In 2005, I was hired to work with a family’s personal chef in Portola Valley, California. My wife and I stayed in their guest in the middle of their vineyard and worked for two weeks  with an amazing cook from Tibet named Seeta. It was my goal to teach her some “American” food as she specialized in Tibetan and Indian food. The reality of the experience was that I learned far more from her than she did from me. The reason I tell you this story is that, during our stay, Jessie and I took a trip into San Francisco and ate at The Stinking Rose. I had the “Silence of The Lamb Shanks” and I was forever changed.

Growing up, I didn’t eat lamb. I learned to cook rack of lamb while in Culinary school, but beyond that, it was still foreign to me. In 2005, the “cheap cuts” still hadn’t found their way into the mainstream through the “nose to tail” movement, so the shank was a nice surprise. I began making them after that experience and soon developed a rosemary, garlic and Chianti braised shank similar to the one at The Stinking Rose. I’ve shared the recipe for this on my site.

Once the groundwork was lain, I began applying the same braise technique to other tough cuts and eventually to today’s short ribs. Here is how it went…

I started with a tray of well marbled short ribs that I purchased at Costco a while back. I actually pulled these out of my freezer and allowed them to thaw in the fridge overnight.

I also had a bottle of Chianti from Costco.

I patted the ribs dry with paper towel and seasoned them with kosher salt. I heated a thin layer of olive oil in my cast iron pot and then placed them, seasoned side down in the oil. I then seasoned the top side with salt. You can tell that the oil is hot because there is a lot of action in the picture.

I gave them a hard sear on all sides. Because I use thick walled cast iron and high heat, I can get away with searing several at once. If your pan is not as hefty and your heat not as hot, do this in batches in order to achieve carmalization.

When they were done, I placed them in a 4″ half pan, covered them with the bottle of Chianti and added a handful of diced red onion and two pinches (probably 5 cloves worth) of minced garlic.

I covered the pan tightly with aluminum foil and placed them in the oven at 275 degrees. After 90 minutes, they looked like this.

At that point, they had soaked up the flavor of the wine, but were not yet completely tender. So, I added some water to the pan and returned them to the oven. I turned them every 30 minutes until they reached the tenderness I was looking for. You don’t want “fall off the bone” tender, but just to the point where you can pick them up with tongs and they won’t fall apart, yet they are still fork tender.

From this point, you can cool and store them in your fridge for up to one week or freezer for up to 6 months. I gave them a few turns in the pan juices and heated up some sweet potato puree. I plopped two healthy spoonfuls of puree onto a plate, spread it out and topped it with one of the short ribs. I spooned a little of the pan juices over the top and BOOM! A meal fit for a king!

As you can see, the meat takes on a deep color from the wine, it has a beautiful caramelized appearance, and is moist and tender within. Paired with super simple sweet potatoes, this meal goes to prove that the best things in life are basic. While the meat takes a little attention to get started, it is basically hands off once it hits the oven.

I recommend this as a make ahead meal, but it could easily double as your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner when the holidays arrive. Just like with the Silence of The Lamb Shanks at The Stinking Rose, your house will fall silent with nothing but moaning when you serve this up!

Cook this for those you love and when the meal is over, remind them that they are…

“Keeping It Paleo!”

Your Pal,

Paleo Nick

On the line

Chianti Braised Short Ribs

Ingredients List:

  • 4 pounds boneless short ribs (from Costco), patted dry with paper towel
  • 1 bottle of Chianti
  • Olive oil, as needed
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small red onion, small dice
  • 3 sweet potatoes, roasted, skin removed and pureed
  • Water as needed

Preparation Instructions:

  1. Heat olive oil in a cast iron skillet over high heat. Season top side of short ribs with kosher salt and place season side down into hot oil. Season top side with kosher salt.
  2. Sear ribs on all sides until well caramelized, this is called a “hard sear” (you may need to do this in batches as not to overcrowd the pan).
  3. Preheat oven to 275° F.
  4. When all ribs have a hard sear, transfer to 9×13 baking dish or 4” hotel pan. Cover the ribs with the bottle of Chianti, sprinkle red onions and garlic over the top. Cover pan tightly with aluminum foil and place in the oven.
  5. Cook for 90 minutes, then turn the ribs over, checking for tenderness. If the pan appears to be drying out, add some water so that the ribs are at least half immersed in liquid. Return to oven and repeat the process every 30 minutes until they are fork tender, but not falling apart.
  6. Place 2 healthy scoops of sweet potato puree onto a plate and top with a short rib, spoon a little of the pan juice over the top and Boom! A meal fit for a king!
  7. Properly store remaining ribs in your refrigerator for one week or freeze for up to 6 months.

“Keep It Paleo!”

Zone Breakdown:  


Our short ribs provide the protein for us for this recipe. We start with 4 pounds (64oz), and then when that is cooked down, that gives us about 53oz left. Knowing that 1oz of beef equals one block, we are going to say that we have 53 blocks from the ribs.


Assuming our bottle of Chianti is 750ml, or just over 25oz, we know that 4oz equal a block, so therefore we get 6.5 blocks from the Chianti. Additionally, we get ½ a block from the garlic as 10 cloves equal one block. We also get two blocks from the onion. And finally we get 9 blocks from the sweet potatoes. Each potato is approximately 3 blocks. So we have a total of 18 blocks.


Our fats that are added come from the oil, that we use to cook in, so will depend on how much you use. But if you use around 1 tablespoon, that will be about 9 blocks, so try and keep track to add it in.

Balancing Act:

There is about a 3 to 1 ratio of protein to carbs in this meal. The fat will be about similar in that 3:1 to the protein too. Make sure you add the extra carbs and fats in to balance out this meal.



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