HOME > Chowhound > General Topics >


What are "short ribs" in the UK?

Title says it all.

I often see mention of them here and have a number of recipes from American cookbooks, but its simply not the name of cut of beef we have in Britain. Looking at photos, it doesnt seem to be a cut that's even readily available so I think would need to explain to the butcher exactly what I needed - unless there is actually a British name for them. Your help please.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I don't know the name, but in the U.S., one cut of short ribs is called "English cut", which suggests to may that they might be available. Best of luck - it's one of my favorite dishes to cook.

    "Short ribs come in two cuts: English and flanken. English cut, the most common, has a bone section usually 3" to 5" long, 2-6 bones wide, and is 1-2" thick."


    Edit: I also looked in my "All You Need to Know About the British Kitchen", which has a section on cuts of beef, but it doesn't discuss ribs other than prime rib aka wing and fore ribs.

    Another Edit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beef#Bri... - I wonder, based on this and some other reading, if short ribs are the shortest ribs in the Fore Rib?

    http://www.foodsubs.com/MeatBeefRibs.... - go down to "rib roast" - it talks about removing the "short ribs" from that roast, "half standing rib roast".

    http://www.foodsubs.com/MeatBeefB&amp... - refers to them as "flanken style ribs = kosher ribs = brust flanken = flanken short ribs." It refers to them as coming from the flank. And - "short ribs = flanken = chuck short ribs = barbecue ribs = braising ribs = English short ribs"

    2 Replies
    1. re: MMRuth

      I am thinking spare ribs. I am a Brit in the US although I don't eat pork so don't eat pig ribs but I did used to make beef spare ribs in England and was able to get those at a butcher.

      1. re: smartie

        Are they different from U.S. spare ribs, do you think - which I think of as being used to make BBQ ribs, rather than braised "short ribs"? I've actually never seen pork short ribs - though I've never looked for them. This weekend though, my husband had lamb short ribs at a restaurant.

    2. Good question! I've wondered that for a while. Short ribs certainly aren't as popular on restaurant menus in the UK (I really like them, but braised short rib sometimes seems ubiquitous on a certain kind of mid-range American menu). And you don't really see them in supermarkets or at the butcher's. I think the best way to explain to the butcher is to ask for "thin ribs" or maybe "beef barbeque ribs" or "the fatty ribs at the front above the rib eye"... I don't think you want spare ribs--they are the smaller, less fatty, meaty ribs behind the short ribs.

      1. On the almost certain assumption that Brit butchery won't be wasting this meat, I presume we must take it off the bone and sell it like that. Ruth's mention of "chuck" might be the clue as we definately see cubed chuck sold for stewing, etc.

        I think I may add a pointer to here from the UK board.

        Keep the ideas coming please. The answer is out there.......

        3 Replies
          1. re: greedygirl

            Good link. BTW - the "Argentine style" in photo isn't how I usually see them cut in the U.S.

          2. re: Harters

            Yes, chuck should be the clue, as short ribs in US supermarkets indicate they are beef chuck.

          3. Take a look at this blog from an American in London:


            If you scroll down to the “Meat Course” paragraph, you’ll find this quote:

            “Jon’s specialty over the past few months has been a braised short rib recipe he’s gaga over in Mario Batali’s Babbo cookbook. For my birthday dinner, Jon cooked this short rib recipe for 12. He preordered the short ribs from E. Wood, our local butcher, which required Jon to print off photos of the short rib from the Internet because our English butcher had no idea what a short rib was. Take note, in England, this bit of cow is called fore rib.”

            1. I'm interested in this as well, since I found a recipe for Korean braised short ribs and haven't been able to cook them yet, not knowing what short ribs are here in the UK. Sounds like fore ribs might be the answer. Will keep following the thread.Thanks!

              16 Replies
              1. re: Kagey

                Funnily enough, that's exactly the recipe that prompted my query.

                I don't think the answer is going to be fore rib (as that's what we'd call the roasting joint). I know a butcher through another (non-food) board and have now emailed him to see what he makes of things.

                1. re: Harters

                  You've really got me going now. I will ask my butcher at the weekend.

