I developed this Mexican-inspired braise about two years ago using a chuck roast. When done, I shredded the meat and wrapped it in tortillas. It was delicious but I thought I could tweak it further and hit on the idea of adding some orange peel and some cocoa powder. However, I didn't have another chuck roast but I did have some short ribs so I used them. Much better than the chuck because the bones contribute to the sauce. You can still shred the meat and stuff it in tortillas, but I prefer serving them on polenta. Make this a day in advance if you can. The flavors deepen and it's easier to get rid of the excess fat after sitting in the fridge. - Kevin —Kevin
Test Kitchen Notes
If it's cold and sleeting outside and one of you is longing for comfort food while the other is hoping to forget that it's winter with something spicy and south-of-the-border, then look no further than these ribs. The tender, falling apart meat is suffused with smokey and zesty flavors from the clever Mexican-style braise, and gives it a subtle warmth. With corn tortillas, a big squirt of lime and a sprinkling of cilantro, the ribs are almost fiesta worthy. Then all you have to do to switch it up is nestle them on a bed of creamy polenta and suddenly you'll have a hearty, sit by the fire and watch the snowflakes fall supper. —fiveandspice
Season the ribs with salt and pepper and heat oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Brown ribs brown on all sides in batches of three. Set ribs aside.
Reduce heat to medium and sauté onions and peppers until translucent using additional oil if needed. Add garlic and cook 1 minute longer. Increase heat to medium-high, add beef stock and deglaze pan by scraping up browned bits.
Stir in tomato sauce and then stir in remaining ingredients. Return ribs to pot and bring to a vigorous simmer.
Cover pot and place in center of oven. Cook 1 hour, taste sauce and adjust seasonings. Turn ribs over roast and cook 1 hour longer. Turn and cook 1/2 hour more.
At this point you can serve the ribs, but I prefer to refrigerate the pot overnight, then peel off the fat the next day and gently rewarm on the stove top.