While I was working on this week's feature story, "Not So Clear Cut," I grilled a lot of different beef cuts fajita-style and asked my friends and family what they thought. The hands-down favorite at every taste test was the short rib meat. It was also the cheapest. I bought a big package of the stuff at Costco for $3.99 a pound.
I figured this would make interesting "fajita" meat, and it did. But it took some experimenting. First I sliced the meat too thick and it was too tough, then I cut it too thin and the pieces were difficult to handle -- some of them slithered through the grill.
Boneless short rib meat, known as kalbi, is one of two cuts made famous by Korean barbecue restaurants -- the other is the thin-sliced rib eye called bulgogi. So I finally went to a Korean grocery store to see how Korean butchers cut the stuff. That's how I ended up with the neat rectangles in this recipe. If you find the meat too tough, cut it a little thinner than a quarter inch or pound it flat.
Here's a recipe:
Short Rib Fajitas
You cook most fajita cuts whole and then slice them against the grain. But in this recipe, you cut the meat and marinate it first, then cook the strips on the grill, like you do in a Korean barbecue.
1 pound boneless chuck short rib 2 cups pineapple juice Half cup soy sauce 2 garlic cloves, minced 2 limes Salt and pepper
Cut the short rib meat into rectangles four-and-a-half inches long, one-and-a-half inches wide and a quarter-inch thick. Combine the pineapple juice, soy sauce and garlic in a bowl. Wash and zest the limes and add the zest to the marinade. Squeeze the limes into the bowl and then throw the limes in too.
Put the meat in a re-sealable plastic bag with the fajita marinade and gently remove the air. Place the bag in a bowl to catch any leakage and put it in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.
Light the grill (preferably with mesquite). Put the meat on the hot part of the grill, turning once or twice until it gets nicely charred. Remove from the grill and salt and pepper to taste.
Squeeze a lime over the meat and serve immediately with hot flour tortillas and fajita fixin's.