Economic warning – DO NOT cook beef short ribs on a bed of garlic served with red wine reduction and celeriac mash.

Beef Short RibsSorry about the long headline but I have been talking to my butcher. He tells me that beef short ribs or Jacob’s Ladder, as it is known in trendier spots, is becoming quite chique. If the normal rules of economics prevail, prices will rise as popularity increases. So, don’t cook it. We want to avoid inflation here in Ireland. Things are bad enough. It is not as nice as it looks so don’t cook it. Please. I speak from bitter experience. I bought some beef ribs and decided not to follow Richard McGary’s excellent celeriac mash recipe because I know better. I also decided to use four bulbs of garlic as a bed for my beef. Big mistake, you would not like the mellow flavour released over five hours of slow cooking. I compounded my errors by making a red wine gravy from the slow cooking juices. Don’t try this. The end result is awful. Just to be on the safe side, here’s the list of ingredients to avoid:

  • 2 beef short rib racks (enough to feed eight)
  • 3/4 of a bottle of strong red wine.
  • 4 bulbs of good garlic. 8  if you are using Chinese stuff from the supermarket.
  • 1 celeriac
  • About the same weight of potatoes as celeriac
  • Salt, pepper and balsamic vinegar
  • Milk and butter for the mash

Here’s what I did so you can avoid doing it, not that you will be buying the short ribs anyway. I seasoned the meat on all sides and splashed on some, but not too much, balsamic vinegar.

Beef Short Ribs

The ribs seasoned and not over splashed with balsamic vinegar.

I popped the beef into a hot oven (220 degrees C) for half an hour.

Beef Short Ribs

After half an hour at high temperature. Looking good but you would not like it.

Then I took it out and lifted it out of the roasting pan. put in a bed of garlic cloves and returned the beef.

Beef Short Ribs

Lots of garlic. It turns a beautiful sweet flavour in the long roasting. But, you need not try it.

I poured in the wine. I used a pretty decent Ripasso. That does not matter because you will not be cooking this dish.

Beef Short Ribs

An obligatory pouring shot. The good wine added. What a waste, I hear your thoughts.

I turned the oven down to 150, covered the dish with foil and put the beef back into the oven. I left it there for four and a half hours. I took the beef out, poured off most of the wine / beef liquid into a pot and returned the beef to the oven for another half an hour.

During the beef cooking time, I got to look at the celeriac. My eldest wanted to know why I was cooking a vegetable brain.


The brains of this operation. The celeriac root does look pretty odd.

I peeled and chopped this and steamed it for roughly as long as I did the potatoes.


Chopped celeriac in a bowl of water to prevent it turning brown and yucky.

When they were cooked, I drained the pot of water and added the celeriac and potato, milk and butter. I mashed them until they were smooth. Then I gave them another go to be sure. This is not relevant as you will not like or cook this dish. I don’t know why I am writing about it.

I removed the beef from the oven and left it to rest for 10 minutes.

Beef Short Ribs

One for the camera. the ribs and garlic look pretty good. Not worth cooking even though the beef is pretty cheap.

I used the time to  separate the fat from the rest of the cooking liquid and reduce it in a pot. I put about 600ml of wine into the dish and the final reduction is about 100ml. The flavour was intensely beefy and winey. You would not approve. I added a small amount of roux (flour and butter mixed together) to thicken and glaze the sauce. While it looked very nice, you would not like it. Trust me. You don’t want to prepare this dish.

I cut the beef, sat it on a pile of the celeriac mash, served a few sweet garlic cloves on the side and poured the sauce over it before serving.

Beef Short Ribs

Hard to convince you that this is not the best thing you will eat all year. Please don’t.

While my lot scoffed theirs and were totally approving, think of the economy, think of inflation. Don’t do it!

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Latest comments
  • Those last two photos made a believer out of me. That garlic!

    • It’s pretty good stuff Rosemary. Though, I am starting to run low…

      • Feck the economy……I HAVE to make this😂

        • Thanks Eilis. You made me smile this morning.

      • Hi Conor. I made this and LOVED it. Uber thanks😘 Now, I’m wondering…..could a chicken be done in a similar way…..? Cooking for my sis’s birthday on Friday and planning 2 chickens.😊

    • My goodness, that looks and sounds good! I’ll have to run right out and not try it, since it I will obviously hate it. I think it is a little too late for the cost of the short ribs in Canada though, sigh.

