Not a dish I'd often think of for a healthy dinner, with all that streaky fat grinning up at you from the supermarket tray, but my wife took a hankering for beef short ribs tonight and talked me into it.

This being old-fashioned country-style comfort food, I decided to forgo the gor-may approach and went back to the classic for inspiration. That's right, this two-stage cooking procedure comes essentially from none other than "The Joy of Cooking."

Put a couple of celery stalks, a large carrot and a large onion in a large pot of water and bring it to the boil. Put in about 3 pounds of short ribs (there's not much meat on these fellers, so it takes well over 1 pound to serve one); cover, reduce heat to very low, and simmer for two hours.

Toward the end of this period, slice one sweet onion into thin rings and sautee them in a little bit of olive oil until they're soft and starting to brown, adding a little quality beer (I used Samuel Smith's Winter Warmer) to add flavor and keep them from sticking. Remove the ribs from the liquid and add them to the frying onions, turning occasionally and adding a little more beer, while you make a thin "gravy" from 2 cups of the rib cooking liquid and a couple of tablespoons of flour dissolved in warm water.

Turn the ribs, onions and liquid into a shallow roasting pan and pour about half of the gravy around them. Pop into a 350 oven and cook for another 45 minutes or so, turning occasionally, until the ribs turn crunchy on the outside, falling-apart tender on the inside, and very dark brown.

Serve with mounds of steaming mashed potatoes, the pan sauce and the remaining gravy, with bread and a salad to make it a meal.