Hearty and flavorful, this dish will warm up autumn
Chillier weather is headed our way. So we’re pulling out the braising pot – which is dusty after not being used all summer.
Braised beef short ribs are a fave around here. And we love Mexican-style dishes, so adding chilies is a natural.
We think you’ll love these short ribs. Serve them to guests, and they’ll love you too.
Recipe: Mexican-Spiced Braised Short Ribs
Short ribs star in this dish, but chilies play a vital supporting role. And because this is Hatch chile season, we include Hatchies in the mix (if they’re unavailable in your market, fresh poblano chilies make a fine substitute). We also add jalapeño chiles (because we love jalapeños). Plus dried chipotle chile powder for its deep, smoky flavor.
We consider this dish moderately spicy, but you may disagree. So add or subtract chilies to reach your preferred level of heat.
This recipe mostly follows the procedure outlined in our post on Italian Braised Short Ribs (although the flavor of this dish is quite different). We also borrow some ideas from Rick Bayless.
Prep time for this dish is around 30 minutes. Cooking time adds about 2¼ hours (much of it unattended). Our instructions assume you’ll be making and serving this dish in one go. But we usually make it a day or two ahead of time and then reheat it (instructions for doing that are in the Notes).
This dish yields 4 servings (but see Notes).
- 3 to 4 pounds beef short ribs (see Notes)
- salt to taste (a teaspoon or two of kosher salt; see Notes)
- 1 to 2 tablespoons cooking oil (as needed)
- 1 large onion, cut into dice of about ½ inch
- 4 to 6 garlic cloves, minced or sliced thinly (to taste)
- 1 to 2 jalapeño peppers, stemmed, seeded, and minced (or to taste)
- additional salt to taste (a teaspoon of kosher salt for us; see Notes)
- ~8 ounces diced Hatch or poblano green chilies that have been roasted, peeled, and seeded (see Notes for prep instructions)
- ~2 tablespoons tomato paste
- ~2 teaspoons dried chipotle chile powder (to taste; see Notes)
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 28-ounce can of diced tomatoes
- 1 cup beef broth
- ¼ cup chopped cilantro
- polenta or grits for serving (optional)
- jalapeño slices for garnish (optional)
- additional chopped cilantro for garnish (optional)
- Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Then brown the short ribs: Heat a large Dutch oven over medium stovetop heat. While the cooking pot is warming, dry the short ribs with paper towels (they won’t brown properly if damp) and season them to taste with salt. When the cooking pan is hot, add the oil. Then add the short ribs – as many as you can fit in without crowding the pot (do this in batches if necessary, adding more oil if needed for each batch). Brown the short rib pieces on each side until they’re nicely colored (about 3 to 4 minutes for each side; don’t rush – the browner the short ribs, the better the flavor). When they’re fully browned, remove the short ribs to a plate.
- While the short ribs are browning, chop the onion, mince the garlic, and chop or mince the jalapeño peppers. When the short ribs have finished browning, pour off most of the cooking oil (leaving about a tablespoon in the pan). Add the onions to the pan, season to taste with salt, and sauté until the onions are translucent and beginning to brown (5 to 8 minutes). Then add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Add the chopped Hatch or poblano peppers and the diced jalapeño peppers. Cook for 1 minute.
- Add the tomato paste and sauté for 2 minutes, stirring often so it doesn’t burn. Add the chipotle chile powder and the oregano, then stir them into the tomato paste. Next, add the canned tomatoes and the beef broth. Bring the mixture to a simmer.
- Return the short ribs to the cooking pot, nestling them into the braising liquid. Bring the liquid back to a simmer. Then cover the cooking pot with aluminum foil, pushing it down into the pot so that it almost touches the ribs (the foil creates a seal and reduces the amount of space in the pot, making for a better braise). Cover the cooking pot with a lid and place it in the oven. Braise for 2 hours.
