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Cheese cloth & alternatives?

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Tonight I am going to braise short ribs for my big vday meal. I've never done before and the recipe said to bundle the fresh herbs in cheese cloth. Few questions with this - 1) where does one buy cheese cloth? 2) Are there alternative things to use? 3) Can you just wrap the herbs in string?

Also, if i'm letting it sit overnight in fridge, do i remove from the bone tomorrow?

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  1. are you planning on straining the braising liquid and reducing it down to make your sauce? if so, bundling the herbs is unnecessary. regarding the bones, they'll most likely fall out while cooking anyway because the ribs will get so tender.

    1. Just about every large grocery store will have cheesecloth. Look where they have the cooking utensils. Yes, you could also just wrap the in string.

      1. No need for the cheesecloth, it's simply to make the eventual removal of the herbs easier. I normally tie them together with a small piece of string,or fish them out later.
        When making short ribs, I normally do everything that I can to keep the bone attached, mostly so that it looks like a piece of rib on the plate. You do most certainly want to skim off the layer of fat that accumulates on top after cooling though. BTW, I prefer to do most of the braise in a slow oven after you've finished the browning. I find it easier.

        2 Replies
        1. re: koan

          In the short rib recipe I use (Balthazar) it calls for placing the herbs between two pieces of celery and tying that up - easy to fish out.

          1. re: MMRuth

            That's a brilliant idea- I'd heard of that before but had forgotten about it... making mental note again! On a side note, I've also seen people use carrots or celery as a roasting rack, which I also think is pretty clever!

            I have un-filled tea bags that I've used before in a pinch, but I'm assuming if you don't have cheesecloth, you probably don't have tea bags.

        2. could also use a coffee filter and tie that off as well

          1. You could also buy it in a fabric store but I'd go with the coffee filter idea if you have some. You can't buy one small sheet of cheesecloth.

            1. Do you have a first aid kit? A large sterile cotton pad with do nicely, believe me.

              1. Great ideas everyone! Thanks so much. This is the recipe i'm using, i'm pretty excited:
                http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recip...

                1. The supermarket usually has cheesecloth, but it's much cheaper in the paint section at Home Depot. The package says 'suitable for culinary use' so that's what we've done with perfect results.

                  For something small like a bouquet garni of herbs I have used a length of folded sterile gauze as a substitute.

                  1. I suggest getting some cheesecloth when you get a chance. One package of the stuff lasts for ages, but it really comes in handy when you need it. I really like it for wrapping rosemary in dishes where I don't want the needles--they always fall off even if you tie the bunch. I often find I'm glad I have it around.

                    1. I have a large stainless steel tea ball. It is a hinged mesh ball that opens and latches closed and has a chain and a hook to anchor it to the side of the pot. Is reusable indifinitely.