'Tacolicious' Shows Us How To Make Guajillo-Braised Beef Short Rib Tacos, AKA Our New Favorite Spicy Dish

If there is one thing we can say with absolute certainty, it's that tacos are the best. No matter how you like them — in a hard shell or soft, topped with a spoonful of sour cream or a dollop of tangy guac — tacos are always a crowd pleaser. And just when you think they can't get any better, 'Tacolicious' throws this game-changing recipe at us.

Brought to us by the masterminds behind the wildly popular San Francisco-based restaurants of the same name, 'Tacolicious: Festive Recipes for Tacos, Snacks, Cocktails, and More' is a cookbook packed full of recipes any taco lover can get behind, ranging from flavor-filled tamales and tostadas to mind-blowing margaritas. Today, they're showing us how to make guajillo-braised beef short rib tacos, and if you're into food with a spicy kick, then this is definitely one dish that has your name written all over it. No need to worry about what's for dinner tonight — 'Tacolicious' has it all figured out for you.

Guajillo-Braised Beef Short Rib Tacos

Everyone has his or her favorite Tacolicious taco, but this is mine, hands down. These short ribs cooked slowly with guajillos break down into the perfect braised meat: rich, a tad spicy, and appropriately messy— a true sign of greatness. You can ask your butcher to bone the ribs for you, or you can just cook them with the bone in and then bone them before shredding the meat. You’ll need 5 pounds of bone-in short ribs to yield the required 3 pounds of meat. This dish can be on the spicy side, so if you’re really sensitive to heat, cut back a little on the chiles.

Makes 16 tacos; serves 4 to 6.

Ingredients: 

  • 8 guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 3 dried chipotle chiles, stemmed and seeded
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 pounds boneless beef short ribs
  • 1 large yellow onion, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 (12-ounce) bottle Negro Modelo or other dark
  • Mexican beer
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 11/2 tablespoons dried
  • Mexican oregano
  • 11/2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • Corn tortillas, warmed, for serving
  • Chopped white onion, chopped fresh cilantro, salsa of choice, and lime wedges, for serving

Instructions:

1. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Working in two batches if necessary to avoid crowding, lightly toast all of the chiles in a dry, heavy skillet over medium heat for 30 seconds on each side, until fragrant but not blackened. Set them aside on a plate.

2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a Dutch oven or other heavy pot with a lid over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, working in batches to avoid crowding, add the meat and sear for about 3 minutes on each side, until the pieces have formed a uniformly browned crust. Add more oil to the pot as needed to prevent scorching. As the pieces are ready, set them aside on a plate.

3. Add the onion to the same pot over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until it starts to brown. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes.

4. Pour in the beer, add the toasted chiles, and turn down the heat to low. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until the chiles have softened and are pliable. Remove from the heat and let cool.

5. Transfer the contents of the pot to a blender and reserve the pot. Add the cumin, pepper, oregano, salt, and water to the blender and blend the mixture on high speed until smooth and the consistency of cream, adding more water if needed to thin the mixture a bit.

6. Return the seared meat to the pot and pour in the chile mixture. Cover, transfer to the oven, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 to 4 hours, until the meat is fork-tender. 

7. Remove from the oven and, using tongs or a couple of forks, shred the meat in the pot. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt if needed. Serve with the tortillas, onion, cilantro, salsa, and lime.

Reprinted with permission from Tacolicious, by Sara Deseran and Joe Hargrave, copyright © 2014, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House LLC.

Photographs copyright © 2014 by Alex Farnum

Must Reads