There's something magical about slowly cooked beef short ribs.
To the uninitiated, the beef short rib is a hunk of meat about the size of a teenager's fist that's usually attached to the bone.
Most people cook them in a dutch oven with herbs, wine, and aromatic vegetables until the meat is fall off the bone tender.
Our beef ribs will be cooked a bit differently. The meat is cooked sous vide and then finished over an open flame with a kiss of smoke.
Sous vide cooking means we vacuum seal the meat in a food sealer and then cook it gently under vacuum at a low temperature, submerged in a water bath.
Now, this isn't your ordinary water bath.
Sous vide machine or an immersion circulator heats and circulates the water at a specific temperature allowing food to cook evenly at precisely your desired temperature.
This meat will cook for over three days and our sous vide machine is designed to be able to maintain a consistent temperature for that amount of time.
Why do you cook the meat for so long
Harder working cuts of meat are tough.
But if you know how to tame the toughness, you are rewarded with an intensely strong beef flavor that is both tender and delicious.
Traditional braising methods yield well-done meat that is dark and gray, but tender. When we cook using sous vide we can achieve the same amount of tenderness and still retain a beautiful pink interior color to the beef.
How do I trim the ribs?
Fortunately, there is very little trimming involved in making beef short ribs. You can inspect the ribs for any large chunks of fat and remove them if you wish. But typically there is little trimming required.
You will however want to make sure the meat is well rinsed. Beef short ribs, especially the flanken cut rib are cut with a butcher's saw. Sometimes this cutting process leaves small shards of bone stuck to the meat.
To remove any bone fragments allow the meat to soak in a pot of cold water for 10-15 minutes and then give it a second rinse.
Pork ribs and BBQ beef ribs like spareribs do have a membrane on the bone side that should be removed prior to cooking. But fortunately, that's not the case with beef short ribs.
What are flanken cut beef ribs?
Flanken cut ribs are a slab of small connected pieces cut from the main portion of the ribs. Taken from the chuck primal Flanken-style short ribs are cut across the bone and consist of the first five ribs of the ribcage.
When chuck short ribs are obtained by cutting across the bone, they are referred to as Flanken-style short ribs. However, chuck short ribs cut parallel to the bones are known as English-style short ribs.
Flanken-style ribs are very popular in Asian cooking and the Koreans do a wonderful job of making them delicious. Although these ribs are delicious on their own, I like to finish them with some smoke, and this sauce that's absolutely delicious.
Is sous vide cooking beef short ribs hard
The Sous Vide portion of the cook cannot be easier.
Vacuum seal the ribs and place them into the water bath. No pre-seasoning is required.
When the ribs are done cooking in the Sous Vide, it's amazing how fragrant the cooking juices are.
These juices have a rich mahogany color and are an immediate reminder that the moisture stays in the bag and with the meat during the cooking process.
These juices released from meats when cooked sous vide are called the purge. You can make the purge into a nice sauce if desired.
A good trick is to take the purge and strain it into a tall microwave-safe dish. Unless you want a mess on your hands, make sure the dish is at least twice as tall as the depth of your liquid.
Microwave the purge until it boils and then carefully remove and strain a second time. When you microwave these liquids until they boil albumen or proteins will coagulate and separate from the flavorful liquid. Although these components are safe to eat, they are undesirable and make the sauce look cloudy.
I've had great results using this method and then reducing the juices with a little fresh ginger, garlic, and brown sugar for a nice dipping sauce.
Finish the ribs by searing over a hot fire
When meat is cooked sous vide it needs a finishing smoke and sear to bring out additional flavors.
Hardwood lump charcoal is a fuel that can achieve temperatures perfect for searing. It also provides a delicious smoky flavor that works wonderfully with beef short ribs.
How long should I smoke them for
Hardwood lump charcoal will provide a rich smoky flavor to these short ribs, but you can add even more smoky flavor by adding a few chunks of hardwood to your firebox.
Since the meat is already cooked, you will more be seasoning the meat with smoke rather than cooking it.
Starting with cold meat helps the smoke adhere to the protein. Also smoking over indirect heat, or away from the coals at a lower temperature will add flavor without the meat becoming overcooked.
Why Did My Ribs Turn Out Tough?
There are a number of reasons why beef ribs can turn out tough. One of the most common reasons is that the meat was not cooked long enough. Low and slow is the key to cooking beef ribs until they are tender. Our sous-vide technique helps mitigate this and gives you a better chance of making your meat more tender.
Another reason that beef ribs can turn out tough is if they are overcooked. This can happen if the meat is cooked at too high of a temperature, or if it is cooked for too long.
Another factor that can contribute to tough beef ribs is the quality of meat that is used. Choosing choice or even prime cuts of beef when it's on sale will always give you an advantage to a flavorful and tender dish.
Beef Short Ribs Recipe
- Sous vide cooking machine
- Water reservoir
- Food sealer
- 32 oz beef short ribs
- 32 oz flanken cut beef ribs
- Soak the ribs in a deep pot of cold water for 20 minutes
- Rinse the ribs and pat dry
- Place the ribs in a food sealer bag in a single layer
- Remove the air and seal the bags
- Preheat the water in a large sous vide tub to 132F
- Add the sealed bags with the short ribs to the sous vide bath
- Cook the ribs in the sous vide bath for 75 hours
- Remove the bagged ribs from the sous vide bath and plunge them in an ice-water bath for 30 minutes
- Keep the ribs chilled or refrigerated until just before smoking or searing
- Prepare your Big Green Egg or other Kamado style grill for cooking with hardwood lump charcoal
- Remove the sous vide cooked meat from the food seal bags and pat dry
- If you wish to add additional smoke to the meat add wood chunks to the kamado and smoke the meat over indirect heat at about 225F for 30 minutes
- Raise the temperature of the grill to sear at about 425F
- Sear the meat on all sides until it develops a beautiful charred crust
If you prefer pork ribs over beef ribs I have a fun method for sous vide cooking pork ribs you will want to check out!