Anise-and-ginger-scented short ribs over mashed potatoes: time for comfort food!

Our lovely extended fall seems to be coming to an end. Snif. Tonight’s low is supposed to be 12 degrees. Yikes! It’ll be our first hard freeze, which means that this morning the kids and I will scurry about and remove all the hoses from the outdoor faucets; we’ll move the rest of our garden squashes and so forth inside, and we’ll make sure that we’ve got plenty of firewood inside to keep our wood stove burning. Also I’ve noticed a few storm windows still need to be closed, and I’ve got to close up a window out at the chicken coop, too.

I’m thinking that I’d better make a list.

It’s finally time for comfort food, Gentle Readers. Hot bread. Red meat. Mashed potatoes. Casseroles. Baked squash. Hot and chunky applesauce. These are the things that I don’t have much interest in, during the warmer months, but once it gets cold, I can’t get enough of them. This, of course, makes my family very happy, indeed, because they can eat these hearty and heavy meals 24/7, 365 days of the year. Bless them.

We buy a quarter of a beef every spring from a local farmer, and I try to time our beef consumption over the year so by the time the next spring rolls around, we’ve used up most of the beef and are ready to tuck another batch into the freezer. We use the hamburger and the packages of stew meat first, of course, followed by the roasts and the steaks. I’ve always just pushed the large packages of short ribs around, sometimes accumulating more than one year’s worth, just because I’ve never really known what to do with them. They are always at the bottom of the freezer, like some unpopular uncle, you know the one that gives you strange looks and you’re not sure what to say to him . . . so you just avoid him?

Yeah. Really lousy analogy, but do you know what I mean, anyway?

Well, I’ve discovered a new way to prepare these short ribs, and they are no longer the awkward uncle at the bottom of the freezer. So to speak (clearing of throat). Moving on . . .

You may or may not know that short ribs are the cut-off ends of the prime rib, so the meat on them is just delicious, but tough, and there’s lots of fat and gristle on them bones, too. So it’s a bit of a process to cook them properly. It takes some time. They need plenty of slow cooking in liquid, and then you’ve got to let them cool and separate the bones and strips of fat from the meat. It’s not a big deal, but it’s not quick frying a hamburger and slapping it on a bun, either.

It all seems like quite a bit of trouble, because it IS quite a bit of trouble. But, oh, if you do all that, you’ve got chunks of very rich and flavorful meat, AND (this is very exciting) lots of little bones to throw back into your pot to make broth out of.

I’m going to be writing about my broth-making adventures later this week. It seems a perfect time of year to do this. I’m a bit of a broth-making geek, and I’ve discovered the glories and the mysteries of making Bone Broth, which has been a wonderful thing, and has made me into a stark raving mad lunatic about making broth! Well, I figure it’s best that you know this.

But I’ll reveal that info later this week. I cooked up some short ribs last week and while they were cooling, I peeled potatoes (I knew that meat and potatoes, with meat juices to slather about, would make my family deliriously happy–and I do enjoy making them deliriously happy) and I put them on to boil (the potatoes, that is). After I had pulled the meat off the bones, I added some spices to it and put it in another pot with some of my fresh bone broth, and heated it back up. By the time the meat was hot and bubbly, the potatoes were ready to mash, the carrots were perfect, and the rest . . . as they say . . . was history. Very pleasant, tucked around the table, sweet smiles and eyes-rolling-back-in-bliss history. You can picture it, can’t you?

Oh, Gentle Reader, this is a glorious and indulgent meal, made out of the bottom-of-the-freezer awkward uncle-ish packages of short ribs. So the next time you end up with packages of short ribs in the bottom of your freezer–or if, perchance, you happen upon a good sale of them at your local grocery, try this recipe! It’s so good!

I heard only murmurs of delight when I served this to my fam.

Classic comfort food like this will elicit murmurs of delight when you  serve it to your fam.


Anise-and-ginger-scented short ribs
Author: Amy from
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6-8
This meal is classic comfort food, with a twist–adding ginger and star anise and just a bit of soy sauce gives it a unique and very flavorful zing! Serve with mashed potatoes and steamed carrots and make your stomach and your family very happy indeed!
  • 1 Tb vegetable oil
  • 3 lbs meaty short ribs, give or take
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 5 quarter-size slices fresh ginger
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 5 whole star anise
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • water to cover bones
  • 1 Tb rice vinegar
  • 2 Tb sugar
  1. Early in the day, heat the oil in a Dutch oven and brown the short ribs well on all sides, seasoning them as they cook with the pepper, 20 minutes or so.
  2. Remove ribs with slotted spoon and put into your crock pot, set to “high.” Here’s where the broth-making comes in. Pour water in to cover, and leave for 10 to 12 hours, or until the meat is tender and falling off the bones. Add more water if necessary.
  3. Remove the ribs from the pot, and a 3 or 4 cups of the broth. When the bones are cool, strip the meat off, give the fat to your dog, and put the bones back into the pot. You’re going to cook them a bit longer to make more bone broth.
  4. Once the fat has risen to the top of the set-aside broth, skim it off and pour the broth into a large pot and bring to a simmer. Add the chopped onion, the ginger, the garlic, the star anise, the soy sauce, the vinegar, and the sugar. Simmer until the onion is translucent, 10-15 minutes. Add the meat and heat until the broth is hot and bubbly.
  5. Cook and mash your potatoes, steam your carrots, and you’re ready for dinner!

Enjoy making this hot and steamy meal, stay warm, and check in later this week for more about Bone Broth!

I’ll be sharing this post with the cool link-parties at Frugally Sustainable and The Prairie Homestead. Come on over to learn something new! I’ve also linked up with the great group over at Delicious Obsessions. Come see!

19 thoughts on “Anise-and-ginger-scented short ribs over mashed potatoes: time for comfort food!

  1. Alexandria Ingham

    I’m not much of a beef eater–never been a fan of the taste–but I love others. This is definitely the time of year for hearty foods. Because I’m losing weight, we’ve been looking at vegetarian alternatives for a couple of hearty meals. Would this work for vegetarian alternatives (mainly quorn)?

  2. Gena Livings

    This looks like a wonderful dish, the presentation is lovely too!
    I’ll pass this recipe on to my best friend who loves ribs! She will be delighted to receive this!
    Thank you for sharing this!
    Healthy blessings

  3. Chef William

    My dad was a meat and potatoes person. Felt the day was not right without them, I like short ribs as well as many other cuts but I don’t buy that much ahead of time as it is so easy to get it down here in Mexico. I will cook some soon because I am a potato kind of guy and these two just work so well together.

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Cold weather just calls out meat and potatoes to me, Chef! Isn’t it hard to get the appetite up for it there on the beach?

  4. Francene Stanley

    Oh, comfort food. Love it. Tonight, my husband made cottage pie with a meat substitute. He threw in all the left overs as well as fennel and served it with fresh spinich with garlic. And on the top–mashed potato. Yum!

    1. dramamamafive Post author

      Your husband sounds like a gourmet, Francene. I love fennel, and I think that would make an excellent addition to this recipe!

  5. Suerae Stein

    I think it is so wonderful that you buy your beef from a local farmer – so smart and good for your family to buy local. We are not red meat eaters in my family (except for my son, who can get all his red meat in college now). But I do love the comfort food of winter and I’ll bet your recipe would be wonderful with chicken – I think I will try it in the crock pot! Thanks for sharing!

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