      • This is not good news. My Toronto based daughter tells me all meat is outrageously priced. I hate to see the short ribs getting expensive, despite my advice!
        Thanks for visiting and for the great comment,

  • Conor,

    My favourite, looks lovely, did a short rib braised in stout last winter! And yes, as soon as everybody discovers the so called cheaper cuts, which isn’t that cheap also, it becomes more expensive. So please listen to Conor so that the rest of us has something nice and cheap to enjoy!

    Love your recipe and what you did here!



    • I love the stout idea Willie. I reckon it must have been beautiful.

      • I’m a newby visitor to your blog but laughed out loud at the Jacobs Ladder (don’t cook it, you won’t enjoy it) recipe. I am doing it now – sorry. But you are so right – beef cheeks, oxtail etc are now not much less expensive than chicken!

        • Hi Hen,
          Thanks for the visit and the kind words. I am so disappointed in you not heeding my warning. Having said that I had fun with shin beef on the bone last weekend.

  • That doesn’t look absolutely delicious at all Conor, I therefore definitely won’t be doing this in the very near future (say, this weekend) for fear of similar prices hikes in my local area. Advice taken…

    • Hi Phil, I’m glad I got my message through. Don’t do it!

  • Thank goodness for the internet otherwise I might have had to experience this to my bitter cost!!

  • I definitely won’t be cooking this, Conor – what were you thinking?!

    • Thanks be to goodness. You would NOT like it.

      • Conor, I’m in the Cotswolds having eaten my first Jacobs ladder bought in the trendiest butchers in the area. After devouring it with roasted vegetables and a red wine gravy my friends googled the cut as none had heard of it before. Your blog came up first and we laughed at your description. Not as much as I laughed when they mentioned the author and it was you!!!! Small world or what. Hope you’re in great form, Best Ken (Hutton)

        • Ha ha! That really made me laugh Ken. It is a small world indeed. I have been doing this for the past couple of years for a bit of escape and for fun. It is bizarre who reads it and where they are. I went into a wine shop in St. Emilion today and the lady there told me she was a regular reader. That was before admitting to it. Small world indeed. I hope you in top form (as you always seem to be). I am on hols BTW, I have not yet moved to France.

  • If I had any intention of cooking this, which I don’t, I might thank you for the helpful pictures and method, but I won’t. Beef short ribs are probably one of my least favorite cuts of beef and I especially hate it when they get slow cooked so they just fall of the bone and melt in your mouth. Who wants to give up the joy of chewing? Not me.

  • Thanks for warning me off these horrid sounding and even worse looking ribs. Maybe you could post a warning about rib-eye steak too.

    • I think it’s too late for the rib eye. They have started their climb up the fashion ladder.

  • Whew….. That was a close call. I was *just* about to start cooking!

  • I just did short ribs with Porter. It was horrible! One cut that used to be cheap, at least here, is the pork sirloin steak. Price on this tender piece of meat has doubled. This dish looks about as awful as mine was! One question: What does celeric taste like? Celery? Best to you C – B

    • Hi Barb, yes it is the root of the celery plant. Pity yours was awful too!

  • You should have featured the celeriac and left out that nasty beef. You wouldn’t catch me posting about oven busters 😉

    • Hi MD, At the rate they are finding Polish horse additives here, I suspect the beef prices will fall. I hope so / not, if you know what I mean.

      • Don’t tell anyone this either, but horse is actually quite good and I’m not joking 😉

        • Indeed. I have eaten the genuine cheval burgers while in France. Pretty flavoursome. There is a great Chevalery (my word) in the covered market in Narbonne.

  • That looks delicious! I just put up a recipe for Celeriac & Walnut soup today on my blog. I think we all must have celeriac on the brains!

    • Great, given that my young ‘uns refer to it as the “vegetable brain”.

  • It’s exorbitant here already, I won’t be trying it 🙂

  • Conor, I’m so disappointed. 🙁 Cooking vegetable brains is bad enough. Then to go to a construction site and steal Jacob’s ladder to braise it with wine and garlic. 😮 What were you thinking???? I’m sure glad you didn’t post any photos of that debacle. Now, what is that delicious looking piece of meat upon that fluffy bed with that mouthwatering sauce? That’s what I am talking bout. It’s probably too expensive for me to afford, not to mention the long cooking time requiring unnecessary usage of our precious unsustainable, non replenishing fossil fuels. It also looks like beef which Baby Lady doesn’t eat. I won’t be cooking this but whatever it is, it sure looks good. 😉

    • Thanks Richard. You break me up sometimes. Perhaps it would work with pork. Though I have no idea what cut to use.

