This is my adaptation of the XOCO Short Rib Caldo. I've used the slow cooker to prepare the meat and soup base. Do that step the day before since it will be easier to remove the fat from the broth if you refrigerate the broth overnight. I used boneless short ribs, but if it's easier for you to find bone-in, use the flanken cut and you'll need 4 pounds to yield enough meat and you won't need the oxtail. If you roasted vegetables and prepare the red chile base while the short ribs are braising, all you need to do the next day is to finish the soup.
Caldo “Mole de Olla”:
Generously salt all sides of the short ribs and oxtail. Set a stovetop-rated slow cooker liner over high heat. (If your slow cooker liner isn’t made from a material that can be used on a stovetop, use a very large (12-inch) non-stick skillet.) Measure in 1 tablespoon of the oil. Once the pan is very hot, saute the meat in batches. about 8 minutes per batch, or until well browned on all sides. Remove the last of the meat from the slow cooker (skillet) and scoop in the onion. Saute the onions until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Transfer the meat to the slow cooker. Add 6 cups water, the smashed garlic cloves, and the Worcestershire sauce. Place the lid on top and set the slow cooker on high and the timer for 6 hours.
Red Chile Base:
Toast the chiles a few pieces at a time on a dry 10-inch skillet over medium, pressing them flat against the hot surface for about 10 seconds with a metal spatula until they are aromatic and have lightened in color a little on the inside; flip and toast the other side. At the same time, roast the unpeeled garlic cloves until soft and blotchy brown in spots (about 15 minutes). Once you have finished toasting all the chile pieces, place them in a bowl, cover with hot water, weight with a plate to keep them submerged and let rehydrate 30 minutes. Drain and discarding the water. Set the bowl aside.
Transfer to a blender or food processor along with the peeled garlic and 3/4 cup water. Process to a smooth puree. Press this chile mixture through a medium mesh strainer into the chile soaking bowl and season with 1 teaspoon salt and 3/4 teaspoon sugar.
In a large (3 quart) pot, heat 1 1/2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. When quite hot, scrape in the chile puree and stir nearly constantly until the mixture has darkened considerably and thickened to the consistency of tomato paste, about 5 minutes. Once cooled, transfer to a resealable container and place in the refrigerator .
Roast the Vegetables:
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Toss the potatoes and zucchini in a large bowl with the remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Spread on a lined rimmed baking sheet. Roast for 45 to 50 minutes, stirring halfway through, until golden brown. Let cool, wrap and place in the refrigerator until you’re ready to finish the soup.
Finish the Caldo:
After 6 hours, transfer the meat to a cutting board. Once cool enough to handle, shred the meat, discarding the fat and bone. Pour off the cooking liquid into a large bowl. Let cool , then cover and refrigerate. Once the fat has solidified on the top, skim it off. In a large stock pot, pour in the cooking liquid along with 4 cups of chicken broth. Scoop in the meat and the red chile base. Set the pot over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Scoop in the roasted potatoes, zucchini and epazote. Once everything is hot, serve individual bowls of the caldo, sprinkle on cilantro, arugula, and diced white onion. Pass around wedges of lime for your guests.
Jill's Wine Recommendations:
For a white I would try the 2005 Domaine Des Baumard “Clos du Papillon” Savennières from the Loire Valley in France. This area is known for producing amazing Chenin Blanc. The Baumard has a rich, round, mouth feel which will be a great match texturally with the soup while still providing enough freshness.
If you prefer red wine, try the 2007 La Spinetta “Cà Di Pian” Barbera D’Asti from Piedmont, Italy. This is a juicy, fruit forward style of Barbera which will work well with the bright red flavor of the guajillo and ancho chiles, yet stand up to the rich beefy flavor of the caldo.