                  1. re: Harters

                    That is funny. Do let us know what you find out. The sad thing is, I don't even know what they look like in America!

                    1. re: Kagey

                      Would some photos help? Happy to post some links.

                      1. re: MMRuth

                        Oh yes, please do! Thanks! That will help me in my reignited quest.

                          1. re: MMRuth

                            Wow, thanks very much for that. They don't look like I expected!

                            1. re: Kagey

                              I think they look like what I guessed - like very very meaty pork spare ribs. But I've definately never seen these on sale anywhere in the UK. I see from one of the links they can be bought boned or bone-in.

                              They are too meaty to be thrown away by the butcher, so they gotta be deboned and sold as something else. They don't look big enough to provide the raw material for sliced of "braising steak" - so I think they must end up being diced into something for casserole/stews - maybe we''ll know it as "diced chuck steak". In which case, we just need a big lump of whatever the butcher chops up.

                              The quest continues............

                              1. re: Harters

                                Next time I go by the butcher, I'm going to ask him how he would tell a butcher to cut them.

                                1. re: MMRuth

                                  That would be really helpful, MMR.

                                  1. re: Harters

                                    I think that they may be what we buy in the UK as a rolled rib joint. I am not sure that butchers actually cut it down at all. May be wrong, but I have certainly bought rolled rib joints to cut myself. I'd be interested to know if others think this is a possibility.

                                    1. re: Harters

                                      I'll go by tomorrow. This is the butcher, by the way - he's hoot:


                                      1. re: MMRuth

                                        Hilarious! I don't think that T-shirt would fit him though.... Strangely, he looks very much like one of the Portuguese butchers in one of my local shops. They could be brothers, apart from the accent....

                                        1. re: MMRuth

                                          Oh - I've only just viewed this and love it. Where is Schatzi'e based? I want to buy his t-shirt for my three great butchers, attached here.

                                          1. re: Foodlexi

                                            He's in Manhattan - currently on Madison Avenue.

                      2. re: Kagey

                        Also .. the Korean cut is across the bone, in thin strips of meat with round bone segments in between, probably no more than 3/4 inch thick. Braised short ribs will use a longer piece of bone, four to five inches.

                      3. GOT IT!!!!

                        And foodlexi is spot on.

                        I was just flicking through a charity cookbook (the "Crisis Cook Book") which has a range of celeb chef recipes including an Alice Waters one for braised short ribs with potato parsnip puree.

                        The intro says "In the UK "short ribs" are usually sold as a rolled rib joint. Ask your butcher for beef ribs cut from either the rib or shoulder end and left on the bone."

                        What surprises me here is that a rolled rib is a prime roasting joint not something for braising. Hopefully one of us Brits will have a good butcher they can now approach. Unfortunately, it won't be me - as our village butcher is crap, as is his meat, and I won't cross his doorstep!

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: Harters

                          Excellent! I did look up a photo of a "rolled rib joint" and as you say, it looks like a roast - so I guess you need to ask for the ribs to be cut off from it. They really are absolutely delicious, so I hope you have cool enough weather to cook them soon!

                          1. re: MMRuth

                            "I hope you have cool enough weather to cook them soon!"

                            ROFL! We've had nothing but cool weather recently, sadly. And Harters does live in the land where it never stops raining. ;-)

                            My (excellent) butcher closed a few weeks ago, sadly, but I think I've found another one and this will be a good test, haha!

                          2. re: Harters

                            I'm with you, Harters. I don't have a butcher (even a bad one) anywhere nearby. There's a mobile one who comes with the weekly market, but he never has the cuts I'm looking for. Maybe I'll check in with him today just for a laugh. Maybe I'll end up making the Korean braised short rib recipe after all!

                            1. re: Harters

                              Relieved I got it right! Perhaps you could check this out:
                              I am working on meat cuts very very slowly, and in many languages. If there is anyone out there who could send me pictures of meat cuts from butchers or whatever, in different languages, I am slowly trying to identify the different cuts. My local (wonderful!) butcher has a book I have put together for him so that French, Portuguese, Mexican, Swedish people (and more) can go in to ask him for cuts in their own language and he can identify them!

