I can’t say I remember the first time I ate beef short ribs, but whenever that was, it must not have been very memorable because I never really fell in love with them. This is probably because they reminded me so much of pot roasts, which, for a number of personal reasons I won’t go into, never left a good taste in my mouth.
Beef short ribs, like their poorer cousin beef pot roast, take time to make well. But time isn’t the only prerequisite for making memorable short ribs.
Just what are memorable short ribs? Here’s my own personal criteria:
- Gotta choose the right ribs–meaty but with great specks of fat marbling throughout. Not too fatty, not too much bone.
- Ideally cut about 2” thick.
- Seared in hot oil on all sides until well caramelized to develop good color (and flavor).
- Cooked in a VERY flavorful liquid of good beef stock (or broth) and my secret flavor boosters of soy sauce and honey. More about that later.
- Cooked VERY slowly (basically poached) over a long period of time (3 to 4 hours minimum) until the meat is falling off the bone tender, but not bleached of all of its fat and natural beef flavor.
- Served with a sauce (made from the cooking liquid) that’s not too thick and seasoned ever so slightly. It should be medium-dark in color, sticky from the addition of the gelatin in the rib bones, and so savory that you’ll enjoy it as much as the ribs themselves.
All this, if you do it right, will result in ribs that are neither dry, stringy or chewy. They’ll change your notion of short ribs being a poor man’s steak.
Ironically, pound per pound, great short ribs are more expensive to make than beef tenderloin. Go figure.
How do you go about making these great short ribs?
Before you click over to the recipe, keep in mind that you really should have a heavy-gauged saucepot to sear then cook your beef ribs. It should also have a rather tight-fitting lid. Second, I’m not a proponent of using a pressure cooker (although you can use one to shorten the cooking time by almost half). I prefer the longer, slower cooking method. This will develop more flavors in the sauce, and in my experience, maintain the integrity of the meat shapes.
The recipe can be found in a blog I wrote last year entitled The Tender Trap, is Braising Tough Love?
Now while I don’t completely endorse it, this recipe can be rather successfully used with beef chuck roast cut into 3- to 4-inch pieces. The finished sauce will be nearly the same, but the meat will (because it is a different cut) be a bit less tender and a smidge less moist. (I know that’s hard to believe since it will have cooked in a liquid for hours, but it’s true).
When you stop into Nino’s, let our butchers help you pick out the short ribs for your recipe. We want your recipe to turn out as great as you do!
And here are a few other tips:
- Purchase a low-sodium soy sauce if possible.
- Kitchen Basics brand beef stock works well.
- Cut your veggies into large 1” pieces. Cutting them much smaller will allow too much vegetable flavor into the sauce.
- Any honey will do.
Lastly, this is a recipe that, once finished, can be frozen quite successfully in 1-quart plastic storage containers. I suggest you make a large recipe, so you can enjoy it throughout the cold winter months.