These flanken cut beef ribs are made for the grill, and cook to perfection (complete with crispy charred edges) in a matter of minutes.
There’s more than one way to cut a beef rib. Usually, I would braise or slow smoke beef ribs. But cutting them ACROSS the bones, flanken style, opens up a whole new world of quick-cook grilling options. When sliced thinly, this traditionally tougher cut is transformed. Tenderness is sometimes about perception – and the less resistance in a bite, the more tender we think it is. And when you cut the meat thin to start with, you automatically lower the resistance of the bite!
These flanken cut ribs, also called costillas de res, are marbled with flavorful ripples of fat which morphs into crispy goodness on the grill. I usually make these for a snack-style appetizer before the main grilled meal. You can cook them up fast, then slice between each bone to create a mountain of beefy morsels.
The glaze for these flanken cut beef ribs is also one of those amazing recipes that is extremely simple to make, with a huge flavor payoff. Let’s be honest, usually you have to choose one or the other. But I promise you, it’s easy AND delicious. The addition of tamarind paste along with the agave nectar balances the heat of the chiles, and really creates a tangy and warm finish with a beautiful deep red color.
Start by making the glaze. Combine the chipotle peppers in adobo sauce with the mezcal, agave and tamarind paste. Use an immersion blender or regular blender to blitz into a smooth paste, about 2-3 minutes. The glaze can be made up to a week in advance and kept in the fridge.
Set up a grill for two zone cooking, and pile all the coals to one side. The lit side should be medium to high heat, at least 400f.
Season the beef ribs well on both sides with kosher salt.
Place them over the coals, and cook by turning them every 30 seconds. They will begin to smoke and char quickly. Keep cooking and flipping frequently until they are mostly cooked, the fat has mostly rendered and the meat has turned a deep golden brown with crispy edges. This should take 5-6 minutes over high heat.
Once the ribs are the color you want, move them across to the indirect or cool side of the grill, then brush them with the glaze. Turn them over and brush the other side with the glaze, then close the lid and let them cook a further 3-5 minutes so the glaze sets a little. If you want a super crispy/charred finish, put them back over the heat for a minute each side once glazed.
Remove from the grill and serve – as an option, you can slice each rib between the bones to create small appetizer-style niblets.
You will need to set up your grill for two-zone grilling for this recipe. Click here to find out more.
Often flanken ribs are sold in various thicknesses, so try to look for the thinner ones. They should ideally be under 1/2 inch thick.
If you don’t have agave nectar, you can substitute with honey. And if you prefer, you can use tequila rather than mezcal. The other glaze items cannot be substituted.