Cooking beef short ribs is new to me. In the past, I’d mostly cooked ground beef, pot roast, stew meat and, on special occasions, sirloin steak. These are all safe, simple options that can build a wide range of flavorful dinners. But sometimes a cook needs a little adventure, and trying out different cuts of meat increases the recipe repertoire.
Last summer, I started cooking beef short ribs, a tender cut of bone-in meat. I used one of those recipes that can make any home cook feel like a domestic magician. And so of course that made me want to cook short ribs again!
It was my sister’s recipe: Provencal Short Ribs. Cooked at a low temperature along with a flavorful blend of fragrant herbs, luscious wine and vegetables, this dish has earned a place among the “company recipes” that are so helpful to have on hand.
Then, recently, I made beef short ribs with chocolate and pancetta. It was around Easter, and I was thinking chocolate. This recipe answered the craving with a rich, slightly bitter, unmistakably cocoa flavor, the dish was so elegant!
Both of those dishes have all the trimmings of fancy feast-day meals. But what about the days when you want to cook with beef short ribs, but you’re in the mood for a more familiar meal? Something the kids will devour? Something like say, tacos?
Good news! Beef short ribs are amazing in tacos. By following a few basic steps, you can make all kinds of beef short rib tacos:
1) If the ribs look a little too big to work with comfortably, you can separate them by cutting between the bones.
2) Trim any fat (it’s okay to leave just a little, though) and season the meat with salt, pepper and herbs or spices. I used oregano.
3) Sear the meat at a high temperature. I used the broiler this time, but you can also sear the meat in a heavy pan on the stovetop.
4) Transfer the meat to your crockpot and add a flavorful sauce that will give the meat plenty of liquid to cook in. Cook for 8-10 hours on low or 4-6 hours on high.
5) Place the meat on a cutting board and let it cool until it’s a comfortable temperature to work with, then remove the bones and pull the meat apart using two forks.
One other advantage of cooking bone-in meat: you can save those bones and use them as the base for a hearty broth.
Now that you have the basics, here’s the taco recipe.
- HOT SAUCE:
- 10 serrano chiles, stemmed and cut into ⅛-inch discs
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- ½ cup thinly sliced onion
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 cup water
- ½ cup distilled white vinegar
- 3 lbs. short ribs, trimmed of fat
- salt, pepper and oregano to taste
- ¾ cup water
- HOT SAUCE:
- Saute peppers, garlic, onions, salt, oil and sugar over high heat for 3 minutes. Add water and simmer until vegetables are soft and most of the liquid evaporates (20-25 minutes).
- Turn off the heat and let this mixture cool to room temperature, then puree in a blender or food processor until smooth. Add vinegar and continue to puree until incorporated.
- Cool the sauce in the fridge.
- Preheat your oven to broil. Cut the ribs into smaller sections if desired, and season all over with salt, pepper and oregano.
- Place a pan on the bottom rack of your oven to catch drips, and cook the ribs on the rack just above the pan. Cook ribs for 8 minutes, and then flip and cook another 8 minutes.
- Transfer ribs to crockpot, top with ⅔ cup hot sauce and ¾ cup water and cook 8-10 hours on low or 4-6 hours on high.
- Place ribs on a cutting board and let them cool enough to work with. Remove the bones (save them for a hearty stew!) and pull the rib meat apart with forks.
- If you want to spice up the meat, stir in as much of the remaining hot sauce as desired.
- Serve with warm corn tortillas and Pico de Gallo Salsa.
For the salsa that topped the tacos, I turned to Janell Weaver Gutierrez’s authentic Pico de Gallo Salsa. Janell grew up at Weaver’s Orchard, one of the locations where you can purchase our beef, and she now lives in Puebla, Mexico with her husband and son. Since she grew up around fresh-picked ingredients and is now learning new recipes from her Mexican mother-in-law, I see good reason to rely on her salsa-making advice! Janell suggests mixing mangoes, peaches or avocados into this basic salsa. Avocados were particularly delicious along with the tender, melt-in-your-mouth beef in these tacos.