What Is a Short Rib? (6 Ways to Cook It)

Timothy Woods
Published by Timothy Woods
Last Updated On: March 27, 2024

There are many popular cuts of beef, and each has its specific flavor and texture.

Every family has a unique recipe, often handed down from generation to generation, to cook beef short ribs to perfection.

Short ribs are one of those popular cuts of beef that tend to be a family favorite, whether it’s for a Sunday lunch or having a BBQ with friends.

But what exactly is a short rib? It's a cut of beef that’s tender, juicy, and full of flavor if it is smoked, cooked, or braised in a proper way.

Quick Summary

  • Short ribs are a cut of beef from the lower rib cage of a cow, known for their flavor and tenderness.
  • There are three primary cuts of short ribs: Back Short Ribs, Plate Short Ribs, and Chuck Short Ribs.
  • A 2023 study published in the National Library of Medicine investigated the impact of meat's electrical conductivity on Pulsed Electric Field (PEF) processing for beef short ribs, revealing that PEF can improve quality and reduce sous vide cooking time without significantly affecting cooking loss or color parameters [1].
  • Short ribs can be cooked in various ways, including braising, grilling, oven roasting, sous vide, slow cooking, and smoking.

What Are Short Ribs Exactly?

raw short ribs

Short ribs are beef ribs explicitly cut from the lower rib cage of a cow, just behind the brisket.

This is also referred to as plate ribs. In contrast, the upper part of the rib cage is often referred to as beef ribs or beef back ribs; this is the cut of meat that is most commonly known as prime rib roast or rib-eye steak.

The short ribs are a very versatile cut of meat, and therefore very popular for their flavor and fall-off-the-bone tenderness. There are three primary cuts of short ribs, and they are:

  • The Back Short Ribs – These are a more expensive form of short ribs. This cut comes from the rib primal after the rib is removed. Despite this cut being more expensive, it has less meat, but it is very tender.
  • Plate Short Ribs – This cut is the most popular for a BBQ. It comes from ribs six, seven, and eight, just below the rib-eye. The plate ribs, in particular, is popular to use because of the high-fat content in the meat. The fat in the ribs will make the flavor rich and juicy. It is a big cut and even meatier than chuck short ribs. It is also very tender.
  • Chuck Short Ribs – This traditional beef short ribs cut comes from the Chuck Primal in the shoulder section and is cut from ribs one to five. Most of the surface fat is trimmed off. This is a leaner and tougher cut of meat, so therefore it requires more braising or cooking time.

Other Cuts Of Short Ribs

  • English Cut – This beef short ribs cut is butchered parallel to the bone and not across. This method can be applied both to the chuck short ribs and the plate short ribs. This way, the ribs have a good layer of fat, and the silverskin or membrane can be removed.
  •  Flanken – This fancy cut ribs is done across the rib bone instead of parallel, thus making the length of the bone half an inch wide. Flanken ribs contain more hard fat making this an excellent cut for brining or marinating.
  •  Riblets – This cut of the rib is the cut that is often overlooked. It has individual chunks of small beef ribs, only a couple of inches long. This cut of beef short ribs is excellent for braising and slow cooking.

Which Part Of A Cow Does Short Ribs Come From?

A cow in grasslands

There are thirteen rib bones on each side of the cow’s torso. The meat is separated between the twelfth and thirteenth rib bones.

Beef short ribs are cut explicitly from the lower rib cage of the steer. The Chuck Short Ribs come from the first five rib bones, also known as the Chuck Primal.

Next, you have the seven rib bones on the Rib Primal. This cut separates the chuck, including the Plate Short Ribs and the Back Short Ribs.

Grading The Quality Of Short Ribs

According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) standards and regulations, there are two ways to evaluate and grade beef, namely Quality Grades and Yield Grades [2]:

  •  Quality Grade deals with the palatability of the beef; in other words, it specifies the flavor, juiciness, and tenderness, based on the degree of marbling (interweaving of fat with the rib meat attached) and its maturity. Quality Grade is most important for all beef cuts, including beef short ribs.
  •  Yield Grade determines how much usable lean meat is on the carcass. It indicates the percentage of closely trimmed, boneless retail cuts that can be delivered.

Prime beef has abundant marbling and tends to be the juiciest beef short ribs.

To ensure that your short ribs are as juicy and flavorful as they should be, it's crucial to source your meat from a reputable provider. That's why we recommend ButcherBox, a meat delivery service known for its exceptional quality.

