2000s Recipes + Menus

Short Ribs Braised in Coffee Ancho Chile Sauce

  • Active time:40 min
  • Start to finish:4 1/2 hr
Bones are what you want on Halloween night, and your best bet for plenty of them—along with generous amounts of succulent meat—is beef short ribs. Slowly braised to tenderness with a mixture of fruity anchos and fiery chipotles tempered with coffee (a flavor combination we learned from chef Robert Del Grande of RDG + Bar Annie in Houston), the resulting pan sauce is as dark and haunting as the night.
  • 4 dried ancho chiles, stems, seeds, and ribs discarded
  • 2 cups boiling-hot water
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo plus 2 tsp adobo sauce
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 6 lb beef short ribs or flanken
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup brewed coffee
  • Preheat oven to 350°F with rack in middle.
  • Wipe anchos clean and soak in boiling-hot water until softened, about 20 minutes, then drain in a colander set over a bowl. Taste soaking liquid: It will be a little bitter, but if unpleasantly so, discard it; otherwise, reserve for braising. Transfer anchos to a blender with onion, garlic, chipotles with sauce, maple syrup, lime juice, and 1 tsp salt and purée until smooth.
  • Pat ribs dry and season with 2 tsp salt and 1 tsp pepper. Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then brown ribs in 3 batches, turning occasionally, about 5 minutes total per batch. Transfer as browned to a roasting pan just large enough to hold ribs in 1 layer.
  • Carefully add chile purée to fat in skillet (it will spatter and steam) and cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, 5 minutes. Add reserved chile soaking liquid (or 1 1/2 cups water) and coffee and bring to a boil, then pour over ribs (liquid should come about halfway up sides of meat).
  • Cover roasting pan tightly with foil and braise ribs in oven until very tender, 3 to 3 1/2 hours. Skim fat from pan juices and serve with ribs.
Cooks’ note:
  • Ribs improve in flavor if braised 2 days ahead. Cool, uncovered, then chill, surface covered with parchment or wax paper and roasting pan covered with foil. Remove any solidified fat before reheating.
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