Braised Short Rib Chalupas
Don’t be intimidated by the long list of ingredients or the number of steps for these chalupas, which are a specialty at the Los Angeles bar and restaurant Bar Amá, which pairs inventive Tex-Mex cuisine with craft cocktails. You’ll likely find that many of the ingredients are already in your pantry, and both the short ribs and the borracho beans can be prepared up to 2 days in advance and rewarmed right before assembling the chalupas, making this a great dish to serve at a party. Better yet, set out the ingredients and allow your guests to assemble their own chalupas for a fun fiesta that requires minimal last-minute prep work.
For the short ribs:
- 5 lb. (2.5 kg) beef short ribs
- Kosher salt, to taste
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 5 Tbs. canola oil
- 3 yellow onions, diced
- 2 carrots, diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 5 garlic cloves, lightly crushed
- 1 fresh thyme sprig
- 1 fresh rosemary sprig
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cups (16 fl. oz./500 ml) dry red wine
- 6 cups (48 fl. oz./1.5 l) beef stock
For the borracho beans:
- 1 lb. (500 g) dried pinto beans, soaked in water overnight
- 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup (2 1/2 oz./75 g) finely diced poblano chile
- 1/2 cup (2 1/2 oz./75 g) finely diced carrot
- 1/2 cup (2 1/2 oz./75 g) finely diced celery
- 2 Tbs. minced garlic
- 1 Tbs. minced fresh rosemary
- 1 Tbs. minced fresh thyme
- 1 Tbs. minced fresh oregano
- 1 Tbs. ground coriander
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- 2 bottles (12 oz./375 ml each) beer, preferably a light and crisp variety
- 2 cups (16 fl. oz./500 ml) vegetable stock
- 1 cup (8 oz./250 g) crushed canned tomatoes
- 3 Tbs. brown sugar
- 3 Tbs. pureed chipotles in adobo sauce
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
For the chile-vinegar salsa:
- 1/2 cup (4 fl. oz. / 125 ml.) white vinegar
- 1 1/2 tsp. ancho chile powder
- 1 1/2 tsp. chipotle chile powder
- 1 1/2 tsp. chile de arbol powder or cayenne pepper
- 1 1/2 tsp. guajillo chile powder
- 1 1/2 tsp. grated onion
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 4 cups (12 oz./375 g) shredded green cabbage
- 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) olive oil, or more, to taste
- 1/4 cup (2 fl. oz./60 ml) fresh lime juice, or more, to taste
- 1/2 kosher salt, or more, to taste
- Canola oil for frying
- 16 corn tortillas
- 2 cups (12 oz./375 g) Bar Ama Guacamole
- 1 cup (3 oz./90 g) crumbled cotija cheese
To braise the short ribs:
Preheat an oven to 325°F (165°C).
Season the short ribs generously with salt and pepper. In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm 3 Tbs. of the oil until nearly smoking. Working in batches to avoid crowding, brown the ribs on all sides, about 5 minutes per batch. Transfer the ribs to a platter and set aside.
Add the remaining 2 Tbs. oil to the pot, reduce the heat to medium and add the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, thyme, rosemary and bay leaf. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the wine and cook until the liquid is reduced by half, about 4 minutes.
Return the ribs to the pot and add the stock. The stock should come about three-quarters of the way up the ribs. If it doesn’t, add water as needed. Cover and transfer to the oven. Cook until the ribs are very tender, 3 to 3 1/2 hours.
While the meat is braising, begin preparing the borracho beans (see below).
When the short ribs are tender, remove from the oven and remove the ribs from the pot. When the ribs are cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones, shred into bite-size pieces and season to taste with salt and pepper. Discard the bones and the braising liquid.
To make the borracho beans:
About an hour after you put the ribs in the oven, drain the pinto beans.
In a heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, warm the vegetable oil. Add the poblano chile, carrot and celery and sauté until the vegetables are softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the garlic, rosemary, thyme, oregano, coriander and cinnamon and cook, stirring, until the garlic is slightly softened, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the drained beans, beer, vegetable stock, tomatoes, brown sugar, chipotle puree and a large pinch each of salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the beans are tender, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Taste and adjust the seasoning with more salt and pepper if necessary.
To make the chile-vinegar salsa:
While the beans are cooking, in a small bowl, stir together the vinegar, chile powders, onion and salt. Set aside.
To assemble the chalupas:
In a large bowl, toss the cabbage with the olive oil, lime juice and salt. Taste and add more olive oil, lime juice or salt if desired. Set aside.
In a deep, heavy fry pan over medium-high heat, pour in oil to a depth of 1 inch (2.5 cm) and heat to 375°F (190°C) on a deep-frying thermometer. Line a baking sheet with paper towels.
Working in batches, fry the tortillas, turning them once, until they are crisp and lightly browned, 1 to 2 minutes. As they are done, transfer the tortillas to the prepared baking sheet to drain.
Place a tortilla on a plate and spread 2 Tbs. of the borracho beans on top. Top the beans with 2 Tbs. of the guacamole and then 1/4 cup of the shredded short ribs. Spread 1/4 cup of the cabbage mixture on top of the chalupa and sprinkle with 2 Tbs. of the cotija cheese. Drizzle with the chile-vinegar salsa.
Repeat with the remaining ingredients to assemble 16 chalupas, or allow guests to assemble their own chalupas. Serves 8.
Bar Amá, Los Angeles, CA