Grill-Braised Short Ribs with Arbol Chiles, White Beans, Mushrooms and Beer
Costillas de Res Guisadas con Chile de Arbol, Alubias, Hongos y Cerveza
Recipe from "Fiesta at Rick's"
Here’s a tasty intersection of modern and traditional. The rich, smokiness of grill-braised beef short ribs with roasted tomatoes, a little hot chile, woodland mushrooms, white beans, hoppy beer—all the ingredients that make our eyes light up these days, ingredients that have been staples in Mexican kitchens for ages. Even grill-braising sounds modern, though, to be truthful, the basic technique of cooking a pot of something over embers in a closed environment (an accurate description of the pit cooking used for barbacoa) dates back millennia in Mexico. In a nutshell, this dish is a great way to thoroughly satisfy both traditionalists and trend-seekers at the same table.
4 pounds (8 good-size pieces) bone-in beef short ribs
8 dried arbol chiles
2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
Salt and black pepper, preferably freshly ground
1 large white onion, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
8 ounces full-flavored mushrooms (think wild ones here, or maybe shiitakes), stemmed and quartered
2 cups full-flavored beer (I like Bohemia)
2 cups beef broth
1 head of garlic, cut in half across the center
3 sprigs fresh thyme
One 15-ounce can diced tomatoes in juice (preferably fire-roasted)
4 cups cooked white beans (homemade or canned—you’ll need 3 15-ounce cans), drained
Sear the meat. Turn on a gas grill to medium-high or light a charcoal grill and let the coals burn until quite hot and covered with white ash.
Generously sprinkle the meat on all sides with salt and pepper. Lay the short ribs on the grill and sear on all sides, until richly browned, 4 or 5 minutes total depending on the heat of your fire. Remove to a rimmed baking sheet.
Flavor the short ribs. Break the stems off the chiles, then roll them between your fingers to loosen the seeds. Break the chiles in half and shake out all the seeds that come free easily. Set a large (7- to 8-quart) Dutch oven over medium-high heat. When the pot is hot, pour in the oil. Add the chiles and stir for 10 to 15 seconds, until they are noticeably darker and aromatic. Remove to a small plate, draining as much oil as possible back into the pan.
Add the onion to the pan and cook, stirring regularly, until golden, about 7 minutes, then stir in the mushrooms and cook another couple of minutes. Add the beer, broth, garlic, thyme, tomatoes, beans, toasted chiles, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt and a generous 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Return the short ribs (and any juices that have collected around them) to the pan, nestling them into the liquid.
Grill-braise the shortribs. Either turn the grill burner(s) in the center to medium-low or bank the coals to the sides for indirect cooking. Set the pot in the center of the grill and cook until the shortribs are fork-tender, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. As necessary add additional charcoal to keep the fire medium hot.
Serve. Carefully remove the short ribs to a deep serving platter. Discard the garlic and thyme sprigs from the braising liquid. Using a slotted spoon, spoon the beans and mushrooms around the short ribs. If a lot of fat has rendered from the short ribs, ladle it from the top of the sauce. Taste the sauce and season with additional salt if you think necessary, then ladle it over the ribs and beans. You’re ready to serve.
Oven Alternative: This dish can be made very successfully in the oven. In the Dutch oven in a little oil, brown the meat, then braise everything together, covered, for about 2 1/2 hours at 325 degrees.
Working Ahead: The whole dish can be made a day or so ahead, cooled, covered and refrigerated. When making the dish ahead, I like to remove the meat to a separate container to ensure that its juices don’t overwhelm the other flavors of the dish. Reheat, covered with foil, in a 350 degree oven for 30 to 45 minutes.