Tue Aug 25, 2015
A business trip is just another excuse for gluttony in my book—after getting out of a long day of conference sessions, what better thing is there to do except eat and drink in excess, packing in as much food into a short trip as possible. Luckily I've been blessed with colleagues with a similar mentality, and boy did my co-worker and I eat well on a three-day jaunt in Seattle last year. Overindulgence comes with the requirement of a reasonable price tag per organizational rules, but usually throw in one splurge meal, and during that trip it was at Miller's Guild—a restaurant I sought out primarily to experience their massive wood-fired grill.
After walking in, my co-worker and I cozied up in front of the warm burning embers of that grill and considered what piece of cow would serve us best that fine evening. I stayed with my tried and true hanger/flank-type steak, while my company opted for short ribs. In my mind, she had just made a critical error.
I've only known short ribs to be either braised or slow smoked, both of which are methods that break down the massive amount of fat and connective tissue and render the meat tender and delicious. Cooked over a hot fire, I thought the short ribs would be tough and chewy. Man, was I ever wrong. We both tried each others cuts and those grilled short ribs put my steak to shame in every way.
I was left feeling concerned that I had wasted so many years of my life not grilling short ribs, and vowed to make up for lost time as soon, and as often, as possible.
So it wasn't long after that trip that I went to my butcher and picked up the two thickest racks of short ribs they had for the sole purpose of grilling them. The racks I got came with four bones each, all about six inches long, and with around two inches of meat sitting on top.
To make these massive racks into grill-able steaks, I first separated them into single bone portions. I then used my boning knife to cut as much meat from the bone as I could.
I was left with some damn fine beautiful steaks. Just look at that intramuscular fat—that's the stuff that makes a steak extra flavorful. The amount of fat in these lowly, inexpensive short ribs is almost exactly what you'd pay top dollar for with Kobe beef or cuts like rib-eye cap.
I quickly found out that preparing short ribs in this manner left me with an almost equal amount of scrap pieces as cookable steak. Luckily I could put everything to good use—I froze the bones and made stock with them later on, and the fat was ground for sausages somewhere along the road.
The simplicity of those short ribs at Miller's Guild was part of the attraction—nothing more than meat, salt, and pepper was needed for an incredible meal. I, however, opted to make a sauce to serve with my short ribs. I didn't want to complicate or overpower the meat, so landed on a fresh and mild chimichurri to do the job. Instead of putting this together in the traditional manner, where chopped parsley, oregano, and garlic are whisked by hand with oil and vinegar, I put the entire thing together in the food processor, which created a fairly stable emulsion, keeping the sauce more solid, and quite frankly, made it better for photos.
At Miller's Guild, I watched the chef grill the short ribs entirely over a direct hot fire and figured there was no reason not to do the same here. Luckily, that intramuscular fat that delivers the flavor also acts as an insulator, so the short ribs actually cook slower than less fatty steaks. This let me get a really great sear over direct heat without bringing the internal temperature past my 125°F target for medium-rare.
After letting the steaks rest for five minutes, I sliced into one and boy did it look glorious. The meat was rosy red from edge to edge and it glistened with moisture.
I cut all the steaks into thin strips against the grain—an important step for optimal tenderness—then loaded them up onto a tray and drizzled on the chimichurri. These may have been some of the best steaks I've ever cooked, and I've cooked my fair share of steaks I've openly bragged about in the past. For bang for your buck, I think short ribs are now my favorite cut for eating straight-up as steaks—although nothing will replace my first love of skirt for fajitas. The steaks were so beefy and tender that they left a strong impression and me and my meaty minions who were eating alongside. The steaks would have been fine without the chimichurri, but the sauce did lend a nice contrasting fresh touch that made the dish feel more complete. Miller's Guild may have not absolute best meal we had in Seattle, but I'll forever be in debt to them for turning me onto the awesomeness of grilled short ribs.
Grilled Short Ribs with Chimichurri Sauce Recipe
- Prep Time:
- 20 Minutes
- Cook Time:
- 10 Minutes
- Total Time:
- 30 Minutes
- 4 Servings
- For the Chimichurri
- 1 cup packed fresh parsley, washed and dried
- 5 medium cloves garlic, peeled
- 2 tablespoons oregano leaves
- 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 8 short ribs approximately 6" long, cut into individual ribs, meat removed from bone, and trimmed of excess hard fat
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- To make the chimichurri: Place parsley, garlic, and oregano in the workbowl of a food processor. Pulse until finely chopped, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in oil and vinegar. Add in salt and red pepper flakes and pulse to combine. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
- Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of charcoal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Season short rib steaks liberally with salt and pepper. Place steaks on grill and cook, flipping frequently, until well seared on all sides and thickest part of steaks registers 125°F on an instant read thermometer. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 5 minutes.
- Thinly slice steaks against the grain, top with chimichurri, and serve immediately.