Beef Short Ribs with Chile Rub

These beef short ribs with chile rub are slowly braised until tender. In other words, they’re utterly irresistible.

A white enamel pot with pieces of beef short ribs with chile rub and a wooden spoon.

I discovered on a recent trip to the Southwest that they don’t just drink coffee or use it for the occasional tiramisu—they brine, marinade, rub, and barbecue with it. Whether a strong espresso or a mild cup of joe, it’s used to give an earthy layer to big bold meats, especially pork and beef. You can use coffee granules, instant coffee, or a cup of coffee to enhance flavor. Prepare to be surprised, as coffee gives a whole other flavor and depth to the rub mixture in this recipe.–Valerie Aikman-Smith

*What's a short rib?

We swoon to beef short ribs. Prepared any way. Period. Tender and possessing a beefy taste, they aren’t actually cut from the rib section of the cow, as you’d assume from their name. They’re actually cut from the chuck, or shoulder, of the cow and consist of the ends of the ribs near the breastbone. For that reason, chuck roast is the best substitute when boneless short ribs are unavailable, though it does fall short of the flavor and succulence we’ve come to expect from fatty (in a good way) short ribs.

Beef Short Ribs with Chile Rub

  • Quick Glance
  • (2)
  • 45 M
  • 4 H, 25 M
  • Serves 4 to 6
5/5 - 2 reviews
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Ingredients

  • For the coffee and chile rub
  • For the beef short ribs

Directions

Make the coffee and chile rub

In a bowl, combine all the rub ingredients. You should have a scant 1/4 cup. (You can store the rub in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid for up to 1 month.)

Make the beef short ribs

Place the ribs in a large bowl and sprinkle with the coffee and chile rub. (Go ahead and use all the rub.) Massage the ribs with the rub, using your hands to ensure the ribs are completely coated. Cover and refrigerate for 6 to 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 350ºF (180ºC).

Remove the ribs from the fridge. In a Dutch oven or casserole dish large enough to fit all the ribs, heat the oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, brown the ribs on all sides, which ought to take 6 to 10 minutes.  Remove the ribs from the pot as they are done and place them on a plate.

Add the garlic, onion, and jalapeños to the drippings in the pot and cook until softened, 3 to 5 minutes, turning down the heat to medium-low if necessary. Carefully pour in the espresso or coffee, tomatoes, and vinegar, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer. Return the ribs to the pot, put the lid on, and slide it into the oven. Let the ribs braise until tender, 2 to 3 hours. (Begin checking the ribs at 2 hours and then check every 20 minutes or so after that.)

Remove the pot from the oven and let it rest for 30 minutes. If desired, skim any fat from the surface of the sauce. Serve the ribs in bowls with lots of sauce and sprinkle with torn basil leaves, if desired. Originally published October 13, 2015.

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    How to use this chile rub on pork

    • Place any cut of pork—butt, shoulder, loin, tenderloin, or chops—in a glass dish, sprinkle with the rub, and massage it into the meat. Cover and refrigerate for 8 to 24 hours. Let the meat come to room temperature before cooking the cut of pork as you normally would.

    Recipe Testers' Reviews

    I love braised dishes, and have cooked short ribs many times and many ways. This one, though, with the coffee and chile rub, was new for me. I’ve done pork with a similar rub before, and liked it. Still, I was surprised—positively—with how good these ribs turned out. Strong, not too spicy flavor, gorgeous color, and tender meat. A definite keeper.

    You have to be careful not to have the heat too high when browning the meat, as the coffee rub burns easily. I pulled the meat after 5 minutes. Then I braised the meat for 2 hours, at which point it was definitely done.

    Then I took it out of the sauce, kept it warm, and reduced the sauce a little bit. I added a little more vinegar (I’ve an espresso balsamico at home, which worked beautifully) and a sprinkle of sugar to the sauce. I served the meat with plenty of sauce and as sides I did soft polenta and steamed broccoli, which accompanied the ribs perfectly and looked nice on the plate, too. Perfect.

