Ina Garten's Pro-Tip For Ordering Short Ribs At The Butcher

ina garten smiling
ina garten smiling - Amanda Edwards/Getty Images

Short ribs, as their name suggests, are taken from the lower rib cage area of the cow, specifically the brisket, chuck, plate, or rib. This cut of meat is naturally tough. However, when cooked properly, short ribs can be tender and moist. Ina Garten often opts for braising them in red wine.

When you order short ribs at the butcher, there are two styles you can get, either flanken, which are cut across several ribs, resulting in thin strips with multiple flat sections of bone, or the thicker English style, which is instead cut between the ribs, resulting in a single section of rib encased in meat. As seen in an episode of "Barefoot Contessa" reposted to YouTube, Garten prefers the English style. The style is typically the only specification people make when ordering short ribs at the butcher, but Garten also asks them to trim the fat off them, which ends up making all the difference in the outcome.

Read more: The Unexpected Meat You Need To Avoid Grilling At All Costs

Why You Should Order Short Ribs Without The Fat

four raw short ribs on butcher paper
four raw short ribs on butcher paper - Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock

Fat plays a critical role in the tenderness of short ribs. During cooking, it renders down and distributes moisture throughout the meat, making it juicy. But while fat is a good thing, it's really the intramuscular fat that's beneficial. The thick fat cap on top — the part that Ina Garten asks her butcher to remove — tends to contribute to excess greasiness rather than moisture. While you can remove this from your short ribs after cooking and chilling, Garten is in favor of getting rid of it beforehand.

The fat cap doesn't just add greasiness, it can also affect the flavor, mainly if you barbecue your short ribs. Any rub or seasoning you put on the meat will have trouble adhering because the fat can cause it to slide off. The dark, flavorful outer crust, also known as the bark, will also be unable to form. Even if you are braising them instead like Ina Garten does, trimming off this fat can also help to balance the richness of the dish.

Is It Free To Ask The Butcher To Trim Your Short Ribs?

butcher trimming piece of meat
butcher trimming piece of meat - javi_indy/Shutterstock

If you cook enough of Ina Garten's recipes, you'll start to notice that she'll often specify what to request from the butcher. In her rack of lamb recipe, for example, she says to ask the butcher to leave an eighth of an inch of fat on, while in one of her chicken breast recipes, she specifies asking the butcher to leave the skin on. Much like these other requests, asking the butcher to trim the fat from your short ribs is also a complimentary service. Some supermarkets might have a butcher department that would technically be able to perform this service, too, but it's worth noting that short ribs are sometimes difficult to find at a regular grocery store. So you may be better off going to a butcher shop.

Wherever you end up purchasing your short ribs, keep in mind that when you ask for the fat to be cut off, it won't bring the price down. Typically, you select your meat and it is weighed first, and any special requests for cutting or trimming are handled afterward and do not affect the initial price. These trimmings can still be useful. For example, you can use them to rub your grill grates down. However, having the butcher remove them from the meat can result in better-cooked short ribs.

Read the original article on Daily Meal