The Short rib is a cut that can get very confusing, very quickly. The main culprit is that there are two sections of the steer that you can cut short ribs from, the Chuck (shoulder area) or the plate (down towards the belly area, hence the term “navel short rib”). Both can be done either boneless, or bone-in. When cut from the chuck area, you can produce two cuts – a “Chuck Flap”, or a “Underblade Roast”. If you’ve ever heard of a “Denver” Steak; these are cut from the Underblade.
So what’s all the talk of Flap and Underblade, if the product is called ‘Zabuton’? It’s much more common to hear this cut referred to as a Zabuton, rather than an underblade. The term Zabuton has gained popularity over the years, as you more commonly see it cut from Wagyu beef (“zabuton” in Japanese loosely translates to ‘little pillow’ – supposedly because the shape of the cut resembles a small Japanese floor pillow).
Part of the reason why you don’t see more of this cut, is because it’s tucked in the center of the chuckroll, so many packinghouses won’t bother separating this particular muscle out. And the zabuton is a diamond in the rough – it only accounts for about 2.5lbs of the 20lb chuckroll. So you have to move a lot of relatively tough chuck, in order to get access to this cut. Good news for you is that we move a lot of chuck through our burgers!
USDA CHOICE: This piece is pulled from the center of a USDA Choice chuckroll. While typically we only deal with Prime, this muscle is particularly well marbled, even in Choice beef.
HOLSTEIN CATTLE: Our California Reserve Boneless Zabutons are sourced from Holstein Cattle, raised in California predominantly in the SE corner of the state. The size (diameter) of Holstein cuts will be smaller than the Angus.
SHIP FROZEN: Flash frozen after being processed, the zabuton will be safe for an additional 6-7months in your freezer, or 4-5 days in your refrigerator once thawed
UN-AGED: Two reasons why we do not dry age this particular cut – first, because there is very little protective covering that would allow us to dry age these (without enough bone or fat covering the meat, you incur too high of a trim loss when you trim the aged edges off the meat after it has finished dry aging). Secondly, whether thick cut or thin cut, these shortribs are most often paired with sauces or seasonings that are high in flavor, so we would not want to have a scenario where the dry aged flavor is competing with whatever recipe you’re going for!
You have a few options when it comes to this cut. If cutting into steaks; first thing to do is make sure you identify which way the grain is running, and cut your steaks perpendicular to the grain. In terms of thickness, I would recommend staying at 1.5” or less.
For cooking as a steak, if you are using a grill, go about 50-60% of your usual heat, and turn every minute or so during the length of the cooking process. This may seem contrary to everything we say about grilling, but this cut requires a different approach- if you’re patient, you’ll be rewarded! The ultimate time needed will depend on your heat/thickness, but a good rule of thumb is for ½” slices, about 8-10 minutes with 4 turns; 1 ½” slices, about 16-20 minutes with 6-8 turns. With the thicker slices, you could even give the edges some grill time on the turns.