Why are short ribs so expensive?
- lqf Jan 31, 2005 05:08 PM
I've followed recent short rib-related threads with great interest and whetted appetite, but cannot understand why this cut is so expensive, considering the proportion of bone, fat and inedible tissue to meat, however delectable when well prepared. Any explanation?
I live in central Texas. The biggest grocery store chain in the state, HEB (the initials of the late founder, Howard Edward Butt), usually prices them at $2.99; right now they're $2.79. A few months ago they went up to $3.99 for a while and then came back down. Super S, a smaller chain in the area, has them for $1.99, sometimes (like now) $1.79, and every once in a while $1.39, and they are just as nice as the ones at HEB, i.e., very good quality.
I think that people are not as familiar with the less tender cuts and tend to overpay for them. Also, these days, most beef comes into a supermarket in primal cuts - (i.e., chucks, tenderloins, etc.) as opposed to carcasses. Grocers order just what they sell and therefore, it is harder to find certain cuts (flanks, etc.).
When you were cutting from front and hind quarters, you had to sell the whole thing. Less tender cuts were priced to move.
In general, if you want a good variety of cuts, you are better off heading to the smaller ethnic supermarkets. Personally, we buy most of our meats from small butchers in the various Mexican markets in Chicago. They have a wide variety of cuts with nearly all cuts under $4/lb. No, it is not a place where you will find dry aged prime beef. It is however, a place where you will not find bottom round steak mislabeled as flank steak like you find in some of the chain supermarkets.