Shortribs 5

Braised beef short ribs are the epitome of “high end” comfort food. They can often be found on restaurant menus, cooked with classical French or Asian flavors and bearing a somewhat hefty price tag. I think many people have the misconception that they’re pricey because they’re technically difficult or labor-intensive to prepare, but those preconceived notions couldn’t be father from the truth.

Yes, at the grocery store beef short ribs aren’t as inexpensive as stew or braising meat, but getting the result of tender, succulent, fall-off-the bone meat is so worth extra cost. And this “fancy” restaurant dish can be prepared right in your own kitchen (culinary degree not required). Making braised short ribs at home is definitely worth the effort, and they are, in fact, pretty effortless to prepare. They even create their own sauce while they cook.

For a twist on this classic dish, I’ve put a Southwestern spin on it, using spices and flavors commonly found in Southwestern cuisine and — my favorite bit — tequila. Serve them on a bed of garlic mashed potatoes or sweet corn polenta (as I’ve done) to soak up the flavorful, gravy-like sauce.

Southwestern Chipotle and Tequila Braised Beef Short Ribs
Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

8-10 3-inch-long beef short ribs
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground coriander

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 cups onion, chopped
1 cup carrots, chopped
6 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2-3 chopped canned chipotle chilies in Adobo, plus one tablespoon Adobo sauce
1/4 cup tequila (I prefer gold tequila.)
1 14-ounce can low-salt beef broth diluted with 2 cups water
1 can diced tomatoes, drained
1 bay leaf

1 Anaheim, New Mexico or Mirasol (non-spicy) chili pepper, seeded and cut into rings
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Lime wedges, for garnish

Directions:

1. Combine spices then divide the mixture in half. Sprinkle half of the spice mixture all over short ribs. Place ribs on plate; cover and chill 1 hour or up to 1 day.

2. Preheat oven to 350°F. Heat oil in large cast iron or ovenproof pot over medium-high heat. Add half of ribs and brown on all sides and transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining ribs. Reduce heat to medium. Add onion, carrots, garlic and reserved spice mixture to the same pot; cook until onion and carrots are soft, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.

3. Add tomato paste, chipotle chilies and Adobo sauce to pot and stir frequently, allowing the tomato paste to caramelize a bit, about 5 minutes.

4. Deglaze the pot with tequila scraping up browned bits, let cook for about a minute, then add broth/water mix and bring to boil. Reduce to a simmer, add tomatoes and bay leaf, and return the ribs to the pot, meaty side down. Cover and cook in the oven until ribs are fork tender, about 3 hours. Every hour, rotate the ribs in the pot so they cook evenly.

5. When the ribs are fork tender and falling off the bone, remove pot from oven and remove lid. Spoon off the fat floating on the surface. Add chili pepper rings, place pot over medium-low heat and simmer uncovered until sauce coats spoon and peppers are soft, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste (and it may not even need it).

6. Serve short ribs over mashed potatoes or polenta, spoon sauce on top, sprinkle with cilantro and serve with a lime wedge.

(Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool 30 minutes, refrigerate uncovered until cold, then cover and keep refrigerated.)

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