Sunday, January 12, 2014

Tequila-Braised Short Rib Enchiladas

So you guys.  These enchiladas.  Oh my.  They are something special.  These chicken enchiladas are by far the most popular recipe on my site.  And I'm not trying to be sensationalist or be "the girl who cried enchiladas," but dare I say the short rib version is even better?  We loooooved them, and the twins both absolutely devoured the short rib meat we gave them (spoiled little foodie babies).

As Joey and I were discussing our plans for New Year's Eve, I gave him a few ideas for dinner - various appetizers, braised short ribs, or enchiladas.  As we so often do, we decided on Mexican food, but I couldn't get short ribs out of my head.  So I did what any Mexican food-obsessed person would do, and combined the two ideas.

I turned to my usual chicken enchilada recipe, and adapted it to short ribs.  After a quick sear on the stove top, I braised them in a mixture of tequila and tomato sauce, all seasoned with my favorite enchilada sauce ingredients - plenty of chile powder, cumin, jalapeños, etc.  After a few hours in the oven, I not only had perfectly tender short ribs, but an intensely flavored and perfect enchilada sauce - once I spiked it with a little more tequila, that is.

Assembly was quick and painless, and the result was totally fantastic.  These enchiladas obviously require a lot of time, but much of it is hands off, and it's the perfect project for a cold and rainy day at home.  Cook for a while, go play or relax for a while.  And you'll be handsomely rewarded with these awesome enchiladas.  The meat is fall-apart tender, there's just enough tequila and spice to keep them interested, and the bits of meat that are right inside each enchilada get kind of crispy - almost like carnitas.  But better.  Because it's short ribs.  And there's tequila.

We ended up having a low-key evening at home, snacking on black bean and corn dip, drinking margaritas, eating enchiladas, and coloring Sesame Street characters with Smith and Caroline.  It was the perfect end to a pretty wild and wonderful year, and I wouldn't have had it any other way.

Tequila-Braised Short Rib Enchiladas
inspired by these Chicken Enchiladas

Take care to skim off as much fat from the sauce as you can, as it will cause the enchiladas to be pretty greasy otherwise.

  • 1 Tbs vegetable oil
  • 2 1/2 - 3 lbs beef short ribs (bone-in)
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large onions, finely diced
  • 2-3 jalapeños, seeds and ribs removed, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup chile powder
  • 1 Tbs ground cumin
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 cup tequila, divided
  • 1 (15-oz) can tomato sauce
  • 1/3 cup minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, divided
  • 1 cup Pepperjack cheese, divided
  • 12-15 corn tortillas
  • 1/2 cup water (optional)
  • chopped cilantro and/or scallions, for serving
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.  

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large pot or Dutch oven.  Season both sides of the short ribs liberally with salt and pepper.  Working in batches (only sear as many as can fit in a single layer in the pot at a time), cook the short ribs 2-3 minutes on each side, or until they are browned.  Remove to a clean plate and repeat with the remaining short ribs.

Pour off all but about 2 tablespoons of the oil, reduce the heat to medium-low, and add the onions and jalapeños with 1/4 teaspoon of salt to the pot, stirring well.  Cover and cook until they are softened but not browned, 5-8 minutes.  Add the garlic, chile powder, cumin, and sugar, and cook about 1 minute, or until the mixture is fragrant.

Pour in 2/3 cup of the tequila, and scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to scrape up any browned bits.  Stir in the tomato sauce, then nestle the short ribs (and any juices that are on the plate) into the sauce.  Remove from heat, cover, and transfer to the oven.

Cook the short ribs 2 1/2 - 3 hours, or until they are very tender and falling off the bone.  Remove the meat from the sauce, and transfer them to a plate too cool.  

As the meat cools, pour the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer into a medium bowl.  Press down on any solids to extract as much liquid as possible.  Allow to cool slightly, then use a large spoon to skim as much fat off the top as possible.  Stir in the remaining 1/3 cup of tequila, and if the sauce seems too thick (if it's the same consistence as spaghetti sauce, it's just a little too thick), thin it with up to 1/2 cup of water.

Shred the meat into bite-sized pieces using 2 forks (or clean hands), discarding the bones and visible fat.

Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees, and lightly grease a 9x13 inch baking dish.  

In a large bowl, toss the meat with the cilantro, 1/2 cup of the cheddar, 1/2 cup of the pepperjack, and 1/2 cup of the sauce.  Toss well to combine and season with additional salt and pepper to taste.

Stack the tortillas on a microwave-safe plate and cover with a damp paper towel.  Microwave about 1 minute, or until the tortillas are soft and pliable.  

To assemble the enchiladas, add a scant 1/3 cup of the filling onto each tortilla, and roll tightly.  Arrange the enchiladas in a single layer in the prepared baking dish, seam side-down.  Repeat with the remaining tortillas and filling.  

Lightly brush the tops of the enchiladas with vegetable oil, and bake 7 minutes, or until the tortillas begin to brown.  Remove from the oven, reduce the heat to 400 degrees, and pour the remaining enchilada sauce over the top.  Sprinkle with the remaining cheese, cover the dish with foil, and return to the oven.

Bake 20 minutes, remove the foil, and bake a final 5 minutes.  Sprinkle with cilantro and/or chopped scallions before serving.


Josie said...

I love the way you think. And how you combined your two cravings into one! The best of all worlds, for sure.

Josie said...

I have a ton of short ribs I have in the freezer that I scored from the local restaurant warehouse for cheap, these are happening. Can't even fathom how tender and delicious they are, and I loooove the addition of tequila. Yum!

Josie said...

This dish looks so cool and amazing. I feel very like the taste of it. Really impressive. Thanks for sharing

Josie said...

Holy crap, Josie. These look so amazing! My mouth is watering just thinking about them. I've never made short-ribs before, so I think this might be the recipe I need to convince me.

Josie said...

Oh my goodness. Josie, you have completely outdone yourself with this one. I cannot wait to make these very, very soon. What a great idea!

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