  • OMG! It looks so delicious …

    • Thanks Sanjiv. Think of the market price when commenting in future….

  • Mmmm… brraaaaaiiinnnnsss…

  • I don’t have much choice NOT to make this, because beef short ribs are incredibly hard to find around here 🙁 They look amazing, both uncooked and cooked. Great photos as usual!

    • Thanks Stefan for that. I am sorry you can’t try it. However, the non-availability will help keep the price down.

  • Looks aweful. Will make sure I stay well away from this recipe…

    • That’s right Gary, stay away from it. Think of the world price of Jacob’s Ladder / short ribs. Be selfless.

  • Regardless of the economy, ridiculous to think that beef ribs and garlic slowly cooked in red wine with a flavoursome mash would work as a delicious dinner. Crazy. I’ll only be trying it as I think we should spend our way out of a recession.

    • Funny enough, spending our way out might work. The 5 years of austerity certainly has not improved my mood or my bank balance.

  • Your sacrifice is unbelievable, Conor. We should applaud the lengths you’ve gone to here in order to save your fellow bloggers from this travesty of a meal. Thank you. 🙂

    • Thanks Luffy. I believe in doing my bit for my fellow humans.

  • I like the sauce method. I tend to get over excited with my sauces – I reduce and reduce till I’m left with a glutinous mass that is more like jelly than sauce. Next time I’ll stick a bit of roux in there. and your comment about things being bad enough in Ireland is making me think things over here are even worse than I feared – I mean Ireland isn’t mentioned in the news at present which means the British press must have lost interest in your misery only because ours is getting worse. Happy days!

    • I have made my fair share of brown bottomed pots in my own quest for thick sauces. Yes, it is satisfying to know that we are not the only ones up to our necks in it too.

  • Sadly, every time I find a relatively cheap cut, it becomes popularized by the foodies and then the price goes way up. I used to buy hanger steaks cheaply and last time I went to the butcher, they were $9.99 a pound! I guess we just have to stay one step ahead.

    • Hi Steph, yes, we either stay ahead or we collectively agree to blacklist certain cuts until the price falls. That could be fun.

  • I so glad that you explained why we shouldn’t prepare this dish…it cost, taste and work involved plus the strange vegetable. If you hadn’t, I sure I would have wanted to try it…the photos are so deceiving.

    • Hi Karen, it’s my public spirit rising (like the price of short ribs) to the top.

  • Of course the one problem living in the Antipodes and coming on late is that everyone has already put their thinking caps on and left writer’s block behind and whatever you want to say has been better said 🙂 ! So thank you for a recipe just printed out: think I’ll frame it as a bit of a kitchen decor – why not!! Look at it sometimes . . .

  • I came too late the comments. Which are great. Though not as great as your post, of course. Bravo!

    • Thanks Michelle, the early bird catches the cheap cut, as they say.

  • That last shot is enough to kill!

    • I liked that one. Even if the meal was awful…

  • Simply incredible looking. All that garlic around that beautifully cooked meat is divine. Anther winner Conor! 🙂

    • Thank you Danny. Loved your bedroom cat btw.

  • Those short ribs could not look any better than they do in your last photo, Conor. Serving them atop a celeriac mash is a great idea!
    You’re right, too, about their prices rising. Over here, once the cooking shows make note of some ingredient, it isn’t long before the prices rise. Short ribs have already gone up — hopefully no more.

    • I was watching a BBC food programme the other evening. They were showing how to cook the perfect pork roast. I had visions of empty shelves in every pork butcher in the city. People lack any real personal imagination. We marketing people love that…

  • Oh Conor. Thanks for this very helpful public service announcement. I won’t think about these gorgeous short ribs at all today. Nor will I even consider making them myself. You are truly a civic hero.

    • It is a duty, a calling and an honour to serve.

  • Sorry to be a pedant again Conor but celeriac is not the root of a celery plant, it is a separate yoke (a related varietal, a root vegetable with a bulbous hypocotyl says WIki) that happens to taste like (but not exactly like) celery. I’ll have a look for some French short ribs and try to confirm the un-necessity to cook this dish, as I won’t be adding to Irish inflation by doing the research. Tough job but someone has to make the sacrifice…

    • Yes Pip, I should have been more specific. Celeriac is the root of a specific type of celery that is grown for its root rather than for the stalks.

