I meant to make this dish when it was a little chillier, since nothing warms the bones like slow-cooked meat. Instead, I chose to sweat it out over braised short ribs on a sultry April evening simply because I had been on the road for a week and was preparing to do so for another. I needed something comforting and rich, and something I sure as hell wasn’t going to be getting from hotel room service. So, I rustled through my torn-out “must try” magazine recipes and settled on this one, largely because it would provide tasty leftover sandwiches for my hubby while I was out of town on business.
The short ribs themselves are amazing – totally tender and meaty, and all of the aromatics will make your house smell INSANE. There’s not a ton of active cooking time, either, so you can busy yourself with other things. The onions take no time at all to cook, so don’t get started on them till the end of the process (if you want to eat them warm and fresh, at least).
As for the sandwiches, I’ve posted the original recipe, which calls for them to be grilled (which I’m sure would be delicious). The logistics didn’t quite work for me to do that, but I did make cold sandwiches on fresh ciabatta bread, and they were delicious. The onions and arugula did a nice job of cutting the richness of the meat, and even though I used good quality Colby Jack cheese, I don’t think it really added anything (possibly because it wasn’t melted).
Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper. Melt butter in large wide pot over medium-high heat. Working in 2 batches, cook beef until browned, about 6 minutes per batch. Transfer to large rimmed baking sheet. Add celery, carrots, and onion to pot and sauté until beginning to soften and brown, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Add wine, broth, Sherry, garlic, bay leaves, and thyme sprig; bring to boil, scraping up browned bits. Season with salt and pepper. Return ribs to pot, propping up on sides and arranging in single layer. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 1 hour.
Using tongs, turn ribs over in pot. Cover and simmer until ribs are tender and sauce is very thick, occasionally rearranging ribs in pot to prevent sticking, about 1 1/2 hours longer.
Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions, sprinkle with salt, and sauté until beginning to brown, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Add vinegar and sugar and cook until almost all vinegar is absorbed, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to microwave-safe bowl; cool.
Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with waxed paper. Butter 8 bread slices; place 4 slices, buttered side down, on each prepared sheet. Divide short rib mixture among bread slices, about 1/2 cup for each. Divide cheese among sandwiches. Spoon about 1/4 cup onions over each sandwich. Place large handful of arugula atop onions. Top with remaining 8 bread slices. Spread bread with butter.
Heat griddle or 2 large skillets over medium heat. Working in batches, cook sandwiches until bread is golden brown and cheese melts, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to work surface. Cut each in half on diagonal. Transfer to plates and serve.