A lot of things have happened recently in my life that made me want to make short rib carnitas (and then turn 'em into tacos) in a Mexican-ish way. First, you remember that my friend Tim gave us some super delish short ribs and we made them Asian-style.
THEN, at supper club last week our friend Matt made pork carnitas that were so stinking good I couldn't stop eating them for approximately 4 hours.
I also drank several beers during that time, but that's neither here nor there.
So, clearly, I've been inundated with yummy braised meats recently, so I decided to get some dang short ribs and make 'em taste like tacos. It was one of the better decisions I've made in quite some time, and I HIGHLY recommend that you do the same. The great part about this way to use short ribs is that you DON'T NEED A TON OF MEAT. These things aren't always the cheapest, but with tacos/chips/salsa/rice you don't need too much meat per person. Maybe ½ pound or so, and that includes bones. For this particular night, I made these for me, Jay, and Jay's boss who is in town right now. I had 3 4-inch or so ribs, and we each had 2 or 3 tacos and currently have enough leftovers for probably for more tacos. So....you don't need much meat! Promise.
For the filling, you need beef short ribs, a beer, beef stock, garlic, seasoning salt, chili powder, cumin, and Worcestershire sauce. Easy stuff! Beyond that, any taco junk you like is great. More on how to build these guys later.
We want to have the short ribs at room temperature before we sear/braise them. Let them sit on the counter for a while! Preheat the oven to 275F, too. While that's happening, preheat a large pot (don't use nonstick if you can help it) to medium-high heat with a drizzle of oil. We need a VERY hot pot for beef-searing. While the pot is heating, crush the garlic cloves with the side of your knife, then peel them.
When the pan is very hot, sear the ribs on all sides, sprinkling them directly with seasoning salt, cumin, and chili powder as you go. About 1 teaspoon of each for this whole process is good! We add more seasoning later, so don't freak out. As you turn the ribs, let them SIT to get really good and brown. If they stick, let them sit longer - they'll release from the pan when they're nice and crusty.
Cover the pot and braise the ribs FOR A LONG TIME. Like, 5 - 6 hours if you can manage it. If you don't have that kind of time, increase the oven temperature to 300F or even 325F and check the ribs after 2 hours. The ribs are done when they're super duper fork tender, like this!
I just shredded one right after cooking to be sure it was super tender. Then I ate it. At this point, you can serve the meat right away, but I prefer to stick the entire pot in the fridge overnight. The fat will rise to the top of the pot and harden, then the next day you can literally break it away in chunks and discard it. Then all you're left with is lovely tender short ribs in a really flavorful juice. If you don't skim off the fat, the pan juices won't taste as flavorful, so I'd HIGHLY recommend making these a day in advance if you can manage it.
If you do the overnight method, just reheat the pot on the stovetop over medium heat after you remove the fat layer to heat everything through. Taste the sauce with a bit of meat - add some more salt if you think it needs it. My beef stock was fully salted, so I didn't need any additional seasoning. Shred the meat with two forks, and we're good to go!
Those are my must-haves, but you can use salsa, lettuce, onions....anything you like! I really like a simple topping assortment with these because the meat is SO good - I get covering up ground beef with a ton of toppings, but REALLY not these.
Make a plan to make these ASAP - it's definitely worth the time, and they're really simple to make.
And also. See that slaw? It's new. I'll tell ya about it tomorrow. Promise.
Beef Short Rib Carnitas
- 3 - 4 beef short ribs about 4 inches each (2 pounds or so)
- 5 cloves garlic peeled and smashed
- 1 teaspoon seasoning salt
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- 3 teaspoons chili powder
- 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1 can beer your choice
- 2 - 4 cups beef stock
- soft taco shells cilantro, lime wedges, and crumbled cheese, for serving (or anything else you like!)
- Preheat a large ovenproof pot to medium-high heat with a drizzle of oil. Preheat the oven to 275F. Sear the short ribs on all sides, for 10 or so minutes, sprinkling on 1 teaspoon each of cumin, chili powder, and seasoning salt as you go. When the ribs are dark and crusty on the outside, remove them to a plate to rest.
- Reduce the heat on the pot to medium and add the beer. Deglaze the pan, stirring to remove any bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the garlic and remaining cumin and chili powder, then add the worcestershire sauce. When the beer has reduced by about half, add the short ribs back to the pot. Pour in just enough stock to nearly cover the short ribs.
- Cover the pot, and braise in the oven for 4 - 6 hours until the short ribs are fork tender. Shred with forks, discard any connective tissue and the bones, and serve in soft tacos as desired.
- If you don't have an ovenproof pot, sear the ribs on the stovetop in a pan, then remove the ribs to a covered casserole dish. Deglaze the pan with the beer, then pour the beer over the ribs. Add the rest of the ingredients directly to the casserole dish, cover, and bake according to the rest of the recipe!
- Making overnight is highly recommended. Store in fridge overnight after braising, then skim the fat off the top of the ribs the next day. Reheat the sauce, shred the ribs, and serve as desired.
Submitted to weekend potluck - my favorite drool-worthy Friday-morning activity!