a new follower and entranced..and trying to get to know my camera, so inspired am I :)) I live in lovely France and wonder if you know what the equivalent of beef short ribs would be here? American recipes talk about them alot, but I can’t really see a similar thing here. Thanks in advance!

  • Anonymous

    Hi Tiffany. Thanks for stopping by. Unfortunately animals are butchered a little differently in France so you’ll have to ask your butcher for “plat de côte”. That’s the closest cut to beef short ribs found in the US. . 

  • Aldyth Moyla

    Hi Zen, That looks deliciously irresistible! What a gorgeous presentation :) Have a great day!

  • http://twitter.com/AlDenteGourmet AL

    Hi Zen, That looks deliciously irresistible! What a gorgeous presentation :) Have a great day

  • Anonymous

    Thank you! I love the photography on your site. :) 

  • Nick

    You have made the case for investing in some Sous-Vide equipment. Thanks for caring about light and exposure. Your photgraphy is top level.

  • Anonymous

    It’s high praise coming from you, Sir. I checked out your website and I’m very impressed. 

  • Nick

    Thank you Zen. I wonder if you would give any advice on equipment. I have always been very happy to do a great deal with as little as possible. (I shot Al Green for Rolling Stone with a cardboard camera) In terms of Sous Vide is there any reasonable well made equipment you know of? Thank you for any thoughts.

  • Anonymous

    Wow! Nick, if you like to build things you can make your own immersion circulator for about $75. The DIY is here: http://bit.ly/drEYdN

    Otherwise Sous-Vide Supreme has great (and affordable) solutions for the home cook. That’s what I use at home and I have no complaints: http://bit.ly/a1gDkg 

    Just as a FYI, the “Leica” of sous-vide is here: http://www.cuisinetechnology.com/

    Now, would I have to sell a liver to get a “zen chef” portrait made? haha

  • Nick

    So you’re a mind reader also. Thank you for the free cooking advice. Let’s collaborate on a picture. Please feel free to email me. My contact info is on my site.

  • http://twitter.com/Fauxreigner Josh H

    Out of curiosity, what’s the benefit of lighting the wine on fire as you reduce it?

  • Anonymous

    To burn the alcohol in the wine. You want the taste of the wine but not the alcohol. 

  • Pete

    Errrr… Ethanol (i.e. alcohol in wine and spirits) has a boiling point of 78C so when you reduce your sauce by half you’ve also boiled away all that at the same time. Also, being able to light the wine at all is because the ethanol is already evaporating and is floating on top of the saucepan (that is why cold wine doesn’t burn). So you would get rid of the ethanol anyway without lighting it. Now, when you burn it instead of letting it just avaporate, you actually convert it other chemicals of which some stay with the sauce and will affect the taste. Pure burning of ethanol would result in just water and carbon dioxide, but the temperature in that fire is above boiling point of vapor and the vaport also contains other chemicals and there will be quite complicated chemical reactions happening in there. Whether that is a positive or negative things depends on the end result…

  • Helen Rennie

    Hi Zen,

    I found your blog a couple of weeks ago and you have ruined my productivity.  I am addicted :)  A question for you about using sous-vide supreme for days.  Whenever I do it, it ends up leaking water from the bottom by the second day.  I am not sure if it’s really leaking or if water is just condensing on it and then dripping down.  But I end up with a puddle.  Have you seen anything like this or is it just my machine?  I try putting a towel underneath it, but it seems to have vents there and I am concerned about blocking them.

    Any advice?


  • zenchef

    Hi Helen,

    Thank you very much for the kind words.  As for the Sous-Vide Supreme I’ve never had this kind of problem before. Could it be coming from the water that accumulates underneath the lid and drips down when you open it? Or it could be a leak. I think you should try to contact the folks at Sous Vide Supreme to see what they say. Good luck!

  • Ivan

    Hi Zen,

    I found your blog a couple days ago and your tutorial is so detail which inspire me a lot. A question for this recipe is the method of the presentation. I saw your way to serve the puree like a water drop and I would really like to know how to do it. Can you please advice me the skill require ?

    Thanks so much !


  • Marvin

    Hi. A little late to this discussion, but do you think the braising liquid makes much difference? Also, I think modernist recommends not salting on long SV cooks? Any thoughts out there from those that tried justdry vs short ribs, vs the braised? I did the David Chang variety, which created Korean flavored ribs, so yummy. But I’m not going for that taste this weekend. Thx all.

  • whatever_dude

    Hi. I just tried my first 72-hour ribs. I cooked them in a soy sauce based marinade and that was a mistake–the long cook time drove the marinade completely through the meat, making it way too salty. Next time, I’ll season, but remove the marinade before cooking…or use this guy’s less salty idea.