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Ancho Short Rib Tacos

Three ancho short rib tacos on flour tortillas, topped with pickled red onion and cilantro.
Kate McMillan

Prep 1 hr
Cook 3 hrs
Total 4 hrs
8 servings


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 beef broth plus more as needed
  • 4 dried ancho chiles stemmed and seeded
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 5 pounds 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 dry red wine such as Cabernet or Chianti or Zinfandel
  • 16 to 20 flour or corn tortillas warmed
  • 1 cup Mexican crema, sour cream, or crème fraîche
  • Cilantro leaves for serving


Make the pickled red onions

  • 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

  • Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C).
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Using tongs, transfer the ribs and the chiles to a plate to cool. Set the pot with the cooking liquid aside to cool.
  • 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.
  • 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.


Ancho Short Rib Tacos Variation

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!