Ribs tip #1: Visit the butcher
Although short ribs have gained popularity over the past few years, you may not be able to find them in your local grocery store. Larger markets such as Whole Foods or Costco typically do carry boneless short ribs, but your best bet is to go to your local butcher or maybe a farmer's market that carries meat products. Because short ribs are very popular in Asian style cooking, Asian markets in your local Chinatown or Korea town will likely have a good selection of bone-in short ribs, too.
Ribs tip #2: Know your short ribs
There are three styles of short ribs typically available.
- The English Cut is when the ribs are separated and cut into 2-inch pieces
- A Flanken Cut (mostly used with Asian dishes) has been cut across the bone and is usually about 1/2-inch thick
- The most common is Boneless Steak.
Whether you choose short ribs that are on or off the bone, you will still end up with tender and flavorful beef.
Ribs tip #3: Buy the right amount
If buying boneless ribs, a half-pound per person should do. If buying bone-in ribs, it is better to go with one-pound per person.
Ribs tip #4: Cook ribs promptly
Short ribs should be kept in the refrigerator until it's time to cook them. But try not to keep them longer than four days.
Ribs tip #5: Trim and score
Before you cook ribs, trim off any excess fat and score the remaining fat layer with small crisscrossed slits.
Ribs tip #5: Marinate
If a recipe calls for a wet or dry rub, start marinating the ribs as soon as you bring them home. Let them marinate for up to three days.
Ribs tip #6: Tie them up
Whether you are using boneless or bone-in, the ribs should be tied with butchers twine because once they become tender, the meat will fall apart – the twine will help keep their shape.
Ribs tip #7: Be patient
Making short ribs can be a lengthy process, but there is not a lot of hands-on cooking time, just braising time. You will typically want to prepare the short ribs the day before you serve them because you will want to remove any fat that has congealed after the cooking and chilling process. Short ribs can take anywhere from 2 to 10 hours to cook, but the actual preparation is simple and quick.
Ribs tip #8: Pick your cooking method
Braising, smoking, slow-roasting, or cooking in a slow cooker in liquid such as stock or jus are the best short rib cooking methods and will yield the tenderest results. Before adding them to the liquid, be sure to sear the short ribs in a hot skillet on all sides.
Ribs tip #9: Let them sit
Once the meat is cooked and tender, chill the ribs overnight. Then remove any fat that has congealed and reheat.
Ribs tip #10: Flavors and sides
Short ribs tend to pair well with bolder flavors. Braising ribs in red wine is a delicious way to bring out the flavors of both the wine and the meat. Herbs and spices such as thyme, rosemary, ginger, star anise, juniper berries, bay leaf and cilantro are good choices as are garlic and mushrooms.
- A wet rub of molasses, soy sauce, or flavored oil can add a lovely layer of flavor. And make sure your braising liquid contains carrots, celery and onions (truly the base of any good stock).
- Typically Asian flavors work especially well, so think about your favorite Chinese, Korean or Japanese dish and recreate some of those flavors with your short ribs.
- Serve horseradish or crème fraiche on the side as a dipping sauce or as a dressing on a sandwich. Mashed potatoes (with truffles), noodles (especially spatezel), or rice are the perfect accompaniments.
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