Braised beef short ribs tacos

Once again we put our trust in Cook’s Illustrated to help us make an unholy matrimony of tacos and something slightly off-kilter. Specifically: Braised beef short ribs.1


The short ribs

  • 6 large beef short ribs
  • 4 whole sprigs thyme, and one tbsp one tsp of thyme leaves
  • 1 tbsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 3 dozen small pearl onions
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1/3 cup diced carrot
  • 1/3 cup diced celery
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups port
  • 2 1/2 cups red wine
  • 6 cups beef or veal stock
  • 4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley

The horseradish sauce

  • 3/4 cup crème fraîche
  • 1 tbsp prepared horseradish
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

The steps

Image of spare ribs

Season the short ribs with 1 tbsp thyme and the cracked black pepper. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

Remove from fridge an hour before cooking, and let them come to room temperature while you heat the oven to 425. Season them generously with salt.

Toss the pearl onions with 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp thyme, 3/4 tsp salt, and a pinch of pepper. Spread them on a baking sheet and roast them until tender, about 15 minutes. When they have cooled, slip off the skins and set aside. Turn the oven down to 325.

Heat a large Dutch oven over high heat for 3 minutes. Pour in 3 tbsp olive oil, and wait until the oil is almost smoking. Place the ribs in pan, and sear on the three meaty sides until they’re browned, about 20 minutes. Transfer them to a plate to rest.

Turn heat down to medium and add the onion, carrot, celery, thyme springs, and bay leaves. Stir with a wooden spoon, scraping up all the crusty bits in the pan. Cook 6 to 8 minutes, until the vegetables just begin to caramelize. Add the balsamic vinegar, port, and red wine. Turn the heat up to high, and reduce the liquid by half.

Add the stock and bring to a boil. Arrange ribs flat in the pot, bones standing up. Scrape any vegetables that have fallen on the ribs back into the liquid. The stock mixture should almost cover the ribs. Tuck the parsley sprigs in and around the meat. Cover tightly and braise in the oven for about 3 hours.

The meat will be done when it easily yields to a knife. Put them aside on a baking sheet to let them rest for about 10 minutes. Turn oven up to 400. When ready, brown the ribs for about 10-15 minutes.

Strain the broth into a saucepan, pressing down on the vegetables with a ladle to extract all the juices. Skim the fat from the sauce and, if the broth seems thin, reduce it over medium–high heat to thicken slightly.

As for the horseradish cream? Add the ingredients, throw in some salt and pepper, and stir. Really, how hard did you expect it to be?

The Tortillaing

We went the basic route—two tortillas, ribs, sauce, topped with a good dollop of horseradish cream and a sprinkle of green onions.

Is the dish awesome then? Of course it is! Ribs! On a tortilla! With a teeth-kicking sauce! Only a mean, angry person would dislike this. Don’t let the bourgeoisie keep you away from the truly beautiful things in life. You deserve this.

1 Granted, ribs aren’t as much of a deviation as coq au vin, but we still challenge Taco Bell to re-create this recipe. Plus: horseradish sauce, yo.