    Wow, wow, wow! Fall off the bone, rich, delicious beef short ribs with a little kick. My guests went wild over this dish. The rub is easy to pull together and was the exact amount needed to cover the 4 pounds ribs. I marinated the ribs overnight, which imparted a nice flavor throughout the meat.

    Be sure to brown the meat on all sides, which does take about 8 to 10 minutes, as the recipe states. One caveat—take a tiny taste of your jalapeños. Some can be very hot, and some not hot at all. Mine were habanero hot, so I only used about 3/4 of a jalapeño as opposed to 2 whole jalapeños and that was plenty. The meat had just the right amount of heat.

    Another thing I might add is a little more diced tomato with its juices. It would’ve been nice to have a little sauce left after the meat was cooked. I added about 1/2 cup water after the 3 hours of roasting to scrape up all the yummy fond on the bottom and sides of the pot. This added a little more moisture, and a tiny bit of “gravy.” The beef short ribs with chile coffee rub were juicy, so delicious, so flavorful, and just plain memorable.

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    Comments

    1. Made this last night and it was delicious. I, too, was confused about the coffee. I did use finely ground coffee beans from Peet’s Coffee for the rub. For the sauce, I used instant espresso powder and made one cup coffee using 2 tsp. of the powder? Is that how it was supposed to be? I also used 8 very large and meaty short ribs. They shrink up a lot, so we will get at least two good dinners for the two of us from this, and one or two small ribs left over. I served with a cauliflower mash, with butter, roasted garlic and fresh thyme from our garden. Also, red chard cooked in the water left on the leaves from rinsing them, crushed red pepper and fresh lemon juice.

      The Balsamic Vinegar touch in the recipe is brilliant. Thank for a very nice recipe.

      As with all short ribs, there is a lot of fat associated with this recipe. I skimmed as much as I could from the top last night, and this morning removed the solidified fat.

      1. Karen, you’re welcome and thanks so much for asking about the coffee. Yes, what you did is perfect. I reworded the recipe instructions slightly trying to clarify. Kindly let me know if it makes a little more sense now? So pleased that you loved this recipe! And perfect on refrigerating it overnight and then skimming.

    2. Hi, Renee –

      Quick question (although this probably sounds ridiculous). When you say 1 cup freshly brewed espresso, are you referring to the small cup espresso comes in or a regular size cup?

      I’ve been looking at this recipe for some time and now that it’s cooler, I’ve finally been hankering to make this.

      Thanks!

      JT

      1. Hey JT, not ridiculous at all. I love that you asked for clarification. We actually mean 1 measuring cup of espresso, as in 8 ounces. I know it sounds like quite a lot, but the tomatoes temper the bitterness of the espresso quite nicely. Really glad to hear you’re going to make it, would love to know what you think…

    3. This was wonderful. I Increased the tomatoes, espresso and vinegar by half again, because I wanted lots of sauce. Amazing. Can’t wait to reheat the leftovers!

      1. Many thanks for taking the time to let us know, Pam. Brilliant thinking on making extra sauce to spoon over mashed potatoes or polenta or rice or, gosh, just about anything, actually! Really looking forward to hearing which recipe on the site you try next…

    4. Torture, torture I tell you!
      That photo of the short ribs will haunt my dreams tonight.

      Don’t get me started on the chorizo bites…grrrrr.

      I’m thinking I may do the short ribs in the crockpot.
      Hmmm…

        1. Will do Renee…I personally wouldn’t mind having it for Thanksgiving…we’re not big bird fans, dark meat only.

    5. Ahhhh a beef short ribs recipe done on the stove… I love this. Love the flavors. I do have one question – is the ground coffee beans the same as the ground coffee I put in my coffee filter? I assume that if I finely grind coffee beans that is what I get, right? Thank you! This is our kind of autumn/winter meal.

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