There are a lot of threads on here about braised short ribs, but the question addressed in the last two posts of this one seemed like a good segue for some of my questions so I figured this was as good as any to resurrect. If my questions are addressed in other threads on braised short ribs, please direct me to them!
Ok, so I was watching football all day on Saturday (Go Gators!) and I wanted something slow cooked that would be delicious, hearty, and fulfilling as the weather begins to get slightly cool in my area. Chili would seem to be a natural option, especially given the football watching, but I opted for braised short ribs. This was my first try at making them so instead of getting creative I decided to follow the Joy of Cooking recipe to the letter. The result was good, but not as good as I know it could be. The first issue was seasoning - the whole thing felt a little underseasoned to me. This is easily adjusted, but since there are three major steps where I can up the seasoning I thought I'd ask - should I increase the seasoning directly on the short ribs before searing, on the mirepoix before adding liquid, or to the whole "pool" once the ribs are back in the braise? The answer may just be "all three" but again, it never hurts to ask.
Next question, how far should I take the searing of the short ribs? Light brown? Golden brown? Dark brown like a crust on a nice steak?
Finally, and the question which drew me to this thread - how high up should the liquid go? Another related question - how big of a vessel should I use? In this case I used a 5 qt dutch oven for 3 lbs of short ribs which meant that there was very little if any pileup in the vessel. This also meant that using Joy of Cooking's recipe which calls for 1 1/2 cups of liquid, the liquid only covers the short ribs about 1/3 of the way up for the bigger meatier ones.
I've seen a lot of folks say that the only way to know when they're done is by checking. Fingers, forks, nose, and eyes...but how often should I check in on them? Is there anything lost each time I open the oven, take off the lid and poke around? I'm not intending on doing this every five minutes, but I also don't want them to go too far.
I have a few more questions about the sauce, but I know there is another thread which addresses that in more detail... Thanks for any input!