The Cutting Style That Makes English Beef Short Ribs Unique

Beef short ribs have become a popular cut because of their succulent, fall-off-the-bone texture and rich flavor. These ribs can come from either the meaty chuck or plate regions, usually in sets of three to five connected ribs. There are multiple ways to cut short rib sections, so you might see completely different looking packages simply labeled "short rib." When the ribs are cut apart individually, the style is called English cut. The length of each piece can be cut into shorter, cube-like segments, but whether long or short, they're both English-cut short ribs.

There's another common short rib cut you shouldn't confuse — flanken-cut short ribs — from the same region, just cut crosswise. These are long strips of short rib cut across the bones so each section has several oval shaped bones visible connected by meat. The way the short ribs are cut informs how they should best be cooked. 

English cut short ribs need a special cooking method

Although you might find longer or shorter sections of English cut ribs depending on where you shop, don't confuse that size with the cut's name. Short ribs get their title because they're from the shorter end of the ribs (a pretty straightforward naming process). The rib section begins at the top of the back of a steer, where they're involved with cuts like chuck roasts and prime rib roasts. Near the lower part of the animal, the short end of the ribs have less large muscles to connect to. Beef short ribs are full of connective tissue because they're from muscles that do more work. That makes them wonderfully flavorful, but they need some help becoming tender. 

In the case of English-cut short ribs, a slow simmer in red wine and aromatic vegetables turns that thick slab of tough meat along each bone into fork-tender bites full of melty gelatin from all the connective tissue. They're also a popular choice for the smoker, turning out like meaty brisket, but with shorter cooking time. If you happen to find thin cross-cut flanken cut short ribs, don't be afraid to throw them on a hot grill, Korean kalbi-style. Although the meat is chewy, cutting across the meat fibers helps make them easy to eat.