    • Do the French ribs Pip. They are worth a go. Particularly if our Irish inflation is unaffected.

  • I am sure this recipe needs to be in an upscale resturant —maybe like yours! Beautiful and it is dinner time here and you are making me very hungry. Take care, BAM

    • Thanks Bam, Best of luck with the new website. A brave move. Please keep us posted on how it develops.

  • I’ll be sure to “avoid” this… and by avoid, I mean make it and not tell anyone. Your secret is safe.

  • Since I’m in another country, I assume we have a green light. This meal looks so good there is not a proper adjective nor string of them to do it justice. I’d bring some lovely bread to soak up the sauce and slather the roasted garlic.
    What a meal. Thanks for posting it!
    And congrats on the award- I hadn’t seen it previously. Well deserved. cheers… wendy

    • Slather! Now there’s a great word I have never typed before.. Thanks Wendy.

  • Thank you for another eye festing recipe. Although I must admit my tast bud are now completely in shamble as they know I will never prepare it and give them the pleasure of tasting it.
    And all that good wine… saved from a dish that we will never enjoy.
    Thank you Conor, I always enjoy reading your blog and congratulations on your award.

    • Thanks Giangi. Kind words indeed. Your taste buds will recover quickly enough with the fine foods you tempt me with so often!

  • Delicious! One of the funniest posts I’ve read in a long time. How incredible is that last shot too, 🙂 Btw, as I’m in Australia and we seem to have an influx of plentiful cattle and ribs, does that mean I can make this dish in droves and improve the economy in Australia ?!? I certainly hope so!

    • Now that’s a great idea Alice. Hopefully, you will then need Irish beef to supplement the Australian and our exports will grow. Win win!

  • I’m sorry, I’m sorry. Market prices will have to be put aside this time. One must try all! Even though it tastes dreadful, I’m sure, one must persevere and taste such disasters as this.

    Fingers crossed I don’t ruin the market single-handedly…

  • Beef short ribs are one of my all time favorites, great blog you have going here.

    • Thanks Caveman. I appreciate it.

  • I purchased some of these only this week! I will definitely NOT try this for today’s lunch, to have with creamed potatoes, French beans, tender stem broccolli and finishing with banoffe pie…… Such a shame.

    • I suppose if you have them already, it would be a shame to waste them. Just don’t do it again!

  • I am so upset – I found the recipe by accident. My wife didn’t read the warnings and we ate it- do not eat or cook it is too scrumptious for words – fortunately there wasn’t much left for me. Amazing …… Ly awful.

    • Thanks be to goodness it didn’t live up to expectations. Best steer clear if it in future.
      Thanks for stopping by,

  • I’ve just this minute picked up a Jacob’s Ladder from my fabulous local butcher. I will *so* not be cooking it like this. Absolutely not. No sirree, Bob.

    • I am delighted to hear it. World prices have been reasonably stable of late and I would hate for you to start things off again.

      Thanks for stopping by the blog,

  • Born in Dun Laoghaire? My grandmother lived in a house on Belgrave Road, Monkstown for many, many years. Am very much enjoying your blog – have subscribed!

    • I grew up literally around the corner on Trafalgar Terrace. We had a few friends lived on Belgrave Road too.
      Great to have you subscribed.

  • Short ribs are the basis of a Korean dish that my wife makes all the time. Over the past few years, the cost has more than tripled–it used to be one of the cheapest meats you could buy. Not any more!

    • You have to carry the can for this. If everybody just stopped buying them, market forces would work in my favour.

  • Oh my! I understand the warning cause I am sure that once you’ve tried one rib you can’t ever stop eating this anymore …. byebye diet 😉

    • When there are recipes like these ribs, the diet has to take second place.

  • Oh dear, no wonder my butcher has just laughed at me when I parted with a whole £8 for two massive JLs for the second time this month…. what a complete waste of money, gas and garlic.Oh and the wine!

    • Yes, a complete waste of money and ingredients. Whatever you do, don’t try it!

  • This looks bloody awful. Going no-where NEAR this dish!

    • Sensible decicision. It really is advisable to stay away from it.
      Thanks for stopping by,

  • hmm, the reverse psychology is really work for me….

    • No Dedy! Don’t do it! Think of the world market.

