Short ribs–although they may all be called by the same name–come in many forms.
There are the the single bone, English-style short ribs with a thick ribbon of meat attached, terrific for braising in beer or wine with a bit of tomato and aromatics (like this recipe: beef stew with a bone). There are the thin flanken or Korean-style short ribs, which are cross-cut sections that, once marinated, cook quickly over a grill or in a sauté pan (like this recipe: eat with your hands). Both of these are what you’ll find in restaurants, cooked to succulence and what I crave at home during this season. (Yes, there is already snow covering the ground here; so much for raking.)
But, if you buy a beef share, either a half or quarter, or even if you buy individual cuts directly from a rancher, the short ribs you end up with often are neither of these. Instead of these beefy short ribs generally found in the rib section, what whole animal buyers get is from the plate where the meat is more sparse, the bone thicker and the fat prevalent. Open a package of short ribs from your butcher, and you’ll often find a mixture of more and less meaty short ribs.
What to do?
I’m picky about the short ribs I use for braising. If there’sat least a one-and-a-half but preferably two-inch section of ruby meat running through the short ribs, I’ll trim them up and take the time to prepare them for a main dish. But more often than not, my short ribs are measly on the meat. (And bear in mind that the meat shrinks significantly after cooking.)
That’s when I get out the stockpot and make what many are now calling bone broth. Or, in old-fashioned terms, beef broth.
I make small batches of broth this way for a mid-week meal of minestrone, pho, French onion or beef barley soup and for weekend pot roasts, bolognese sauce and risotto.
Or you can sip it and drink to your health.
There’s nothing to it–other than two to four hours of unattended simmering. You can even make it in a large slow cooker.
You’ll end up with some bits of meat and plenty of grass-fed beef tallow–a long-lasting cooking fat that’s got the nutritional benefits and flavor that is putting it back on the “good to eat” list for some–and an elixing broth that you could never, ever get from a can or carton.
Short Rib Stock, aka Bone Broth
Makes about 6 cups
3-4 pounds beef short ribs*
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
1 medium carrot, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
8 whole peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon dried
1 bay leaf
- Rub the ribs with the salt, and put them in a stockpot or slow cooker. Add the onion, carrots, tomato paste, peppercorns, thyme, and bay leaf. Pour 1 1/2 quarts cool water over the bones.
- Bring the water to a boil over medium-high heat (or high in a slow cooker). Use a slotted spoon or ladle to skim the foam and particles that rise to the surface. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and adjust it as necessary to maintain a slow, steady stream of small bubbles for 2-4 hours. The longer the stock simmers, the stronger it will be.
- Use tongs to transfer the short ribs into a bowl and set them aside. When the short ribs are cool enough to handle, trim the meat from the bones, discarding all the bones and excess fat.
- Strain the stock through a fine-meshed strainer, discarding the vegetables. If you intend to use the stock immediately, leave it undisturbed for 10 minutes then de-fat by ladling off and discarding any yellowish liquid from the surface. Or, place the stock uncovered in the refrigerator to chill at least 6 hours until the fat congeals into a thin layer on top. Use a spoon to lift off the fat and save it for cooking. Store the broth in the refrigerator for 1 week or in the freezer for up to 6 months.
*For a deeper flavor, roast the short ribs on a sheet pan in a 400-degree F oven until very well-browned on both sides.