I cooked up 4 pounds of short ribs this week and made a couple different versions of sandwiches. First I’m going to talk about the McShortRib sandwich that I made which is a riff on McDonald’s McRib. Then after the bbq braised rundown, I’m also going to talk briefly about a second beer braised short rib recipe that I added to multiple grilled cheese sandwiches that I also ate this week.
The McRib is not always available at McDonalds. They seem to release it for a few weeks every two or three years and because of that rare random release schedule it has become a fan favorite. I personally haven’t had a McRib this century because of my fairly infrequent trips to the restaurant and its sporadic appearance on the menu but I do remember liking the combination of the pickles and onions with barbecue sauce.
For the bun we needed a white bread roll about 6 inches long. I am a big fan of the King Arthur potato bun for burgers, so I started that dough and after the first rise, I shaped it in long roll form (100 gram portions). The McRib has corn meal on top, so I dusted mine fairly liberally when forming and before baking.
BBQ sauce braised short ribs
For the meat portion of this sandwich, I braised some short ribs in a homemade bbq sauce. McDonald’s McRib is ground pork weirdly formed to look like there are bones in the patty. The short ribs I used are beef, so this isn’t really a copy cat recipe, it’s more of a sandwich inspired by another.
The sauce this recipe makes isn’t the vinegar based sauce from my home state of North Carolina, this is more akin to a Kansas based sauce; sort of like what you might find in a bottle at the store. You could definitely spice things up here with a bit of cayenne pepper in the sauce, but since I was attempting to emulate McDonald’s McRib, I went with a sweet sauce base.
Once the meat was cooked, I skimmed off as much fat from the top of the sauce and discarded it. After that I was able to pull large pieces of short rib for arranging in the sandwich. This isn’t just one big piece like the actual McRib. I think to do that you’d have to grind meat for patty formation; short ribs just aren’t shaped in a way to find a roughly three by six inch shape.
Just below I have linked the full recipe for my bbq sauce braised short ribs. They would be fantastic on top of polenta, grits or even mixed into mac and cheese, but pulled or sliced off the bone they are a very solid addition to a sandwich. You can also add all the ingredients in the sauce in a pot and bring it to boiling and simmer for 10 minutes or so to just have a sweet homemade bbq sauce.
This week I also made these fantastic pickles. An online acquaintance shared this tweet from Joshua Weissman about MSG pickles. I tried the recipe a day or so after seeing it and found that I wanted a bit more sweetness and the pickles could definitely use some heat.
If you’re worried about the use of MSG, you can leave it out but it really brings a lot to the recipe. J. Kenji Lopez-Alt wrote a very thorough run down on what MSG actually is and the reasons why you shouldn’t be worried about consuming it. It seems that a very small percentage of people can have some sort of sensitivity to MSG but otherwise it’s not as scary as we were lead to believe in the 1970s and 80s.
Note: these pickles will pick up more spice as they age, so when you taste them the second day they will not be as spicy as they will be on the third or fourth day. If you really are looking for something super spicy I suggest you double the red pepper flakes.
The final thing I did was slice up some yellow onion. I bet McDonald’s uses white onion, but I prefer the sweeter yellow option. Add the bread, meat, pickles and onions and I created a very tasty sandwich. See if you can figure out which one is mine and which is McDonald’s in the photo below? You get three chances and the first two don’t count.
Please don’t lick the screen. There’s a pandemic.
Short rib grilled cheeses (or short rib melts)
I also whipped up this beer braised short rib recipe. If you don’t want to use beer, you could use wine or just add more of the beef broth.
The bread recipe I made for my caesar sandwiches made two loaves so I froze the second for a few days and thawed it out after I cooked beer braised short ribs. If you didn’t already know, bread freezes and thaws very well. If you can’t eat a whole loaf, you should freeze some and save it for later.
A smear of butter on the outside is how I like to make my grilled cheese/melt sandwiches. I have tried the mayo on the outside trick, but if your butter is room temperature it should spread and cover the surface just as well as mayo. If you don’t know what I’m talking about here, it’s basically just a tip that mayo browns as well as butter on a griddle. If your butter is super firm and hard to spread because it’s straight from the fridge, you might find that spreading a thin layer of mayo on the outside of your sandwich will help you achieve really consistent browning.
I used shredded fontina and gruyere and a few chunks of short rib. On one sandwich I added pickled red onions and the other was just the meat and cheese.
And there you it. Two versions of short ribs and two versions of sandwiches that you can try. Short ribs are super easy to make, they just take a bit of time and planning to cook. But your kitchen will smell fantastic for a whole time and get you excited about the meal you’re about to consume. Go forth and short rib sandwich!