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Feb 2, 2005 01:44 AM

The short of my short ribs

  • c

Thanks for all the discussion lately on short ribs and those who responded to my recent query (see link). Braised the ribs (or technically rib) per my Balthazar recipe last night and enjoyed it for dinner tonight w/ wasabi mashed potatoes and steamed carrots w/ parsley. In short, very tasty but not sure this cut is worth the hype for me. I've had them in restaurants before, so had a point of reference.

Don't get me wrong--meat was very tender, melted in my mouth, but I've had some skillfully-made beef brisket (yes, brisket!) that tasted nearly as luscious. An hour into braising, the one bone at the end released itself and glided away from the meat (antithesis of fall-off-the-bone). Two hours into it, the meat had shrunk to a relative nub from its original glory, having rendered an *incredible* amount of fat. Three hours later and it was done. Reduced the sauce a bit then stuck everything in the fridge to sit overnight.

Makes it a lot easier to skim off the hardened lipid layer the next day, but well, that was most of the gravy. Added some beef broth to stretch out the reserved gravy. What was left of the gravy was complex and rich--the kind of sauce that made us lick the pan...maybe even the best part of the whole thing for me.

Would I make this again? Maybe, if the price and mood were right. If I'm missing something, hounds, please set me straight. Perhaps the 3-bone, cross-cut version makes a big dif., but for now, I'm happy to get my short ribs fix at restaurants instead. I'm going to experiment w/ dif. cuts (like shank) since the recipe can be easily adapted to any slow-roasted meat.


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  1. If your meat turned into a nub & rendered all fat, I'm going to guess that your braising temp was too high.

    6 Replies
    1. re: Tatania

      Yes, thought that might have been the case. What temp. do you normally braise something like this at? My Balthazar recipe instructed 325F for 3 hrs.

      My "nub" comment may have been a tad exaggerated, but I was really surprised how much fat came out of that baby.

      1. re: Carb Lover

        I doubt very much it has much to do with the temperature. Regardless of how much heat you apply, the temperature inside the pot is limited by the boiling point of water (until and unless things dry out, of course), which is why you can boil water quite nicely in a paper cup over an open flame - the water in the cup limits the temperature to 212, more or less, which is too low to ignite the cup.

        What does change is the vigorousness of the boiling, of course, but tests have shown that the finished product is pretty much identical whether simmered very gently or boiled vigorously. And the cooking time doesn't change either - again, because the temperature that meat encounters is not the oven temperature but the water (stock) temperature, which is always the same.

        Short ribs are intended to lose much of their volume and fat during cooking, so maybe what you have is normal. I know that when I make them the size decreases by about half, so I just allow for that when I start.

        1. re: FlyFish

          And yet when I've braised at a high temp, meat has come out as Carblover described, and at a long, low, slow simmer, much more tender and not particularly smaller. If slow and long is a myth, I'm stickin' to it.

          Made short ribs two weeks ago. My oven was on the fritz, I used my mighty Staub dutch oven and kept it at the *barest,* teeniest simmer for something like 4 hours. The meat kept its volume. Maybe a quarter of the ribs lost the bone. Then last week, made Boeuf Bourguignon from Mastering. She calls for 325, but I did 280 for kicks, and resolved to be patient. It was incredible.

          In both cases, there was some fat to skim the next day, for sure, but I think most of it ended up in my arteries.

          1. re: FlyFish

            Hmmmm...I can see what you're saying. By the second hour, the braising liquid was bubbling more heartily, so I did reduce the temp. from 325F to 300F--may not have made any real dif. though.

            I guess that I didn't expect the meat to shrink by half, but that's what happened. No wonder my recipe called for about 6 lbs. of ribs for 6 servings. My initial 1.5 lb. piece was just enough for the two of us.

            1. re: FlyFish

              Water boils at 212 but once you add salt, sugar, fat, and other items the boiling point changes. the oven temp does not need to be more than the required liquid temp. it just helps bring the liquid to temp quicker with a higher oven temp.

              1. re: Davey

                Yes - boiling point elevation (and freezing point depression) are both linearly related to the actual number of molecules of solute in the solution, a concept known as molarity when based on volume or molality when based on weight (because conversions between weight and volume in the SI (metric) system are based on water the practical difference is minimal). Another factor is atmospheric pressure, which in effect means altitude - as everyone knows, water boils at a lower temperature at higher altitudes (and pressure cookers make water boil at higher temperatures). My point only was that once the boiling point of a solution is reached, whatever the particular combination of molarity and ambient pressure determine it to be, it's not possible to increase the temperature by adding more heat.

                The somewhat related concept of boiling points of azeotropes is a lot more fun because it's basic to distillation of water/ethanol mixtures. 8^)

                Starting with higher oven temperatures to reach boiling quicker, then reducing to the minimum necessary to keep a simmer going, makes sense. I usually bring my oven braises to boiling on top of the stove, which is even quicker, then put them in the oven.

        2. I definitely prefer the brisket over the short rib.

          Also, I agree with Tatania that your braising temp. may have been a little high. When I braise difficult cuts of beef it takes more like 4 hours not 3.

          Better luck next time.