Beef Short Ribs in Black Bean and Liquorice Glaze

Oh! such is our food world that the humble, even lowly, beef short rib - once destined for those beneath stairs, to the dog or to the mincer, are now ‘on trend’ and even though the price per kilogram reflects this cut’s new-found stardom, beef short ribs remain good value for money.

Beef Short Ribs in Black Bean and Liquorice Glaze

Main stream supermarkets only occasionally feature beef short ribs so you’ll need the local butcher or one of the many on-line butcheries - who also offer home delivery - as prices vary from $15 - $23 per kg.

Beef ribs may be sold in one of two ways. Beef short ribs, also called ‘short cut beef ribs’ or ‘square cut beef short ribs’, will look similar to pork ribs – but far meatier. They will be neatly trimmed at each end, and may be sold in one, 4-bone-in piece, or, cut into single rib portions with each portion containing one bone. The thick layer of garnet-red meat that covers one side of the bone is well-woven with rich cream-hued fat - it’s essential for flavour so don’t get paranoid and cut it off or out.

Some butcheries will cut the beef short ribs across the bone, so that each long thick ribbon of meat contains four nuggets of bone at one end. This cut is often referred to as beef spareribs.

Whichever way you buy this beef cut, your investing in mouth-smacking deliciousness. Cooking beef short ribs is easy, but like good cheese, it takes time. Ribs, like other tougher cuts of meat, come from the part of the animal that does all the hard work, getting most of the exercise, and thus becoming high in collagen.

Collagen is a long inflexible protein that holds meat fibres together (skin is mainly collagen as are the tendons that hold the muscle to the bone). The more collagen, the tougher the meat cut and beef short ribs contain collagen in bucket loads.They also contain fat which is vital as it ensures the slow-cooked beef short rib is succulent.

To render beef short ribs tender and juicy they require cooking with moisture - marinade, water, stock, wine etc. - to help melt and dissolve the collagen into gelatin and, to help melt the fat. Once this happens, the fibres of the meat, which are now glazed with melted fat, can be pulled into juicy thick shreds whose unctuous texture and deep beefy flavour is divinely more-ish.

Be careful not to cook at too high a temperature, as the meat fibres become stressed and will shrink in both length and width leaving you with a chewy leather-strap-like rib ideal only for the undersoles of shoes. Slowly and surely wins the praise when cooking with beef short ribs.

On-line butchers

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