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Cut of Beef for Asian Ribs

Asked by Chris Hewitson. Answered on 23rd January 2016

Full question

I have had a problem with the Asian-Flavoured Short Ribs recipe in 'Simply Nigella. I live in France and sourced 'short ribs' as 'plat de cotes'. This cut is what is most often used in France to make a pot au feu. A problem though came when the butcher refused to cut the ribs to the smaller size required by the recipe. He said it was too dangerous to cut on his machine - and I could see his point when I looked at the cutting machine - so the pieces were maybe twice the size mentioned in the recipe. The recipe called for 4 - 4 and a half hours at 150C, but at the end of the cooking time, the meat on the ribs was not cooked. So I gave them a further four hours at the end of which the meat was cooked, but not all the fat had dissolved into the sauce. So, in future, I think I will cook this recipe in the slow cooker overnight rather than in the oven. What I want to know is whether the problem I experienced is because I may have purchased the wrong ribs, or is it the timings in the recipe that need to be flexible?

Our answer

Nigella's Asian-Flavoured Short Ribs recipe (from Simply Nigella) uses beef ribs that are cut into 4-5cm (approx 12 inch) pieces. The ribs are braised in an aromatic stock. Unfortunately the UK, US and Europeans all have slightly different cuts of beef but we beleive that you are using the correct cut with "plat de cotes" as this is the beef rib section that is below the sirloin (US = short loin, French = entrecote). Ribs are used in the French dish pot au feu, however be careful if buying pot au feu cuts as "pot au feu mijote" is often a mix that includes ribs and shoulder.

Whole beef ribs can be up to 10cm (4 inches) long and we suspect that the cooking time was affected by the size of the ribs. If the ribs are larger then they will take much longer to cook. The oven temperature of 150C (300F) should be high enough to render the fat and certainly is higer that the temperatures used by slow cookers. However you can slightly speed up the cooking by allowing the meat to come to room temperature before cooking and heating the cooking liquid before pouring it over the meat. Unfortunately we have not been able to convert this recipe to a slow cooker as the quantities involved are too big for most slow cooker pots.

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