                              1. re: Foodlexi

                                Excellent. The photo on your link is perfect and ties the story together.

                                Is this your website? An excellent resource if I may say so.


                                1. re: Foodlexi

                                  I see in the caption to that terrific photo you posted, Foodlexi, that it calls the cut a "fore rib"--and that's just what the American blogger I linked to above said she discovered the cut was called in the UK.

                                  I have a copy of a very old book (1977) called "The Meat Board Book" by Barbara Bloch that shows all cuts of beef, veal, lamb, and pork and gives alternate names for each of the cuts. It's strictly for the US market, but might be of assistance to you. It's long out of print, but I see there are some very inexpensive copies available at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Meat-Board-Bo...

                                  1. re: JoanN

                                    @ John
                                    Yes - http://whatamieating.com is my website. I feel a bit like Noah Webster, labouring away on this - so far with 61,000 entries in around 250 languages! I know that there are errors, but I really try to verify entries before I upload them. I know some get through and am always grateful if people let me know. Thanks for your kind comment!

                                    Yes - Many thanks indeed. I will certainly get a copy of "The Meat Board Book". I get in a fearful muddle with meat cuts. Sometimes I will find a listing for a Portuguese meat cut and I cannot be really sure whether they translation is referring to an English or an American cut. It takes a long time to sort these out!

                                    I persuaded our great local butcher to give a demonstration to a small group of local Slow Fooders on how to break down a beef forequarter. It was completely fascinating and I got some quite good pictures. And Stanley Lobel of Lobels in New York amazingly gave me permission to use photographs from his website for my http://ww.whatamieating.com.

                                    I only started blogging a couple of weeks ago, and I have to say that I have found Chow Hound much the most civil and serious of the blogs I have seen. Thanks for making me so welcome!

                              2. It's probably far too late for this post to do any good, but so many of the answers were so very wrong.... While I can't tell you the Imperial name for the cut, which very well might be "fore rib," at least I can tell you what it is.

                                A cow (or steer's) rib cage is like a barrel -- rounded ribs are attached to the back bone at one end, and (most) to the sternum (breast bone at the other. When the steer is cut in half the rib section is like half a barrel. The part nearest the back bone is the rib roast.

                                Tangentially, the middle 6 ribs of the rib roast are the "prime rib." The word prime has nothing to do with how the meat is graded. It simply means the best part of the rib roast or "joint" if you prefer.

                                Continuing to move from the back bone to the sternum, we come to what's called the "flank" both in the US and the UK. The fore ribs attached to the sternum, and the 3 ribs not attached to it, are the short rib. The primal to which they're attached is called the "flank" both in the US and theUK. So, I suppose if you told the UK butcher you were looking for ribs from the flank (s)he could give you exactly what you wanted.

                                The comparison to pork "spare ribs" was anatomically apt. "Baby back," aka "loin" ribs are taken from what would be a pig's rib roast, while spare ribs are taken from what would be the short rib.

                                The part of the rib comprising short ribs is separated from the rib roast part with a saw. In other words, the rib cage is sawn in half cross-wise. If the flank ribs are then separated one from the other and sold as individual ribs, those ribs are termed "England" cut rib in the US. However if the butcher continues to saw across the ribs so there are several ribs connected by meat in each section, that's a "flanken cut." FWIW, flanken ribs are usually about 3/4" thick.

                                Hope this helps.


                                3 Replies
                                1. re: boar_d_laze

                                  Thanks for this. I read in an English newspaper that short ribs are the bones and meat above the rib roast. Would that be the best way to ask for them, do you think?

                                  1. re: greedygirl

                                    I do hope you find them - so many wonderful recipes for them. Maybe if you printed out that post and took it to your butcher?

                                  2. re: boar_d_laze

                                    Late as your reply was I have finally discovered it and found it really useful. You sound like a real meat expert, and I like your description which doesn't use terms like "primal round" which means nothing to a me!! Can I seek your help in the future when I get onto meat cuts again? At the moment I am working on Bengali and Finnish food terms..... Meat cuts are a rather distant dream.

