Move your oven rack to the lower half of the oven to accommodate your dutch oven. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
Season, then Sear, the Beef Short Ribs
Use your fingers to combine the salt and pepper in a small bowl.Season both sides of the short ribs with allof this spice blend.
Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a 7-quart dutch oven. Once the oil starts to shimmy in the pot, add 3 or 5 of the seasoned short ribs to the pot, pressing the meat down with your tongs or hand to make sure it adheres to the hot pot.
Once the oil starts to shimmy in the pan, press the short ribs into the pot with your tongs to make sure every bit of surface area comes in contact with the metal.
Sear the short ribs for 2 1/2-3 minutes without moving them. Remove the short ribs to a plate after searing them on top and bottom. Sear the second batch this way.
Deglaze the Pot
Add the chopped onions and garlic into the pot and use a wooden spoon to stir them while they sauté.Sauté the aromatics for 3-4 minutes, or until golden in color and glossy.
To deglaze the pot, add the merlot to the pot and allow it to come to a simmer. Once it begins to simmer, use your spoon to scrape up the stuck-on, browned bits of food from the bottom of the pot.
Finish the Sauce, then Braise the Short Ribs
Stir in the beef stock, diced tomatoes and their juice, the dijon mustard, thyme sprigs, and the bay leaves into the pot. Bring the mixture up to a boil.
Once the liquid begins to boil, return the short ribs and their liquids to the pot. Nestle the ribs into the sauce using your tongs, so they're partially submerged. Cover the pot and carefully transfer it to the preheated oven.Braise the short ribs for 2 1/2 hours.
Blend the Merlot Sauce and Serve
Remove the short ribs (and their bones) from the pot to a clean platter or plate. You can leave the bay leaves in the pot or remove and discard them. Remove the thyme stems from the pot and discard them.Use an immersion blender to blend the sauce on low speed until it is smooth. Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning with more salt and pepper to taste.
To serve the short ribs bone-in, just return them to the pot after blending the sauce.For boneless short ribs, pull the bones from the center of the short ribs using your tongs, then return the meat to the sauce.For boneless, shredded short ribs, shred the meat with two forks before returning it to the sauce in the pot until you're ready to serve.
Keep the short ribs warm on the stove over a low flame with the pot covered. Spoon the short ribs and their sauce, if you shredded the meat, or use tongs to nestle larger pieces of meat over mashed potatoes, grits, or cooked pasta.
Swaps and Substitutions:
Use chicken stock in place of beef stock if you don't have any.
You can use a low sodium beef stock in place of regular beef stock.
Use cabernet, zinfandel, or shiraz as a replacement for the merlot.
Replace the canned, diced tomatoes with fresh tomatoes.
Tips and Techniques:
Use short ribs labeled "beef short ribs" or "English cut short ribs."
It's important not to overcrowd the pan if you want a proper sear.
Add 1 tablespoon of oil if the bottom of the pot looks dry while searing the meat.
Remove the pan from the heat and allow it to cool if there's a good amount of smoke coming from the pan make sure your exhaust fan is on high because searing produces smoke.
You can easily lift the short ribs from the dutch oven at the end of searing because a crust has formed. Meat that sticks to the bottom of the pan needs to cook longer.
Choose a merlot that you would drink from a glass.
You can use a blender to blend the sauce if you don't have an immersion blender:
Carefully ladle it into a blender. Remove the plug from the center of the blender's lid, so the steam can vent.
Place the cover on the blender, then cover the hole in the lid with a kitchen towel.
Blend the sauce until smooth, then pour it back into the pot.
Transfer leftover beef short ribs and their sauce to an airtight container and store it in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Reheat short ribs on high in the microwave, stirring after each minute or until they are warmed through.
Allow the short ribs and their sauce to cool.
Transfer the short ribs to a freezer-safe container or freezer storage bag and freeze for up to two months.
Defrost frozen short ribs in the fridge overnight, then reheat per the above instructions.