How To Prepare Short Rib For Cooking

Cooked short rib on wooden plate

The beef short ribs have a top layer of fat that covers a thin layer of connective tissue (this is referred to as the silverskin).

Removing the silverskin from the meat is best as this connective tissue will not break down in the cooking process.

There is a heavy membrane at the backside of the beef short ribs; leave this membrane on the bone to help keep the meat together in the cooking process.

When preparing your beef short ribs, start by removing the fat and the silverskin on top of the ribs with a sharp knife. There will still be plenty of meat and fat content between the meat to ensure that it will be flavorful and moist.

According to chef Nyesha Arrington, you can get the best flavor from your ribs by applying a dry rub that consists of a 50/50 mixture of kosher salt and coarse black pepper.

Refrigerating the beef short ribs overnight will help the salt to penetrate the meat.

This simple yet efficient way of preparing your beef short ribs is definitely still the most straightforward and tastiest way to get the best out of beef short ribs.

Different Ways To Cook Short Ribs

Cooked short rib

There are many ways to cook beef short ribs (such as the slow cooker) and as many variations on those methods as there are cooks and chefs.

You can use these indications and improve on them according to your taste:

1. Braise

First, get some color on the beef short ribs by browning the braised short ribs on a stovetop. Then add some aromatics, wine, and beef stock. Finish braising ribs in the oven. Low and slow cooking is the recipe for the best short ribs.

2. Grill

Marinate the beef short ribs first (marinating it for at least two hours or overnight). Marinating meat helps to break it down, ensuring that it is tender. Flanken short ribs are the best cut for grilling.

3. Oven

First, cover the beef short ribs with a dry rub, something as simple as a 50/50 combination of coarse ground black pepper mixed with kosher salt. Then pop it into the oven at a low temperature.

4. Sous Vide

This cooking technique will give you the exact desired level of cooking every time. Sous vide means ‘under vacuum,’ involving sealing the food in a vacuum-sealed bag and cooking it submerged in water.

The sous vide method will achieve results that are impossible to achieve with any other cooking method.

5. Slow Cooker

You can also braise the beef short ribs in a slow cooker, using the same cooking method as with normal braising.

6. Smoking

Using the 3-2-1 method, low and slow is always the best way to smoke short ribs. This means cooking it at a temperature of 225 oF for about 6 hours.

Related Article: Types of Beef Ribs

Braised Short Rib Beef Stew Recipe

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds of ribs
  • 2 teaspoons of hot paprika
  • 2 tablespoons of smoked paprika
  • ½ cup flour
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1 chopped onion
  • Salt
  • 2 carrots
  • 4 strips of cut bacon
  • 4 chopped garlic cloves
  • 1 can of peeled tomatoes
  • 1 pound turnips
  • 2 pounds of Yukon Gold sweet potatoes
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil 
  • 2 cups of dry red wine
  • 2 cups of beef stock/broth

Instructions

  1. In a Dutch oven, cook bacon on medium-high until fat renders. Set bacon aside on paper towels, retaining the fat.
  2. Preheat oven to 300°F. Combine flour, paprika, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Dredge beef ribs in this mix, shaking off excess.
  3. Brown ribs in bacon fat for about 5 minutes per side. Set aside.
  4. In the same pot, cook chopped onions with some salt for 4 minutes, then add garlic for another minute.
  5. Add red wine, beef stock, and optional bay leaves. Scrape the pan's bottom, then add canned tomatoes and reserved bacon.
  6. Bring to a boil.
  7. Return ribs to the pot, cover, and cook in the oven for 2 hours.
  8. Add diced potatoes, turnips, and carrots. Cook until vegetables are tender and meat separates from the bone (30-45 minutes).
  9. Adjust seasoning, remove excess fat, and optionally, the bones.
  10. Serve stew using a slotted spoon.

Pro tip: Don’t go for the crazy expensive wines in slow-cooking recipes. Use a full-bodied wine, like cabernet sauvignon, merlot, or shiraz. Don’t use Pinot, as it’s too light.

References

1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36596162/

2.https://www.ams.usda.gov/grades-standards/carcass-beef-grades-and-standards

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About the author

Timothy Woods
CEO / Co-Founder
Timothy Woods holds a Kinesiology and Exercise Science degree from Jacksonville University and is CCC & GMU Certified. He's also the main man behind Carnivore Style. This food aficionado combines science and experience to spread the word about the carnivore lifestyle.
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