The secret to making perfect short ribs, according to a golf-club chef
Welcome to Clubhouse Eats, where we celebrate the game’s most delectable food and drink. Hope you brought your appetites.
As much as we’d like to help you with your short game, this is not a golf instructional column.
What we can do is help you with your short ribs. As in, beef short ribs, a meaty cut that responds wonderfully to slow cooking.
For insights, we’ve turned to Eric Fulkerson, whose smoked and shredded beef short rib sandwich is a clubhouse hit at the Cliffs at Keowee Springs, in South Carolina, where he serves as executive chef.
Here are Chef Fulkerson’s fundamentals for preparing this deeply flavorful dish.
You could marinate your short ribs. Or dry rub them will a zillion herbs and spices. But Fulkerson doesn’t recommend it. For his short ribs, he starts with a high-quality cut (ask your butcher for a 123A Beef Short Rib Plate) and rubs it with nothing more than coarse black pepper and kosher salt, the better to let the natural flavors of the meat shine through.
Score the underside
There is a tough piece of connective muscle on the underside of the rib plate, and it requires your attention. You should either peel it off or score it prior to seasoning and smoking so that all those subtle flavors penetrate the meat.
Find your favorite wood
When it comes to smoking short ribs, any number of hardwoods can do the job. Fulkerson favors pecan wood for its mellow flavor. “Mesquite and hickory tend to be too sharp for me and take away the natural flavors of the meat,” he says. But don’t hesitate to experiment with them. You could try cherry wood. Or oak. Or alder. Or … In the end, the decision comes down mostly to personal taste.
Give it a rest
Once your short ribs are finished cooking (Fulkerson smokes his at 225 degrees until the meat reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees, at which point he wraps the ribs in peach paper—you can also use butcher paper—and continues smoking them until they get to 195 degrees), you’ll be tempted to tuck into them right away. Resist that urge. It’s important to let the meat rest for 30 minutes to an hour. That allows time for the muscles to relax and the juices settle. If you cut into your short ribs too quickly, all that juicy goodness will simply wind up on the cutting board.
Shredding over slicing
Slicing your short ribs is an option. Problem is, most home knives aren’t sharp enough to get a nice thin slice, Fulkerson says, especially with richly marbled short ribs. Besides, this is a shredded short rib sandwich. Shredding is a great way to go, Fulkerson says, because it creates more surface area for sauce to cling to, resulting in juicier, more flavorful meat. You can do the shredding with your hands (you might need to wear gloves, depending on your tolerance for the heat), two large forks, or a meat puller or shredder.
Fulkerson piles his shredded short ribs onto potato rolls, which he likes because they’re sturdy but soft “with a good chew.” If that’s not an option for you, the chef suggests a burger bun, a brioche bun or a couple of slices of Wonder Bread.
When it comes to condiments, the world is your oyster. Fulkerson considers these a must: Cole slaw, hot pickles (for spicy contrast), smoked cheddar pimento cheese and black garlic BBQ sauce. See recipes below for the last two.
Black Garlic BBQ Sauce
2 cups brown sugar
1 1/2 cups whiskey
2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
3 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 Tbs onion powder
1 tsp liquid smoke
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black garlic paste
Directions: In a medium saucepan, combine all the ingredients. Bring mixture to a boil and then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, stirring frequently, for 45 minutes to an hour.
Smoked Cheddar Pimento Cheese
1 pound freshly grated smoked cheddar (about 4 cups)
1/4 up mayonnaise (preferably Duke’s)
1/2 sweet onion, grated
1 4-ounce jar pimentos, drained and finely chopped
Dash of hot sauce
Coarse black pepper and kosher salt to taste
Directions: Combine the cheese, mayo and onions in a bowl. Stir until well combined. Add the pimentos and hot sauce. Season with salt and pepper.