                                  3. The short ribs come from the chuck end and fore ribs as they are called in the UK. You dont tend to find these in the uk as we tend to hang the beef as forequarters which cuts the meat between the check and forerib. So they are available but not as long as available in the US. You can get these cuts from any good beef supplier or butcher in the UK. I get mine from a great place called the traditional beef company www.traditional-beef.co.uk hope this helps

                                    9 Replies
                                    1. re: foodie1979

                                      Since I posted this four years back, I've discovered that we call the cut Jacob's Ladder.

                                      I've seen them on a couple of restaurant menus in the last 12 months or so (including Michelin starred Baslow Hall - where they serve it as part of a "beef three ways" dish)

                                      1. re: Harters

                                        That's what I thought when I ordered it from my local butcher a couple of years back, but it's not what my wife collected a day or two later ( a boneless 7lb chunk of meat which looked rather like an unsliced rump).

                                        If I'd said "The portion of ribs and flesh trimmed off to shorten the ribs left on a rib roast joint, all in one peice" then I would have got short ribs.

                                        The excellent butchers are pretty old school, so I expect that their Jacobs Ladder was the real thing:


                                        Edit: I've just googled Jacob's ladder meat, and got this:


                                        Maybe my butchers were mistaken!

                                        1. re: Robin Joy

                                          The korean short ribs are flanken-style ribs cut about a quarter of an inch thick. I've seen them at Sam's Club in the US.

                                          1. re: Robin Joy

                                            Robin - I know a butcher on a non-food forum and when I showed him the picture of "short ribs", he recognised it. Not as Jacob's Ladder but as a cut most butchers incorporate into the mince - as you indicate, leftovers from another cut. Maybe the name in the UK started as a regional one - the Google references all seem to relate to a stone stairway in Falmouth (although there's another near me in Derbyshire - a mountain pathway)

                                            1. re: Harters

                                              I just moved to the UK (from Texas) and after a comical interaction at the local grocery meat counter asking for short ribs -

                                              (employee: "Ribs? No, not until BBQ season." me: "No, Short Ribs. For braising?" employee: "Yeah, we don't carry those until BBQ season." me: "There's a BBQ season?" employee: "Just July and August")

                                              - I found a local butcher who said what I wanted was a cut-down Jacob's ladder. He then proceeded to pull out the entire rack of untrimmed ribs and let me pick the ribs I wanted and cut them as short as I wanted.

                                              He told me that, if he wasn't in, to ask for flat ribs.

                                              (He also helped me sort out the whole bacon/streaky bacon thing!) I have so much to learn here.

                                              1. re: tacosandbeer

                                                Nothing comical there, mate.

                                                There's a BBQ season if you're lucky. I've got a BBQ that hasnt been out of the shed for two years.

                                                Congratulations on finding a decent butcher. Not that many left these days. And, if he's as good as he sounds, then he'll possibly sell "middle" bacon - which is the whole rasher - includign both the back bacon cut and the streaky bacon cut. It is absolutely the best for a bacon butty.

                                                1. re: Harters

                                                  "Nothing comical there, mate. "

                                                  There was that moment of dawning realization that he wasn't kidding. I have learned that there's a difference between what I consider acceptable weather to grill/BBQ in (no lightning storms, no torrential downpours) and what the British consider 'grilling weather'. So much of my repertoire revolves around grilling, I'm feeling a little lost without one.

                                                  And the butcher I found slices my bacon to order from the whole slab, so I will ask him about the 'middle' bacon. My British DH will be thrilled, his idea of heaven is a bacon butty. (I think it looks like it would benefit from a char-grilled burger patty and a slice of cheese.)

                                                  1. re: tacosandbeer

                                                    No, no, no. We must cultivate your appreciation of British cuisine and culture. The bacon butty is an intrinsic part.

                                                    Discussions about bread choice can lead to fist fights in pub car parks. Should it be supermarket sliced white or a barm cake (if you don't call a bread roll a barm cake, I would instantly know that you are not from my part of the world). There is general agreement that fancy bread is definitely not required. And it must be white. Brown bread is an abomination in the circumstances.

