Not all tacos are created equal. These Guajillo-Braised Beef Short Rib Tacos are the crème de la crème of beef tacos. If you want a spicy and sophisticated taco filling, look no further than these slow-cooked, braised short rib tacos!
A taco is perhaps the most delicious blank canvas. Start with a soft corn tortilla gently heated in a skillet. It becomes more pliable with an enhanced corn flavor. You can easily opt for a flour tortilla, or a crunchy shell!
Then you have your filling which can range from vegetables, beans, scrambled eggs, any type of meat or even seafood. Inspiration for a taco filling can come from almost anywhere.
Last but not least, you finish off the taco with toppings. These can include a myriad of salsas, guacamole, sour cream, chopped onion, cilantro, cheese, and more. When all of these flavors are wrapped up together into a single bite, it truly feels like magic.
How to make short rib tacos
These Guajillo-braised short rib tacos are outstanding. The flavors are complex and fairly spicy, while the texture is unctuous and melt-in-your-mouth tender! They are time-consuming in the sense that they cook for several hours.
With that said, they are quite easy to prepare. The first step is to to lightly toast your stemmed and seeded dried chiles. You'll need a combination of guajillo chiles and dried chipotles.
Next, in batches sear off your short ribs in a Dutch oven or heavy pot until they have a nice crust on the outside. Remove the short ribs from the pot and set them aside.
To the same pot add chopped onions, cook until softened, and then add garlic. Cook for a couple more minutes before deglazing the pot with a bottle of Negro Modelo beer and the toasted chiles.
When the chiles soften, transfer the content to the jar of a blender and add ground cumin, dried oregano, salt and pepper, and some water. Puree the mixture on high speed until smooth. It should be the consistency of heavy cream.
In the same Dutch oven add the seared short ribs and top with the bright-orange chile sauce you just blended up. Cover the pot and transfer it to the oven for 3 to 4 hours, or until the beef short ribs are fork-tender. Make sure you poke it a few times to make sure it easily pulls apart with the simple flick of your fork.
Remove the braised short ribs from the oven and use 2 forks or a set of tongs to shred the meat. I'm supremely neurotic when shredding my short ribs. I typically remove every speck of gooey fat because I seriously hate that texture.
I don't want anything distracting me from enjoying these perfectly braised short rib tacos. It's worth the extra effort in my opinion rather than just hastily shredding away. You owe it to yourself after waiting hours for them to finish cooking.
Make taco night a special occasion!
You can prepare this filling weeks in advance! It freezes, thaws, and reheats beautifully, making this a wonderful idea for a make ahead party dish or even a weeknight meal. Did someone say "Taco Tuesday?" Oh yeah, that was me.
These braised short ribs are seriously epic in terms of taco fillings. I can't stress enough how amazingly delicious they are! Like I said earlier, they are on the spicy side. I recommend you serve them with sour cream to cool them down, chopped onion for crunch, as well as a slightly mild homemade salsa verde.
To make an easy salsa verde: boil about 1 pound tomatillos (husks removed and washed) with about ½ a large roughly chopped peeled onion, a couple peeled garlic cloves, and 2 stemmed, halved and seeded jalapenos. Normally I leave the jalapenos whole with the seeds in there, but this yields a pretty spicy salsa.
You can easily cut a bit of the spice by removing the seeds. When the tomatillos soften and become a more muted green color (kind of a puke green for lack of a better description), drain the mixture and puree in a blender with salt and either ground coriander or fresh cilantro.
This simple salsa verde received rave reviews all night, with threats to drink the remainder straight from the jar.
If you manage to have leftovers of this filling (hint: you won't!), it would be extraordinary on top of nachos as well. I can't think of a better way to wrangle your friends to celebrate all the occasions worth celebrating!
More taco recipes you may like
- Achiote-Rubbed Grilled Chicken Tacos
- Shot-and-a-Beer Braised Chicken Tacos
- Sweet Potato Tacos
- Grilled Fish Tacos
Have you ever tried a low-and-slow braised taco filling? Leave me a note in the comments, and please rate this recipe if you've tried it. Thank you!
Guajillo-Braised Beef Short Rib Tacos
- 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 see notes
- 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
- 1 ½ tablespoons dried Mexican oregano
- 1 ½ tablespoons kosher salt
- ½ cup water
- 16 corn tortillas warmed, for serving
- Chopped white onion, chopped fresh cilantro, salsa of choice, and lime wedges, for serving
- 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.
- 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.
- Add the onion to the same 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- This recipe uses kosher salt (aka cooking salt, kitchen salt, coarse salt outside of the US). If you are using table salt, definitely scale down the salt as that is a saltier type of salt! The type of salt will make a big difference in how salty your food tastes, so keep that in mind.
*All nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary with brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes and more.*