Using cola in this short ribs recipe helps balance the spicy rub, but don’t expect the sticky-sweet oven-braised version of this dish. These ribs are rubbed with a spice mix and browned in the pressure cooker; then cola, soy sauce, and Worcestershire are added to make a flavorful, balanced cooking liquid. Just 30 minutes later, once the ribs have become fork tender, the sauce is thickened to make a beefy, savory gravy. Serve the ribs and sauce over mashed potatoes with an escarole and mushroom salad on the side.
What to buy: Look for the common English-cut beef short ribs, which are about 2 to 2 1/2 inches thick. Because of the thickness of short rib bones, have your butcher cut them crosswise into 2-1/2-inch-long pieces. Do not purchase Korean-style beef short ribs, which are about 1/4 inch thick with three rib bones attached.
Game plan: Though the CHOW Test Kitchen prefers a stovetop pressure cooker, this recipe can also be made in an electric model. Use the brown setting for steps 2 and 3, then proceed with high pressure cooking. Return the pressure cooker to the brown setting to finish the sauce in the last step.
4 to 5 pounds English-cut beef short ribs, cut crosswise into 2-1/2-inch-long pieces
2 tablespoonsolive oil
6 medium garlic cloves, peeled and smashed
1/2 medium yellow onion, small dice
2 cups cola (not diet), such as Coca-Cola
2 tablespoonssoy sauce
2 tablespoonsWorcestershire sauce
1Combine the salt, paprika, black pepper, cayenne, and cumin in a small bowl. Evenly rub the spice mix on all sides of the ribs; set aside.
2Heat the oil in a 6-quart stovetop pressure cooker over medium heat until shimmering. Working in batches, add enough short ribs to cover the bottom of the cooker without crowding them. Sear, turning occasionally, until the ribs are browned on all sides, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a large plate and repeat with the remaining ribs.
3Add the garlic and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 4 minutes. Add the cola, soy sauce, and Worcestershire and, using a wooden spoon, scrape up the browned bits from the bottom of the pressure cooker.
4Return the ribs to the pressure cooker, turn to coat them in the sauce, and lock the lid in place. Increase the stovetop heat to high and bring the cooker to high pressure. Reduce the stovetop heat to medium and cook for 30 minutes, adjusting the heat as necessary to maintain a visible, steady stream of escaping steam. Meanwhile, set a strainer over a large bowl; set aside.
5Remove the pressure cooker from the heat and allow the pressure to come down naturally for 15 minutes.
6Carefully quick-release any pressure left in the cooker, then remove the lid (keep your face away from the escaping steam).
7Transfer the ribs to a large plate and set aside. Pour the liquid through the strainer and return the contents of the strainer to the pressure cooker. Using a large spoon, skim off and discard the fat from the strained liquid and return the liquid to the pressure cooker (alternatively you can use a fat separator).
8Return the pressure cooker to the stove over medium-high heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Place the cornstarch and water in a small bowl, whisk to combine, and add half of the mixture to the pressure cooker. Cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is glossy and thickened, about 30 seconds (add more cornstarch mixture as necessary if you want a thicker sauce). Remove from the heat, add the reserved ribs, and turn to coat them in the sauce. Serve immediately.