Short-Rib Taco Volcano

FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY BY COLLEEN DUFFLEY — Spring 2019

Executive chef Ricky Robles of Aliso Viejo Country Club in Aliso Viejo, Calif., serves this beefy guajillo-braised short-rib taco with two colorful salsas. He named his creation after the Volcano, a popular taco dish served at Mexico City street stands.

12 guajillo chilies, seeded with stems removed
2 tomatoes, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1/2 white onion, diced
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon white vinegar salt and pepper
3 pounds short ribs
2 sprigs fresh thyme 
2 cups beef stock
12-24 corn tortillas
1 yellow onion, diced
1/2 cup cilantro sprigs
1 cup Cotija cheese Roasted Red Salsa (recipe follows)
Green Salsa (recipe follows)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Add the first seven ingredients and salt and pepper to taste in a large braising pan. On the stove, cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the chilies, tomatoes, and onions have softened, about 15 minutes. When cooled, discard the bay leaf and blend the mixture in a food processor thoroughly. Set aside.

In the same braising pan over medium-high heat, sear the short ribs on each side until golden brown. Add the mixture from the blender to the braising pan along with thyme and beef stock. Roast in the oven for 3 hours until the ribs are tender.

Remove short ribs from the oven and shred the meat from the bones. To assemble the tacos, divide the meat among warmed corn tortillas and top with yellow onion, cilantro, and cheese. Drizzle the red and green salsas over each taco.

Yield: 6 servings

ROASTED RED SALSA

2 fresh whole jalapeños, stems removed 
1 serrano pepper, stem removed
6 tomatoes, chopped 
5 garlic cloves 
1 white onion, chopped 
1/4 cup vegetable oil 
1 teaspoon salt 
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup cilantro, stems removed
1 sprig fresh oregano 
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice  

Place the jalapeños, serrano pepper, tomatoes, garlic, onion, and vegetable oil in a bowl and toss. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place vegetables on the baking sheet and broil until softened and charred, 10 to 15 minutes.

Transfer the vegetables and their juices to a food processor. Add salt, pepper, and cumin and process until slightly chunky. Add the cilantro, oregano sprig, and lime and lemon juices. Pulse until the cilantro is chopped. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt and lime juice if desired. 

GREEN SALSA

2 fresh whole jalapeños, stems removed
1 serrano pepper, stem removed
1 pound tomatillos, peeled 
5 garlic cloves 
1 white onion
1/4 cup vegetable oil 
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon lemon juice 
1/4 cup water 
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 cup cilantro, stems removed

Place jalapeños, serrano pepper, tomatillos, garlic, onion, and vegetable oil in a large bowl and toss. Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place vegetables on the baking sheet and broil until softened and charred, 10 to 15 minutes.

Transfer the vegetables to a blender and add the lime and lemon juices and 1/4 cup of water. Add the salt, pepper, and cumin and blend until smooth. Add the cilantro and blend about 5 seconds until the cilantro is incorporated. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt and lime juice if desired.

CHEF’S TIPS:

“To save time, ask your butcher to remove the bones from the short ribs so you can skip a step.”

“Slowly cooked short ribs break down into perfectly braised taco meat — rich, spicy, and fittingly messy.”

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