Sunday, October 4, 2009

Braised Short Rib Tacos

Even though I'm Italian, I've developed a serious taste for Latin and Mexican food. My family hails from Calabria, and the proximity to Sicily must play some sort of role in my affinity for spice. Regardless, a recent hankering for something spicy and unique compelled me to try something new and an opportunity from Marx Foods all but sealed the deal.

Marx Foods is an online fine foods supplier and I found out through this whole blog scene that they would send me free product to try out. Needless to say, I signed myself up. A few weeks ago I received a nice selection of dried, mild chilies. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do, but I do know that I really like to braise, and I really like to make serious tacos. After a few moments of thought I decided I was going to reconstitute the chilies and incorporate them into a braising liquid. All I needed to do was pour some boiling water over the chilies, fully submerge and wait 20 minutes for them to rehydrate.

I took the reconstituted chillies, sliced them up, and put them in a blender with three peeled heirloom tomatoes, a bit of the chili water and some fresh lime juice. Blend until relatively smooth and you've got some serious pizazz for your braising liquid.

I dusted the ribs with cumin, ancho chili powder, Mexican oregano and browned them in oil. I removed them after a few minutes on each side over medium heat, and added in a chopped onion and some minced garlic to the pot. Once the onion was soft I added in 2 cups of chicken stock to deglaze the pan and added the tomato-chili concoction as I scraped up the browned bits. Within seconds my kitchen smelled like it meant business. The aroma of the chilies along with the "Mexican herb dust" I coated the short ribs in was amazing. Once everything was boiling I put the ribs back in the pot, covered it and put it in a 350 degree oven for an hour and a half. Another 25 minutes uncovered on the stove top over medium heat was all I needed to yield some tender shredded beef and a thick and robust sauce.

The Guajillo and Aji Panca chiles that I added to the liquid created a depth of flavor that had really nice earth tones and a smooth heat that peaked right before the brink of being overtly spicy. I picked up a little bit of chocolate, plum and all spice in the sauce and I can easily say that these were the best tacos I've ever made. The beauty of it all was that despite the serious flavor, I still managed to pick up the flavorful beef as well. In addition to some good shredded beef, it's tough to beat authentic corn tortillas, fresh Pico de Gallo, cilantro and some sliced avocado to round everything out.

If you're looking for a solid gourmet retailer that can find some rare ingredients I recommend you check out Marx Foods as I'll definitely continue to explore their assortment of rare and exceptional goodies.

Happy Eating,



kat said...

Sounds like how Matt makes the fillings for a tamales. The smell is always so mazing

HungryinSW said...

I need to get a handle on how to make tamales. I'll get brave one day and site your recipe!

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