Saturday, February 2, 2013

Short Rib Chili Nachos

I hit the gym five days a week and upon my arrival, I am usually greeted by Tim Blackstone, also known in our tight little circle as "The Barnyard Dog". Tim is both a CrossFit and Brazilian Ju Jitsu instructor and an all-round athlete of some renown. Tim is also my video game partner and we have slain thousand of opponents in the countless hours we have logged in the many iterations of Call of Duty.

When I arrive at the gym and see Tim, I know that he is going to shred my ego with some brilliant, caustic and amazingly witty greeting. Tim never disappoints and acknowledges my arrival with the always clever "eat me". Having spent several hours planning and strategizing my equally brilliant retort, I respond to Tim "I want a meal. Not a snack." We both find this so incredibly amusing that we spend the next ten minutes man-hugging, fist-bumping and exchanging our secret Xbox 360 thumbshake.

If you have not finalized your meal plans for the Super Bowl, I have a recipe for you. This recipe is perfect for a crowd, because "It's a meal. Not a snack". It lets you take that ordinary snack, nachos, and with the addition of some "sent by the gods" short ribs, turn them into an extraordinary meal. This recipe is every bit as brilliant as one of  The Barnyard Dog's scintillating greetings.

This recipe was created by Melissa Clark and she shared it with the world in The New York Times last week. While it takes a little time, the results are worth it. So gather up 8 to 12 of your best friends for the big game and give them a meal...not a snack. (Cue Timmy for the fist-bump)

 4 pounds bone-in beef short ribs, patted dry
5 teaspoons coarse kosher salt, more to taste
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
5 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
2 jalapeño or serrano peppers, halved lengthwise, seeded if desired
1 onion, peeled and quartered lengthwise
1 (28-ounce) can chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup coarsely chopped cilantro stems, and 1/4 cup chopped leaves
2 teaspoons dried oregano
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 to 2 tablespoons chile powder, to taste
2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 (12-ounce) bottle Mexican lager, like Negra Modelo
1 (13-ounce) package corn tortilla chips
8 ounces white Cheddar cheese, grated (2 cups)
4 avocados, peeled, pitted and diced
Juice of 1 lime
1 1/2 cups store-bought fresh salsa, preferably salsa verde
1 cup Mexican crema or sour cream
Hot sauce, optional   

  1. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Season short ribs with 3 teaspoons salt and the black pepper. Let rest while you prepare sauce. 
  2. Place a large, dry Dutch oven over high heat. Add garlic, peppers and onion to the dry pan. Cook, turning occasionally, until lightly charred all over, about 10 minutes. 
  3. Transfer garlic, peppers and onion to a blender. Add tomatoes with juice, cilantro stems, oregano and 1 teaspoon salt. Purée until smooth. 
  4. Return Dutch oven to medium-high heat. Add olive oil. Sear short ribs in batches, until well-browned all over, about 20 minutes. Transfer browned ribs to a bowl.
  5. Stir chile powder, cumin and coriander into pot and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomato paste and cook until it begins to caramelize, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in tomato-pepper purée and beer and bring to a simmer. Return short ribs to pot, cover and transfer to oven. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, then uncover pot, give meat a stir, and continue baking until ribs are fork tender and falling off bone, 30 to 45 minutes longer, for a total cooking time of 2 to 2 1/4 hours. 
  6. Once ribs are cool enough to handle, remove from pot, reserving sauce. Shred meat and discard bones and gristle. If sauce seems thin, simmer on stove until it thickens enough to coat a wooden spoon. Return meat to pot.
  7. Heat broiler. Spread tortilla chips on a rimmed baking sheet. Top evenly with meat and sauce. Sprinkle cheese over the top. Broil until hot and cheese is melted, 1 to 2 minutes. 
  8. In a small bowl, mash together avocados, lime juice and 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste. 
  9. Dollop avocado, salsa and sour cream over hot nachos and drizzle with hot sauce if desired. Scatter the chopped cilantro leaves over top.

Pairing: Ice cold beer (El Pacifico recommended)

The Barnyard Dog

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