How-To Guides

How to cook jacob’s ladder beef ribs

Two Jacob's ladder of beef on butchers paper.

What is jacob ladders beef?

Jacob’s ladder beef is a term coined by butchers across the pond in America. It references a biblical story about a ladder to heaven, and many fans of this cut will often describe the taste of this beef as heavenly.

The Jacob’s ladder of beef is sourced from the ribs that extend out of the short rib plate. This cut is kept whole and resembles a ladder (hence the name). The meat is as flavoursome as the rib eye, yet needs a longer, slower cook. We leave the top muscle and fat on, which is essential for these smaller native breeds. Doing so enables you to cook the Jacob’s ladder in the whole and then carve it to reveal a delicious and moist cut.

A single ladder of four bones will serve two people.

Jacobs ladder beef cooking time

Post-searing the Jacob ladders, a nice gentle braise of around 3 hours will suffice. Braising is a great technique, as is smoking the beef, as the time afforded to the cut produces the famed texture and flavours we love. Smoking this joint may well take longer than 3 hours.

Best way to cook jacobs ladder beef ribs

This cooking method focuses on a braised Jacob’s ladder:

  1. Season the meat well with sea salt.
  2. Heat some oil or dripping in a heavy-based casserole pan and start searing the Jacobs ladder over high heat.
  3. Once the meat is nicely browned, remove it from the casserole pan.
  4. Roughly chop some vegetables of your choice and sweat them off in the same pan for 10-15 minutes, until soft and sweet.
  5. Return the Jacobs ladder to the pan and add some good-quality wine and beef stock. Not so much that it completely submerges the beef.
  6. Season with salt and pepper, and add some bay leaves and sprigs of thyme. A star anise is also a nice addition here.
  7. Cover with a lid, then place in a preheated oven at 140ºC for 2 ½ – 3 hours.
  8. Once cooked, remove from the oven and set to one side to rest for 1 hour.
  9. Remove the beef and vegetables from the casserole.
  10. Skim most of the excess fat, which there will be quite a lot of, from the top of the liquid. Return the braising liquid to the heat and reduce until you have the desired consistency.

Top tips

  • Searing the beef not only locks in the vital moisture but also enables a chemical reaction between the proteins, amino
  • acids and natural sugars, giving the meat its delicious colour and resulting flavour.
  • If the sauce is becoming too intense in flavour but hasn’t quite reached the desired consistency, you can thicken it
  • slightly with a bit of flour or cornflour, rather than reducing it any further.
  • For a little extra colour to the beef, portion it by cutting between the rib bones, then smother it in a bit of the
  • braising liquid and return it to a hot oven to crisp and glaze up.

Jacob’s ladder beef recipe

For something truly unctuous, try braising your Jacob’s ladder beef ribs in a rich Oloroso sherry liquor and serving alongside fried potatoes.

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