- Check the meat. It should be tender after 2 hours, but not falling off the bone. If the meat isn’t done enough for your liking, continue to cook it a bit longer (or if you want it falling off the bone, cook another 30 minutes).
- Remove the short ribs from the braising liquid. If serving immediately: Spoon off as much fat as possible from the braising liquid. Continue to cook the liquid on the stovetop to reduce it and create a thickened sauce (this takes about 15 minutes or so). Taste the sauce and add seasoning if necessary. Then stir in the chopped cilantro. Return the meat to the cooking pot to warm it, then serve. (If you prefer to make this dish a day or so ahead, see the Notes.)
- We like to serve these short ribs over polenta or grits: Add a dollop of polenta/grits to each serving plate, then center a short rib on top. Spoon on some of the sauce. Garnish each plate with a jalapeño slice if you like, and maybe sprinkle on some additional chopped cilantro.
- We like to prepare this dish a day or two ahead of time. To do so: Remove the meat from the cooking pot in Step 6. Then let the sauce cool. Place the cooled meat and cooking liquid into a lidded container and refrigerate it. When ready to serve, remove any solidified fat from the surface of the sauce (the fat always rises to the top). Add the short ribs and sauce to a cooking pot and bring the mixture to a simmer. Cook until the meat is warm throughout (about 15 minutes). If the sauce isn’t as thick as you’d like, remove the short ribs, cover the short ribs with aluminum foil to keep warm, and reduce the sauce.
- Short ribs have a lot of bone and fat, so we always figure on 1 large short rib (or 2 smaller ones) per person – about ¾ pound. We usually buy a bit more because someone might be extra hungry and want seconds. And leftover short ribs are delicious.
- We generally buy several pounds of fresh Hatch green chilies when they’re in season, then roast, skin, seed, and freeze them in packages of about 8 ounces each.
- To roast green chilies (whether for freezing or immediate use): Wash and dry them, then spread them out on a broiler pan (you can place them on a rack if you wish). Place the pan under the broiler and heat the chilies until their skins begin to blister and blacken (you want to blacken the skin only, not the flesh of the chile). Turn the chilies and repeat until all sides are blistered. Then place the chilies in a bowl and cover with a plate or plastic wrap. Allow the chilies to steam for about 15 minutes. Then put on a pair of kitchen gloves (to protect your hands from the chile oils) and, using your hands, rub the skin of each chile until it peels off (this is sometimes easier to do under running water). Then cut off the stem-end of each chile, slice each chile open lengthwise, and remove the seeds.
- Once your chilies are roasted and prepared, you can cut them into thin strips or dice them. Then portion and freeze the chilies (or use them immediately).
- Most of chilies’ heat is contained in their seeds. So if you remove the seeds, you’ll cut down on the heat (but won’t lose any chile flavor).
- We use dried chipotle chile powder in this recipe, but you could substitute a milder chile powder (like ancho) if you wish. Alternatively, you could substitute a whole canned chipotle chile or two (just whirl the chile in a mini food processor to mince it before using).
- Our recipe specifies 2 teaspoons of dried chile powder, but feel free to use more if you prefer a spicier dish. If you’re unsure about the heat level, start with 1 teaspoon of chile powder. Then add more in Step 6 if you wish. Be sure to simmer the sauce for at least 5 minutes after adding chile powder so its flavor permeates the dish.
- We use kosher salt in cooking. It’s less salty by volume than regular table salt (the crystals are larger and more irregular, so they pack a measure less tightly). If you’re using table salt, start with about half the amount we suggest. But always season to your taste, not ours.
“Love Hatch chile season,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs.
“Whenever they appear in our market, we know summer is ending and autumn is upon us,” I said. “So it’s time to chile out.”
“That joke came up short,” said Mrs K R. “Appropriate for this recipe, I guess.”
“OK,” I said. “But you have to admit this dish really sticks to your ribs!”
“Was that supposed to be a witticism or a cry for help?” said Mrs K R.
She really knows how to rib me.
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