What to do with Short Ribs?

I got some beef ribs and some stuff called boiling beef that looks like ribs.  What the heck am I supposed to do with them?

Braise them and they’ll be beautiful.  Especially if you make a barbecue sauce to go on them and finish them on the grill.

First, season them.  I like a nice chili rub: salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, cumin, and paprika.  Throw in a couple more kinds of pepper if you have them on hand; just adjust the toal amount of pepper used to match your idea of how spicy they ought to be.  I like to mix my spices together and taste them alone before I add them to my meat, just to make sure I like the combination of flavors.  At that point, I adjust as necessary.

So, rub your ribs with the spices and sear them quickly in a very hot cast iron skillet.  Transfer the ribs to a pan with a rack and a vary tall lip, cover them, and put them in a 250F oven for about three hours.  I repeat: make sure the pan has a tall lip–these ribs will drip a whole bunch of fat as they cook, and you don’t want it to land on the floor of your oven.

I like to save this fat when the ribs are done cooking.  You can pour it off into a mason jar and store it in your fridge.  This’ll be really good lard to saute with.  Also, if you happen to make a beef pot pie, you can use it as the fat for the pie crust to really pull the flavors of all of the layers to pull together….

As soon as you take the ribs out of the pan— deglaze the skillet with a bottle of good, dark beer.  Be quick!  You don’t want the stuff that came off the ribs to burn!  Stir with a wooden spoon to gather the fond of the bottom of the pan.  Bring the beer to a b oil then reduce the heat to a simmer.  Let the beer cook down.  When it’s reduced by two-thirds, whisk in some ketchup, mustard, molasses, pure maple syrup, and the spices you rubbed the beef with (minus the salt).  Whisk smooth, taste, and adjust to your liking.

Once the ribs have finished braising, slather them with the barbecue sauce you made and hit them onto a hot charcoal grill right quick to caramelize the sauce on them.  Devour with gusto (and a cloth napkin handy).

8 Responses to “What to do with Short Ribs?”

  1. mom Says:


    To the best of my knowledge, lard is the fat from swine. Am I mistaken or did you make a mistake when referring to the fat from the short ribs as lard?

  2. jim Says:

    My favorite short rib recipe came from Blue Hill Restaurant in NYC via Runner’s World (the chef is a runner). Here’s a link to it: http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,7120,s6-243-297–8910-0,00.html

  3. jwsharrard Says:

    Technically, I suppose, lard does specifically refer to rendered pork fat. I use the term loosely to refer to any rendered animal fat that can be used for cooking.

    There are probably species-specific names for rendered fat (chicken fat, for instance, is known to Jewish cooks as schmaltz and is a key ingredient to any matzoh ball recipe).

    I have no idea what the species-specific name for fats from other animals are, and can find no reference in the likeliest of my reference books to fill in these gaps in my vocabulary.

    Larousse Gastronomique refers to the broad classification as “economy fats” and of them says, “It goes without saying that… drippings of various kinds should be carefully collected and preserved” though the volume also notes that “care should be taken never to use mutton dripping in this way.”

    I have never actually had mutton, but I do recommend lamb drippings for various purposes—especially in place of melted butter to prepare a hollandaise to accompany grilled rack of lamb and asparagus.

  4. Adam Fields Says:

    Raw beef or mutton fat is referred to as suet, while rendered suet is tallow. Drippings are drippings. Lard is pig fat. Leaf lard is what’s usually called for in baking, which is pig fat from around the kidneys.

  5. Pesto Says:

    Schmalz can also refer to other rendered bird fat — goose fat was a very common kind of schmalz for Ashkenazic Jews, partly because geese were relatively plentiful in Eastern Europe and partly because geese have so damn much fat in them.

    Speaking of Eastern Europe, another really good recipe for beef short ribs is a tsimmes — this is Jewish/Russian/Eastern European stew made with dried fruit and potatoes. You can make them with or without meat. A basic recipe with 2#s short ribs:

    Rub the short ribs with paprika, and brown in a large, heavy casserole (you can use neutral oil, or some kind of animal fat if you prefer, although the flavors are strong enough in the dish that you might as well use neutral oil). You’ll probably have to do this in batches.

    When all the shortribs are browned, put them back in the casserole with enough hot water to cover comfortably, bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, cover, and cook for an hour. Skim the foam from the liquid.

    Add 1# large-cubed potatoes, 1# carrots in large pieces, cover loosely, and cook for 20 minutes. Add 1/4 cup brown sugar. Add 1# large-cubed sweet potatoes. Cover loosely and cook for another 20 minutes. Check veggies to see if they’re soft enough to poke easily with a fork or skewer.

    Also, check the level of liquid in the pot. If it’s getting a bit dry, add some more water you’ve boiled separately, or heated up in the microwave.

    Add 1/4 to 1/2 cup prunes, and 1/4 to 1/2 cup dried apricots (I prefer California to Turkish, because they’re more tart). Add another 1/4 cup brown sugar. Cook for another 20 minutes and serve.

    If you like matzoh balls, you can add a batch before you add the dried fruit. Note that matzoh balls soak up liquid like sponges, and they need plenty of room as they expand, so you’ll need to make sure there’s plenty of liquid in the pot before adding them. I suggest a heavier matzoh ball in this recipe, even if you generally like lighter ones — don’t separate the eggs and beat the whites — the stew is too heavy for fluffy matzoh balls. Make sure to let them cook for 15-20 minutes before you put in the dried fruit.

    This recipe makes a lot of food, and it’s very rich and heavy. It keeps very well, though, and like most stews it’s better as leftovers than right off the stove. I’ve never frozen it, but I imagine it would freeze fine. And it’s pretty flexible, too. You can add more potatoes, of more carrots or sweet potatoes if you like, or use different dried fruit, like raisins, if you want, or flavor it with honey instead of brown sugar.

    Note that sweet potatoes tend to dissolve a bit in this recipe. The white potatoes and carrots will tend to soften but keep their shapes.

  6. jwsharrard Says:

    According to what I’ve been taught (and backed up by a quick reference to Joy of Cooking), “True beef suet is the pure, pearly, crumbly fat that surrounds the kidneys [of a beef steer]. Beef fat from other parts of the animal, though often sold as suet, is not the same thing….”

    Harold McGee, in On Food and Cooking, instructs me that what I referred to in my original recipe as “lard” should actually have been referred to as “tallow,” which he defines as “Rendered beef fat.”

    So, I believe we have three categories of rendered fat assigned titles: lard=pork; tallow=beef (with suet being a separate, specific category of beef fat from around the kidneys), and schmaltz=fowl.

    Continued explorations into other texts have yet to yield names for fats from sheep, goats, venison, or other commonly eaten fauna.

  7. jim Says:

    Have you checked Escofier?

  8. jwsharrard Says:

    The only fat Escoffier names is lard; otherwise he refers to fat by species and where obtained–so, for what we have previously defined as being suet, Escoffier refers to only as beef kidney fat.

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