Short ribs are the meaty ends of the beef ribs from the hardworking chest and front shoulders of cattle. Short ribs are best cooked using slow, moist-heat methods like braising. What makes this often-overlooked cut so remarkable is its dense, well-marbled meat and its connective tissue, which softens as it cooks to help create a velvety, deeply flavored sauce.
Many recipes for braised short ribs would also be delicious made with beef chuck cut into similar-size pieces.
The meatiest short ribs with the best ratio of fat and bone come from the chuck—the labels might say beef chuck short ribs or arm short ribs. Look for well-marbled, meaty ribs, firmly attached to the bone, and without a huge amount of surface fat. You may find short ribs cut two ways: English style (shown at left in the photo), which are 2- to 4-inch segments with one section of rib bone, or flanken style (at right), which are 1-1/2- to 2-inch strips containing multiple bone segments. For most recipes, they can be used interchangeably, though English style offers thicker, more meaty bites. Avoid boneless short ribs; meat cooked on the bone will provide the best flavor.
When trimming the short ribs, remove only the thickest layers of external fat. Don't remove the internal layers of connective tissue or the ribs will begin to fall apart, and don't remove the silverskin or membrane that holds the meat to the bone.