Without a doubt, my favorite dish when it gets chilly out! The lime in the rib sauce is a wonderful foil against the rich beef ribs and the hearty cheesy polenta!
Difficulty: Intermediate Preparation Time: 1hr 30min
Yields: 4 Servings Total Time: 3hr 30min
FOR THE DRY RUB
1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
2 Tablespoons Freshly Ground Black Pepper
3 Tablespoons Ancho Chile Powder
1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin
1 Tablespoon Ground Coriander
FOR THE RIBS & SAUCE
8, 3"-4" long beef short ribs
8 Garlic Cloves, Finely Chopped
1 Large Onion, 1/2" dice
2 Cups Low Sodium Chicken Stock
3 Tablespoons Canola Oil, divided
14oz Can, Diced Tomatoes
2 Tablespoons Chipotle Puree*
3 - 4 Limes
1 Bundle of Fresh Cilantro, chopped
2 Tablespoons Reserved Dry Rub
1 Recipe for Cheesy Polenta
FOR THE DRY RUB
Mix all of the dry rub ingredients in a small mixing bowl. Liberally dust the ribs with the rub, shaking off any excess over the bowl with the rub in it. Place dry rubbed ribs on a plate and let sit at room temperature for an hour. Reserve 2 Tablespoon of the dry rub for the sauce and discard the remaining rub.
FOR THE RIBS & THE SAUCE
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large ovenproof dutch oven over medium high heat. Place 4 of the ribs, bone side up, in the pot and brown on all sides-about 6-8 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Using a pair of tongs and some paper towel-wipe down the pan to remove any burnt dry rub and oil. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil to the pot, wait for the oil to come up to temperature and repeat searing/browning procedure for the remaining ribs. Wipe down the pot again and last tablespoon of oil. Once the oil is hot, add the dry rub and cook, stirring often, until fragrant, about 1-2 minutes. This procedure is called “blooming” and it really helps develop the flavors of the spices. Add the onion and the garlic to the bloomed spices and sauté until the onion has softened and the garlic has become fragrant-about 5 minutes. Increase heat to high. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil, making sure to scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. (These caramelized bits are called sucs or fond, and when incorporated into the sauce they really help develop the flavors of the dish! When we add the stock to the pot and scrape its called deglazing). Add the tomatoes and the pureed chipotle, stir to incorporate. Return the ribs to the pot, bone side up. Bring to a boil, cover and braise in the oven until the ribs are tender and just about to fall off the bone, about 1 ½ to 2 hours. Braising is a moist cooking method that allows us to gently cook tough cuts of protein, making them very tender and delicious.
Remove the pot from the oven. Remove the ribs from the pot to a platter. Bring the sauce up to a boil on the cooktop and with a ladle remove as much of the fat as possible from the sauce. The fat will have a tendency under boil to pool in the center of the pot, making it very easy to remove the fat. We are looking to remove as much fat as possible, as too much fat in the sauce will leave a weird texture in your mouth when eating it. Reduce the sauce by 1/3, stirring frequently, about 10-15 minutes. Add a couple of generous pinches of salt and the juice from 2 of the limes to the sauce. Taste and adjust the seasoning of the sauce with salt and lime if needed. Don’t be shy with the lime or the salt here, as the sauce needs to be aggressively seasoned to bring out its full flavor! Lower the heat to low and stir in a ½ cup of the chopped cilantro. Add the ribs back to the pot and cook until the ribs are heated through, about 4-5 minutes.
Spoon about a cup of the cheesy polenta into the bottom of a medium serving bowl and top with 2 of the short ribs, a ladle full of the sauce and a small sprinkling of the chopped cilantro for garnish.
You can start the polenta about the time that you start reducing the sauce. When the polenta is finished, lower the heat to low and cover, stir well before serving.
*Pureed chipotle can be made by taking a small can of canned chipotles in adobo and blending them with a tablespoon of water until smooth. Transfer to a small container and cover. Will keep for 2-3 weeks in the fridge.
**Canned chipotles can be found in the Latin or Mexican aisle in the local supermarket.