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Braised Short Ribs with Zinfandel and Tuscan Kale

Photo by EE Berger / Food Styling by Ross Zedinak / Prop Styling by Stephanie Potts

Courtesy Chef, Co-owner Joe Papach, The Harvey House, Madison, WI, Instagram @harveyhouse

Housed in a beautifully restored train depot, The Harvey House pays homage to Wisconsin’s rich history of convivial supper clubs. This take on classic wine-braised ribs has a brilliant addition in the kale, which adds texture and freshness to a very rich cut of meat. The brine here isn’t strictly necessary, since the fat marbling of beef short ribs keeps them moist and tender, but it adds depth of flavor. Chef Papach suggests serving this with wedges of roast pumpkin or other winter squash.

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5 lbs. beef short ribs (bone in, English cut)
Cider brine*
Vegetable oil, as needed
1 large yellow onion, medium dice
3 carrots, chopped
1 leek, chopped
4 cloves garlic, smashed
2 tablespoons flour
1 bunch thyme
1 (750 ml) bottle full-bodied red wine (such as Zinfandel)
1 quart beef broth
2 bunches Tuscan kale (aka lacinato or black kale), stemmed and chopped
1 tablespoon Sherry vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley


In a large container, submerge ribs in brine and refrigerate for at least 12 and up to 24 hours. When ready to cook, remove from brine and pat dry.

Heat oven to 325°F. Place an ovenproof stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat and coat with oil. Add short ribs in batches, brown well (4–5 minutes per side), and remove to a plate. Reduce heat to medium, add onion, carrots, leek and garlic to pan and cook until onion is tender, about 5 minutes. Add flour and cook for 3 minutes, stirring often. Add the thyme and wine, scraping up browned bits, then raise heat to high and let the wine boil until it reduces to a thick, almost syrupy, consistency. Add the short ribs and beef broth to the pan, return to a boil, then cover tightly and place in the oven until ribs are very tender, about 3 hours.

Carefully remove the short ribs from the pan (the meat will be falling off the bone) and set aside. Strain the braising liquid through a fine-mesh strainer, pressing on the solids to fully extract the sauce. (Ribs and sauce can be prepared up to this stage and refrigerated in separate containers, for up to two days.)

Return sauce to pan and cook over medium-high heat until it reduces to a gravy consistency. Season with salt, if needed. Reduce heat to low, add kale and cook until tender, 8-10 minutes. Return ribs to pot and warm through before serving. Add vinegar and parsley just before serving.

*How to Make Cider Brine

Combine in a pot ½ gallon apple cider, ½ cup kosher salt, ¼ cup brown sugar, 2 star anise, 1 cinnamon stick, 1 teaspoon black peppercorns, 1 teaspoon whole allspice, 2 garlic cloves. Bring to a boil, then strain and chill.


Rabble 2019 Zinfandel (Paso Robles); 90 Points.

The richness of beef ribs comes from both fat and melted collagen, which call for a tannic wine for mouth-cleansing contrast (in turn, the fat softens the tannins). Zinfandel brings the tannins alongside spicy and jammy flavors that go beautifully with beef ribs. This bottle exudes cheery notes of berries, smoke and Cherry Coke, with complex spices and burly tannins that keep things intriguing.

Or try it with a traditional bourbon

The way bourbon rides between sweet and savory works here. A too-sweet bourbon would overwhelm, but a traditional one’s sweetness works almost like a sweet-spicy condiment (since this sauce has no sweetness).

This article originally appeared in the October 2022 issue of Wine Enthusiast magazine. Click here to subscribe today!