When it comes to dealing with grocery store meat departments and getting cuts of meat that are comparable (and better?) than what you find in your local steakhouse, there is really one thing I want to make sure I impress upon everyone. That is, “Ask and ye shall receive.” So it is with these Argentine Short Ribs, known there as “Tira de Asado”.
“My supermarket says they don’t carry Argentine Short Ribs,” you say? Well, that is technically true, but also sort of misleading. They don’t *market* what they have as Argentine Short Ribs. What they do have are the main pre-boxed cuts that can be used to create them, the cutting equipment needed to do so, and (hopefully) a friendly butcher that will be happy to field your request if they are not too busy and you are forward enough to ask. The future (and awesome BBQ) belong to the bold.
I’ve found the best way to explain what I want in this case to even the most junior meat-cutter is to work from something they already know. In this case that is the flanken-cut short ribs they have on display in the meat case. Flanken-cut short ribs are essentially just a thinner version of what we are looking for. The most common use is generally Korean BBQ. In that case, a flavorful marinade is applied and a high surface area to mass ratio is preferred.
There is also a little bit of etiquette surrounding asking for custom cuts that would not typically be considered to be marketable by a grocery store. According to my grocery store butcher, short rib racks are delivered to them two to a cryovac. Because I don’t want them to hate me, I order both cut to my specification so there is nothing unmarketable left over. My recommendation to you would be to order by the full rack to minimize waste and be willing to accept a slightly larger or smaller end piece of the rack.
It might seem strange to you that we are going to cook what is normally thought of as a long smoking cut more like a steak. It’s definitely true that Argentine short ribs will have more chew than your ribeye. However, that is something I am willing to accept to get the killer marbling and superior beefy taste they possess. Short rib is a preferred cut for grinding into premium hamburger meat because of these characteristics. In “short”, it is the beefiest beef you can get your hands on.
My method for all steaks and steak-like cuts of meat is always the same and consists of three key points. The first of which is to order your meat cut to order, which we’ve already done. The second two are to always use smoking wood and to use the lowest quality charcoal you can get your hands on. There is a more complete explanation of my logic behind both of those in my piece on Smoke Roasted Ribeyes, which you should definitely read because ribeye is delicious.
I want to conclude by attempting to persuade you that owning an instant read thermometer is a great idea. That is even more true in this recipe’s case due to the cook speed of the short ribs.
The high amount of surface area on Argentine short ribs means the cook goes faster than you would expect. It is easy to overshoot if you are winging it. A good instant read thermometer will allow you to stay on top of this.
Overall, an instant read thermometer will improve the quality of almost anything you make. I use it for meat on the grill, in the smoker, and in my oven. I use it for baking and candy making. There are really an endless amount of situations where precise temperature control matters. It stands to reason that if precise temperature control matters, you need to have a means of measuring temperature precisely. Enter the instant read thermometer.
You can spend a lot of money on an instant read thermometer. Fortunately there are high quality inexpensive options that have come on the market in recent years. I still have and use my first two, but I paid over $100 for each of them. I paid under $50 for my third, and costs have only fallen since then. Many that are perfectly sufficient for 99% of home cooks are in the $25 range now. My recommendation is the Lavatools PT12 Javelin Digital Instant Read Meat Thermometer and is available on Amazon.com (affiliate).
Argentine Short Ribs (Tira de Asado)
- 2 racks 1 1/2" thick flanken style short ribs (USDA Choice and above in grade)
- kosher salt
- black pepper
- wood chips (I use a pecan/oak/mesquite blend)
- lump charcoal (Use the lowest-class stuff you can find)
Light your charcoal and set your grill up for indirect cooking. This means all the coals banked to one side, and the meat on the other.
Position the top vent of your grill over top of the meat and make sure it is wide open. Also make sure your intake vent is wide open, also. We don't want to choke the fire off. Just the lidded grill will keep the heat down to a good level.
Cook the meat over indirect heat until it is about 10-15 degrees from done. Having an instant read thermometer obviously helps a lot here.
Evacuate the meat (and I do mean evacuate) to a plate to let it cool a bit while you remove the lid on the grill and let the rush of oxygen to the fire heat up the coals. This is the point where you want to add more if you are getting low. Make sure they are lit before you proceed.
Sear the ribs on both sides until golden brown and delicious. Keep an eye on the internal temperature in the center of the ribs
Remove the ribs to a clean plate and rest until ready to serve.
This is a recipe that is difficult to execute properly without an instant read thermometer as the ribs cook quite fast, even while on indirect heat. Our recommendation is the Lavatools PT12 Javelin Digital Instant Read Meat Thermometer and is available on Amazon.com (affiliate).
Short rib definitely has more chew to it than a normal steak. This is the reason why I would urge you to stick with USDA Choice and above as far as grade. We can combat that through some good tactics as far as how we serve and eat it. I typically slice the bones off of the meat in one slice and then chop them into riblets. I actually like them, despite the fact that they can be a little challenging to eat. The rest of the meat should be sliced thinly against the meat fibers to keep them small and chewable.