We’ve been seeing an awful lot of ancho short rib tacos on menus lately. And we suspect you’ve experienced this, too. At first glance, the concept may seem an unlikely melding of short ribs and ancho chiles and aromatics and (a waste of) good red wine. But wait’ll you taste the results when shredded and harnessed as taco filling. And if we may make a suggestion, have lots of napkins at the standby.–Renee Schettler Rossi
LC Authenticity Is Overrated Note
Are these ancho short rib tacos authentic Mexican? Nah. Are they worth making? Heck yeah. [Editor’s Note: This is one of those rare instances when we’ll concede that authenticity is, at times, somewhat overrated.]
Ancho Short Rib Tacos
- Quick Glance
- 1 H
- 4 H
- Serves 6 to 8
- For the pickled red onions
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 3 tablespoons thawed frozen orange juice concentrate
- 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano
- 1 bay leaf (optional)
- Kosher salt, to taste
- 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
- For the tacos
- 3 cups (24 ounces or 750 milliliters) beef broth, plus more as needed
- 4 dried ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 5 pounds (2.5 kilograms) bone-in beef short ribs
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 yellow onion, finely chopped (2 to 3 cups)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 cup (8 ounces or 250 milliliters) dry red wine, such as Cabernet or Chianti or Zinfandel
- 16 to 20 flour or corn tortillas, warmed
- 1 cup (8 ounces or 250 grams) Mexican crema, sour cream, or crème fraîche
- Cilantro leaves, for serving
- Make the pickled red onions
- 1. In a bowl, combine the vinegar, orange juice concentrate, sugar, oregano, bay leaf, and salt. Stir until the sugar is dissolved. Add the red onion and stir to coat evenly. Cover and let stand at room temperature, stirring occasionally, for 6 to 8 hours. Remove and discard the bay leaf. Refrigerate, covered, until ready to use and for up to 1 month.
- Make the tacos
- 2. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
- 3. In a saucepan over high heat, bring the broth to a boil, then remove from the heat and add the ancho chiles. Set aside to steep.
- 4. Warm the olive oil in an ovenproof pot over medium-high heat. Pat the short ribs dry and season all over with salt and pepper. Working in batches, add the ribs to the pot and sear until browned on all sides, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
- 5. Add the yellow onion to the pot and cook, stirring often, until golden, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic, season with salt and pepper, and cook just until the garlic is soft, about 1 minute. Add the broth, chiles, and wine, stirring to scrape up any browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Nestle the ribs in the liquid, cover the pot, and transfer to the oven until the meat falls off the bones, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Check the pot every 45 minutes or so to make sure there is enough liquid, adding more broth as needed; it should reach about 3/4 of the way up the sides of the ribs.
- 6. Using tongs, transfer the ribs and the chiles to a plate to cool. Set the pot with the cooking liquid aside to cool.
- 7. When the ribs are cool enough to handle, use your hands or 2 forks to shred the meat. Discard the bones. Using a large spoon, skim the fat off the top of the cooled liquid in the pot. Transfer the contents of the pot and 1 of the reserved chiles to a blender and process to a smooth purée. Taste and, if desired, add more chile and purée again. Otherwise discard the remaining chiles. Return the puréed sauce to the pot and bring to a boil over high heat to warm it through. If a thicker sauce is desired, cook until the sauce reduces by half, about 5 minutes. Add the shredded meat and cook just until warmed through, about 4 minutes.
- 8. To assemble the tacos, fill the tortillas with the meat (using about 3 to 4 tablespoons shredded meat per taco) and top with some drained pickled onions, a dollop of crema, and some cilantro. Serve right away.
- Quick Pickled Red Onions
- When you’re short on ingredients but desperately need to satisfy a craving for these ancho short rib tacos, just squeeze some lime over thinly sliced red onions and wait a few minutes or hours as in this quick pickled red onions recipe. Tada!