  • Yup, it looks pretty damned awful (I certainly won’t try it).

    My butcher used to try to sell beef ribs (the long way around) a couple of years ago for pennies, but nobody wanted to buy them as their ovens/BBQs weren’t long enough. He is a grumpy old sod, but I noticed last week that he has discovered that he can cut them across the bone and sell them for 10x the price.

    I’m reminded of the butcher in the village that I used to live in, who complained that the only people (who apart from me) who would buy them was a Venezuelan family for some ‘strange South American BBQ dish’ that they made for their family. From memory, they would sell a whole rack to me for £0.50.

    Those were the days (but only 10 years ago)!

    • It’s a sad truth. The humble lamb shank, pig’s trotter and pork knuckle have all gone the same way. Skirt steak and flank steak have also fallen foul of the glare of publicity. I blame the J Olivers and H F Whittingstalls of this world for ruining this little wheeze we have enjoyed for so long. I suppose, like all good things, it had to come to an end. Still, the short ribs are incredibly tasty, no matter how much we have to pay.
      I love the idea of the grumpy butcher trying to sell the entire ribs and getting frustrated by his own lack of imagination. Thanks for the comment Paul. You made me smile.

  • The Ribs, Oh the Ribs!

    Mine are still aching from the laughter….

    • Thanks Mike,
      Too kind of you to say so. Just don’t go buying any of those ribs!

  • Stumbled across this while searching for Jacob’s Ladder. Don’t think I’ve ever laughed out loud so many times while reading a recipe. Brilliant writing.

    • Thanks Pete,
      Very good of you to say so. But, learn the lesson. Don’t cook those short ribs, what with the stock markets the way they are this week!
      Thanks for visiting and for the lovely comment.

  • Fantastic. I certainly won’t be doing this with some lamb in the next few weeks – no beef as we don’t have any cows!

    • It will be hard to get the short ribs off a lamb. Our local butcher sells lamb ribs and they are only good for saucing up and serving as a starter. Tasty starter mind you.

  • My son Conor + daughter Sorcha will home for Easter. I know they will offer it up by helping me ( not) relish this. I will be putting up the price in the UK so don’t Worry

    • I probably can forgive moving prices in the UK right now. This will be counterbalanced by Brexit and a huge fall in the value of sterling. We in Ireland will back in equilibrium before you can say “Boris for PM”.

  • How can I make Chicken taste like it use to?

    • Have a look at my Fool’s Stew, posted today. Tasty, for sure. On a more serious note, the only way to get really great tasting chicken is to go truly free range. They cost a small fortune but are worth it.

  • I just made this, and as warned it ruined my evening. I think it might be ruining a few more evenings in future too, especially if I have guests over.

    • I did warn you. But, you decided to go ahead anyway. You got what you deserved….

  • That looks like an abominable travesty of a meal Conor.

    A absolutely delicious abominable travesty.

    Rest assured I won’t be visiting my butcher’s for the ingredients any time before, oh, next Tuesday. Thanks for saving us all from culinary heaven.

  • Hi, COnnor, like your style, shame about the recipe. Shan’t be buying Jacob’s ladder again. Not this week, anyway!

  • Hi I love cooking Jacob’s Ladder but usually in summer so finish on the BBQ. I’m going to try this this weekend. My pieces are cut into individual ribs, do you think reducing the main cooking time by 1 hr is enough or do you think it needs less/as original recipe? I’m also only cooking for 2 adults and 2 young children so using approximately half the quantity you have in this recipe in case that makes a difference!

  • Visiting Birmingham retail market yesterday I noticed some particularly fine short ribs. I took your advice, and, following a quick stiffening of sinews and girding of loins etc. I declined to by them… to any great extent. I thought that they may in any case be particularly disappointing if served with some buttery, cheesy, polenta. Just to confirm, they are outrageously expensive in Birmingham, so don’t go looking for them there, fellow foodies!

  • I made this dish, Conor. Please help me, it’s my economy that’s suffering. Just bought some local organic beef to make it again tomorrow. My husband knows and there’s a strange look of longing in his eyes. I suspect it may be for the dish of the day…

  • Cooked this today, with beef from our local farmers’ market, and you were so right to warn us not to – it caused a massive outbreak of gluttony in our household and it won’t just be the once!

  • We’ve made this a few more times now and still would not recommend it. We’ll continue to make it to check to see if we should recommend it in the future but we probably won’t.

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