                                                    It should be generously filled - obviously not as generously as an American sandwich - that much also may be agreed. Most folk will go for back bacon, a few will opt for streaky - only the afficiandos will opt for middle. And, then how to cook it - should it be crispy or fairly flaccid.

                                                    And then there's the whole question of sauce - red or brown ....ketchup or HP (or Daddies).

                                                    Me? Barm cake, middle, flaccid, ketchup.

                                                    But you see why, with all this to talk about, we no longer had time to run an empire.

                                                2. re: tacosandbeer

                                                  I had to reply just to you to say.... you moved to the UK from Texas? You poor thing. What I wouldn't give to leave british shores to go and live in Texas!

                                                  Glad you found a good butcher though, they're hard to find :)

                                        2. How threads come back to haunt you, eh?

                                          What stops you emigrating? Plenty of people do it.

                                          Is there anything in particular that appeals about emigrating to Texas, as opposed to anywhere else in the world?

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: Harters

                                            Haha. I hadn't even looked how old the thread was! I suppose lack of funds is the main prohibiting factor, coupled with my inability to cope without my parents close by, though we did toy with the idea of packing up and moving to Canada a few years back, then life and hubby's health put a stop to just about everything. I suppose the sheer scale of it appeals, and how Texas natives seem to love the place. My hero hails from Texas and I'd love to be able to visit the famous Texas Tornado boot camp :)

                                            1. re: snootycow

                                              I reckon most people prefer their own part of the world than anywhere else. I can't imagine myself ever wanting to live anywhere but this part of the UK.

                                          2. Hi all, late in the day (years!) but wanted to add something as I am British and came up against the same problem as the OP and this is one of the first threads I was led to. I wanted to make an Asian beef slow-braise recipe that I'd copied down from a US cookery programme, but had never heard of short ribs and had no idea what to ask my butcher for. I found this short video really useful in explaining where the meat comes from on the animal and the different types of cut and what they look like:


                                            It's an American video, hence uses the term 'English cut'(slightly misleading for Brits, because it is in fact a US butchery term that simply means short ribs cut between the bone) but what I needed for my recipe turned out to be what a US butcher would call 'flanken cut' (short ribs cut across the bones).

                                            I took a rough hand-drawn diagram to my fabulous local butcher just in case, to show him what I was after. He was also really helpful in further explaining that in the UK, traditional butchers call short ribs either "Jacob's ladder" (as Harters and tacosandsand already said) or "flat ribs". They didn't have them in the cabinet (I've never, ever see them ready-cut on this side of the pond) so I ordered them and they came in the next day. He then cut them up to the size I wanted for my braised dish (which I could visualise having seen the dish cooked on the TV). Voila, perfect! You definitely do not want spare ribs and if you ask for "forerib" as someone suggested, most UK butchers understand that to be a roasting joint, which won't do either.

                                            If you're from the UK, you have almost zero chance of finding them in a supermarket or sitting waiting for you in your butcher's cabinet, you need to go to a good butcher who you can discuss it with, armed with a little bit of info and maybe a diagram or photo. I know not everyone has easy access to a great local butcher, more's the pity, but it seems to be the only option if you really want to cook with this cut.

                                            I hope that helps :-


                                            PS they were absolutely DELICIOUS and well worth the extra effort to get them. I can't see the recipe working as well with a different cut - the bone in makes all the difference to the unctuousness of the sauce in a slow braise!

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: MagnoliaTree

                                              Funnily enough, since I started this thread back in 2008 and discovered in 2012 that we do call them Jacob's Ladder, I've seen them in butchers several times. But now called "short ribs" (I have also seen them still called Jacob's Ladder, but not as often). I can only presume it's just another part of our culture becoming Americanised.

                                              1. re: Harters

                                                I'm sure you're right about the gradual popularising of the term Harters, I live in small provincial town where we're lucky enough to have 2 butcher's shops, one didn't have a clue, the other did at least recognise the term "short rib" before explaining to me how 'old school' UK butchers describe them. I confess I don't often visit butcher's shops in other parts of the country, so wasn't sure if it was a nationwide trend or not. Thanks for starting the thread all those years ago, it's really useful for people like me who had never laid eyes on the cut in the flesh (pardon the pun) before and was my first port of call :-)