Bone-in Shortribs make me feel old. Not because of the nostalgia for the days of my youth and the memory of my mother spending an afternoon slow cooking shortribs for the family… but because I’ve been in this industry for so damn long even I can’t keep up with the different names that are used to describe shortribs!
Let’s start by all getting on the same page about the source of these shortribs – the shortrib navel plate. This cut comes from the belly area of the animal, and the plate has a rectangular shape, about 8”width by 10” length. There are three bones running down the length of the plate, and the meat is situated between the bones (obviously!) and along the top of the bones.
Now, for years we would cut the plate in half lengthwise, across the bones, so that you ended up with 2 pieces, about 8” in width and 5” in length. Each piece would have 3 bones running the length of the piece, and these were called “English Cut Shortribs”. We would accommodate individual customer requests – if someone wanted thinner cuts, we would make 3 or 4 cross cuts, which would give you a thinner length (width would stay the same). My personal favorite was to cut the portions so that you had 1.5”-2” length of bone per piece, and a few years back we put them on our site and referred to them as “English Cut” Shortribs. Well queue up the angry emails, the masses has spoken, and I was wrong. Somewhere along the way, “English Cut” shortribs had switched and now referred to a different way of cutting the shortrib plate.
This new version of English Cut shortribs were are cut lengthwise between each of the 3 bones, and then once across the bone, so that you ended up with 6 individual pieces, each one about 2-3” in width, and 5” in length, and there is only a single section of bone per piece.
What I was referring to as English Style were now called “Flanken Style”. Where that came from, I had no idea (though a quick trip down a Google rabbit hole taught me that “Flanken” referred to a European Jewish dish of, you guessed it, navel shortribs cut crosswise along the bone).
Now that I’m hip to the times, we’re using the proper nomenclature for shortribs. At least for the next few decades! So, in summary: Whatever (sigh); no matter what you call them, or how you cut them, they are one of my favorite dishes.