Saturday, December 14, 2013


Beef Short Rib Tacos

If you have not noticed by now, I LOVE tacos as much as I love burgers and pizza.  This is also not my first beef short rib taco recipe.  Last Christmas, my family decided to break open the Christmas dinner box and we had a Taco Bar for Christmas dinner.  I had a fantastic time making beef short rib tacos, citrus and chile pulled pork tacos (pibil) and regular old ground beef tacos (my mom's request).  My family is not too adventurous when it comes to spicy foods and heat, so I kept the heat to a minimum.  So this time, I decided to crank up the heat. Here is what I did. 

 Beef Short Rib Taco Ingredients:
 2 packages of beef short ribs, about 2 - 3 pounds
1 large white or 2 medium white or yellow onions, quartered
8 cloves garlic, peeled
4 Pasilla-Chile Ancho pods
3 Guajillo Chile pods
2 teaspoons Chipotle in Adobo
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
salt and pepper (to season the ribs before searing)
3 strips bacon, chopped
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
2 teaspoons cumin seed or ground cumin
1 cup fresh chopped or torn cilantro
2 teaspoons dried oregano, crushed between your palms
corn or flour tortillas
grape seed or extra virgin olive oil
Lavender flower honey (or whatever honey you have)
1 box (2 cups) chicken or beef stock
1 bottle or can of Mexican beer

When you look at that list, you immediately ask yourself: "What is not to like?"  Seriously.  It all sounds incredibly mouthwatering.  And spicy.  It is, but it is decadent,delicate and balanced, all at once. We all have our own likes and dislikes, so I am sure you will make it your own, add and delete, as you wish. Isn't that the fun of food, afterall?

Season the room temperature beef short ribs with salt and pepper on all sides.  Slice the bacon strips into bite-sized bits and add to a large dutch oven over medium-high heat.  You may add a little grape seed or extra virgin olive oil if you like, but with bacon, it is not necessary.  Meanwhile, heat the oven to 400 degrees.  The rack should be in the center.  



Toss the quartered onion and garlic in two tablespoons oil and place place them in a cast iron skillet or skillet oven safe up to 400 degrees.  Season with salt and pepper and place in the oven for about eighteen minutes until golden brown.  Slightly burned is fine.  That is flavor!  Meanwhile, in a saucepan, add the dried pepper pods and toast over medium heat for about three minutes.  Add water until the pods are covered and bring to a boil.  Cover and let sit off the heat about fifteen minutes, or until the peppers have reconstituted.  Tip:  I stem and seed the peppers before I toast them and place them in water.  If you want your sauce extremely hot, you could leave the seeds inside.  
 
The onion and garlic roasted to a nice golden brown is pure flavor. 

Place all of the roasted veggies in a food processor or blender, as well as the reconstituted peppers.  Add a cup of the saucepan pepper water and a teaspoon of honey.  The honey will help balance out the acid spice and heat.  Blend until you have a thick consistency.  Do not worry about it being thick, because you will be adding additional liquids for the braising process soon.  Leave the chile sauce in the blender until you are ready to use.  

Now, here is where I have a story to tell.  Worry not, it is shorter than most of my stories.  My friend, Maria, whom you all know well, by now, was helping me write this recipe.  It was at this point that I received several texts concerning a familial matter which I ended needing to attend to, so I had to put cooking on hold for several hours. The chile sauce had a long time to sit and the flavors had time to marry, so the flavors were quite rich.  I wish I'd had time to roast my spices and incorporate them into the sauce, too, before I had to leave, but, next time!

Back to business.  The bacon should render its fat within a few minutes; remove the bacon bits and set aside for later.  They are great for the cook to snack on!  Place the beef short ribs bone side down in the dutch oven and sear until the skin releases, about three or four minutes.  Turn and sear the meaty side for four minutes, until the meat has begun to caramelize.  The aroma will be amazing.  Trust me. When all the ribs have seared, remove the meat and add the a cup of the Mexican beer to deglaze the pot.  Use a wooden spoon to scrape up the burned or browned bits and stir well.  As the beer begins to burn off and reduce down, add the pepper veggie sauce along with a cup of chicken or beef stock and stir well.  Snuggle the meat back in, meaty side down, if possible, and cover with both beer and stock. Add the dry spices at this time.  Using the spoon, make sure the meat are covered and cushioned by the sauce.  Bring it to a boil and cover.  Place the dutch oven in to the oven at 375 degrees for three hours.  Afterwards, remove the meat, which, by-the-way, may well fall off the bones.  Bring the sauce to a boil and reduce by half.  

 Beef Short Ribs searing in rendered bacon fat. 


The ribs should have a beautiful caramelized sear on al sides, but not cooked all the way through, as they will braise for three hours in the chile sauce with chicken or beef stock and beer!


Beef Short Ribs removed from the braising liquid.  The meat is ready to fall off the bone and is easily shredded, as seen below!


As you shred the meat, do not forget about the reducing sauce in the very hot Dutch oven.  When you have finished shredding the meat, skim as much of the fat from the sauce as possible.  There will be a considerable layer of fat, so be aware that this will take several minutes to affect. Trust me, it will be well worth it!

Once the fat has been removed, place the meat back into the sauce and simmer for about twenty minutes.  You Could, if you like, and I love this alternative, is to take a hunk of the meat, splash down about two tablespoons of the sauce into a skillet over medium-high heat, place the meat atop that, and mix and sear until it crisps up.  I love the crisp meat and the rich, delicate heat of the sauce.  So good!  Just an alternative.  I served my beef short rib taco meat in both small four and doubled corn tortillas with cheese, my favorite hot sauce (as if the chile sauce is not hot enough!) and fresh cilantro. 
I also sprinkled a little bacon atop the cheese and hot sauce before serving.  Amazing. 

I hope you enjoy this recipe.  It is Perfect for our cold winter nights.  The oven heats the kitchen and the home and fills it with amazing aromas.  It is a Delicioso treat!