Beef Short Ribs with Tomatoes, Roasted Poblanos & Herbs

Winter Blahs

This time of year food gets boring. The produce scene is rather grim (winter veggies aside), and by this time I have usually braised, roasted and root-vegetabled myself nutty. So, I am looking for something to spice things up a bit.

Over the weekend, we had our one year anniversary Cookbook Club dinner. This time around we chose Mexico: One Plate At a Time by Rick Bayless. There is a reason this title won so many awards and accolades. It is a really great cookbook with lots of easy and authentically tasty recipes.

For my part, I made the Costillas De Res A La Mexicana or Beef Short Ribs with Tomatoes, Roasted Poblanos and Herbs. A great answer to the winter blahs, it would be perfect for a Playoff or Superbowl get together. It’s elevated man-food.

You can eat the short ribs on their own, with some Mexican rice, or put the meat in a tortilla (I put anything I can in a tortilla.), along with the veggies for tacos, and Guacamole. You gotta have the Guacamole. If you go the tortilla route, make sure to get good quality, fresh tortillas. It makes all the difference in the world. My favorite for this recipe are the Mi Abuelita tortillas that are in our bread aisle.

Beef Short Ribs with Tomatoes, Roasted Poblanos and Herbs
Mexico: One Plate at A Time by Rick Bayless

5 medium (about 1 lb. total) fresh poblano chiles
2 tablespoons rich tasting pork lard or olive oil
A generous 2 pounds bone-in beef short ribs, trimmed of excess fat
1 large white onion, sliced
6 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 1/2 pounds (3 medium-large round or 9 to 12 plum) ripe tomatoes, cored and chopped into 1/2 inch pieces OR one 28-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice, drained
1 large branch epazote or ½ cup (loosely packed) coarsely chopped cilantro

Roast the peppers over an open flame or 4 inches below a broiler, turning regularly until blistered and blackened all over, 5 minutes for an open flame, 10 minutes for the broiler.  Place in a bowl, cover with a kitchen towel, let cool until handleable. Rub off the blackened skin, then pull out stems and seed pods. Tear the chilies open and rinse briefly to remove any stray seeds and bits of skin. Slice into 1/4-inch strips.

Heat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. In a medium-large Dutch oven, heat the lard or oil on medium-high. Lay the short ribs in a single, uncrowded layer, working in batches if necessary. When richly browned on one side, about 5 minutes, turn them over and brown the other side, 3 to 5 minutes more. Remove to a plate and tip off all but a generous coating of oil on the bottom of the pot.

Set the pot back on the stove and reduce heat to medium. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until golden, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for one minute, then add the tomatoes. Stir occasionally until the tomatoes have softened and lost their juicy look (about 3 minutes for fresh tomatoes, 3 to 5 minutes for canned). Stir in the poblano strips, 1 teaspoon salt and the herb(s).

Nestle the browned meat into the tomato mixture, spooning some of it over the top. Cover the pot and set in the oven. After 1 1/2 hours, check the meat: it should be fork-tender. If not, re-cover and braise for an extra 15 minutes or so.

Using a spatula, remove the meat to a warm serving platter. Tip the pot to collect the chunky sauce at one side and spoon off the fat rises to the top. Taste the sauce and season with additional salt if you think it needs it. Spoon the sauce around the meat. This homey dish doesn’t actually need a garnish, but if you have a sprig of epazote, thyme or marjoram, it’ll look beautiful here.

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