{iron chef in my kitchen} Short Rib Smackdown: Chang vs. Keller

For about 4 years, I have been using a recipe adapted from David Chang’s recipe for short ribs that was printed in the New York Times. (This was in 2006, before David Chang and Momofuku were super famous–at that time I didn’t even know who he was.) It is one of my favorite recipes for a dinner party and everyone loves it, but I felt like I was in a bit of a rut. I needed something spectacular to christen my new and much improved kitchen, so I decided to go with a Thomas Keller recipe for short ribs.

A new kitchen deserved only the best, and by many accounts, Keller is the best! I almost never do Keller recipes because he is so not for lazy people, but this was a special occasion. The recipe sounded great and it smelled fantastic while cooking. It was a bit more fiddly than the Chang short ribs and required multiple pots and pans but it wasn’t terribly annoying or difficult to make.

In both recipes, you brown the short ribs, you make a liquid, you cook the heck out of the short ribs in the liquid in the oven, you fool around with straining vegetables out and skimming fat off, and you reduce the sauce. It’s essentially the same process, although Keller’s calls for an overnight marination in red wine and other stuff.

The verdict: Chang by a landslide! Keller’s ribs were good enough, to be sure, but nowhere near the complex, salty sweet deliciousness of Chang’s. Someday I may be tempted to try another luminary’s short ribs vs. Chang’s in a second round of battle, but for now, I’m sticking with my tried and true.

Here’s the losing Keller recipe, and here’s the David Chang ringer. Do you have a favorite short ribs recipe I can pit against Chang’s in the next heat?

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9 Responses

  1. I starred this earlier in my GReader so that I could come back and make the following comment:

    I have never, ever, made short ribs.
    I think I’m sort of afraid of “real” cuts of meat. (read: anything other than ground beef.)
    I am suddenly very ashamed of this, considering you’ve made them TWICE. (At least twice, that is.)
    But at least I know now, that Thomas Keller might be full of shit, at least when it comes to his short ribs recipe. (I’ve also heard his fried chicken isn’t sex on a plate, either… but that’s just me.)

    Congrats on the new kitchen! Looks beautiful!

    • Karen says:

      You should definitely make short ribs. You can’t mess them up because there’s no possibility of overcooking them! I make them all the time…

  2. Michael says:

    Well, I was actually going to make Keller’s short ribs recipe tomorrow, but I’m going to take a good hard look at the Change recipe you posted.

  3. Lingo says:

    I have a question about the Chang recipe…do you have a recommendation for the type of Sake? I don’t typically cook with Sake, or drink it for that matter. Thanks!

    • Karen says:

      @Lingo, I have found it doesn’t really matter what type of sake you use, as long as it’s not unfiltered (“nigori”)- and using cheap sake is just fine. I usually use Sho Chiku Bai or Takara sake since they are easily available in the Bay Area where I live – usually called “junmai”. I hope that helps!!

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