Sheri Castle’s Instant Pot Bourbon & Cola Beef Short Ribs


Recipe reprinted from Instantly Southern: 85 Southern Favorites for Your Pressure Cooker, Multicooker, and Instant Pot®. Copyright © 2018 by Sheri Castle. Photograph copyright © 2018 Hélène Dujardin. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

This dish is inspired by the classic braised beef recipes that appear in almost all vintage community cookbooks in the South. The classic relied on a packet of dry onion soup mix for seasoning and a bottle of cola to help tenderize the beef. This recipe updates those flavors a bit. Instead of dry soup mix, the gravy includes fresh onions and herbs. Pressure-cooking ensures tender beef, but the cola is still here for flavor. Be sure to use cola sweetened with cane sugar that holds its flavor when cooked, such as one of the local, classic, or throwback soda pops that are popular and plentiful these days. I also add Southern bourbon. It all adds up to tender braised beef in exceptional gravy.

  • SERVES 6
  • 3 to 3 1/2 pounds boneless beef short ribs
  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper
  • 1 to 3 tablespoons tablespoons vegetable oil, as needed
  • medium yellow onions, chopped (about 4 cups)
  • large garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup cola, preferably sweetened with cane sugar (not diet)
  • 3 tablespoons tomato-based chili sauce or ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 cup bourbon
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
  1. Blot the meat dry with paper towels and then sprinkle it all over with 2 teaspoons salt and 1½ teaspoons pepper. Warm 1 table-spoon of the oil in the pot on sauté high. Add the beef to the pot, working in batches to avoid crowding (so the meat sears and browns rather than steams). Let the short ribs cook undisturbed until deeply browned on all sides, flipping with tongs, 3 to 4 minutes per side. (When the meat is sufficiently seared, it will release from the pot without tugging and lift easily with tongs.) Transfer the browned pieces to a large bowl and repeat with the remaining pieces, adding more oil as needed if the pot looks dry. Reduce the heat and add a few drops of water if the browned glaze on the bottom of the pot begins to scorch or does not loosen. (The multi cooker might issue a burn warning message if there are solids stuck to the bottom of the pot during pressure-cooking.)
  2. Reduce the heat to sauté medium and add the onions and garlic. Stir to scrape up every speck of the browned bits and glaze from the bottom of the pot. Add a splash of water if necessary to loosen the browned bits. Cook until the onions begin to soften, about 3 minutes, stirring often.
  3. Stir in the cola, chili sauce, Worcestershire, soy sauce, dried thyme, and paprika. Cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Return the beef to the pot. Cover and cook on high pressure for 55 minutes. Let stand for natural release of the pressure.
  4. Use a spider or large slotted spoon to transfer the meat to a bowl, leaving the cooking liquid and vegetables in the pot. Spoon off as much fat as possible from the surface or use a fat separator.
  5. Puree the cooking liquid and vegetables with an immersion blender directly in the pot. (Alternatively, purée in batches in a stand blender, filling it no more than one-third full with hot liquid. Return the puree to the pot.) Stir in the bourbon and season the gravy with salt and pepper.
  6. Return the ribs to the pot, nestling them together and coat-ing them in the gravy. Let the meat rest in the gravy on warm medium until warmed through, about 20 minutes. Serve warm, sprinkled with fresh thyme.
  7. Hint: Braised beef always tastes best the second or third day, so when time allows, let the finished dish cool to room temperature, which you can speed up by setting the inner pot in a large bowl or sink of ice water. When it’s time to serve the dish, discard the fat that collects and solidifies on top. Wipe the outside of the inner pot dry, return it to the multi-cooker, and reheat the meat and gravy on WARM HIGH before serving.


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