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The ideal 5-in-1 meal

Updated: March 10, 2011 11:49 AM EST
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By Gail Belsky

What dish can you cook once -- and eat five different ways on five different nights?

Answer: braised short ribs.

The initial one-pot meal takes less than an hour to prepare, followed by three hours of slow cooking in the oven. But if you double the recipe, you'll have enough left over to create four more ideal meals to finish off the week.

Just shred the beef and keep it in the fridge along with the braising juice and leftover vegetables. Or, separate and freeze for later use.


Night 1: Braised short ribs

There are plenty of ways to cook braised short ribs, but the classic includes a combination of red wine, carrots, celery, onions, garlic, thyme, and canned tomatoes or tomato paste. Look through your favorite cookbooks or search online to pick out a recipe you like.


Night 2: Short-rib shepherd's pie

  • Saute one chopped carrot and one chopped onion, or heat leftover short-rib vegetables in a little braising liquid.
  • Add 2 cups of shredded meat, sprinkle with flour, and continue to saute, stirring for a few minutes.
  • Add 1 cup of red wine, bring to a boil, and stir until thickened.
  • Add 1 cup of frozen peas. Salt and pepper to taste.
  • Pour into a 9-inch square or small, rectangular baking dish and top with creamy mashed potatoes.
  • Bake at 350 F until bubbly and slightly browned on top (around 30-40 minutes).


Night 3: Pulled short-rib sandwiches

  • Pile shredded beef onto rolls.
  • Add your favorite condiment or sauce: pesto, hoisin sauce, Korean barbeque sauce, coleslaw, relish, horseradish mayo, etc.
  • Optional: grill on crusty bread with cheddar (or provolone) cheese and thin-sliced red onions. Kids can eat theirs plain on hamburger rolls as Sloppy Joes.


Night 4: Short-rib ragu over pasta

  • Put shredded beef, leftover vegetables and braising liquids in a large pot.
  • Add:
    • 1 can of crushed tomato (with juice)
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 1 or 2 sprigs of thyme and 1 teaspoon of dried oregano
    • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Bring to a boil, and then simmer for 20 to 30 minutes.
  • Remove bay leaf and thyme, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup of cream or milk. Simmer another minute.
  • Pour short-rib sauce over pappardelle or rigatoni.


Night 5: Short-rib tacos

  • Reheat shredded meat in the microwave and load into soft or hard tacos.
  • Top with various taco condiments, like corn salsa, avocado, chopped cilantro, chopped raw onions, shredded Monterey Jack or other cheese, shredded cabbage or lettuce, sour cream, etc.


Gail Belsky
has worked on a variety of women's publications, including Parents, Working Mother and All You. She recently wrote a book for women entitled The List: 100 Ways to Shake up Your Life. She is the managing editor of Ideas That Spark.

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