My Favorite Slow Cooked Mexican Short Rib Tacos & Spicy Margarita Recipe – Cooking Around the World

Alright guys, as you know I’ve been eating and drinking around the world in quarantine with my Cooking Around the World blog series I started last week. I asked y’all where we should ‘travel’ to next and there was a resounding response and love for Mexico, and a great Taco Tuesday recipe  – especially with Cinco De Mayo coming up right around the corner! So here is my all-time favorite Mexican dinner,  and all the steps to make it.

Christina’s Slow Cooked Barbacoa Braised Short Rib Tacos with A Spicy Habanero Margarita Recipe 

I made these tender, slow cooked short rib tacos this week and they were TO DIE FOR.  Juicy, flavorful, and the perfect amount of spicy. Tender, braised beef falling off the bone is the star of these Mexican short rib tacos but the toppings MAKE the taco, as well, so don’t skimp!

The best part is this recipe leaves plenty of leftovers for the next day, and the day after that (if you’re cooking for 2 people)- Kenny and I made short rib quesadillas for lunch both days after making this – and they were SO good. 

Barbacoa translates in Spanish to ‘barbecue’ and is typically meat that is slow-cooked over an open fire or, more traditionally in ancient Mexico, in a hole dug in the ground covered with agave leaves. Barbacoa meat is known for its strong flavor, and is often accompanied with onions and cilantro in street tacos in Mexico.

And while Mexican barbacoa is delicious on any meat, the tender, melt-in-your-mouth short rib is what makes these tacos next-level. 

I love the food scene in Mexico today – it’s like simple street food meets contemporary cuisine, all with a nod to Mexico’s rich culture and history. And these tacos are no exception. They’re an elevated take on a streetside classic, and will have you going down in Taco Tuesday hall of fame with your family. I swear my fiance Kenny definitely loves me a little more just because of this taco recipe.

What you need for slow cooked short rib tacos:

Beef Short Ribs (I made 4, it was enough for 3 people, or 2 people with leftovers, if you add more short ribs, add a little more of the onion/spice/chipotle mix)

Beef broth or stock

1 medium white onion

1/2 red onion

Cumin

A slow cooker (OPTIONAL.. you can make these slow cooked all day in the oven too!)

What you need for short rib taco toppings

Goat cheese

Cilantro

Avocado

Pickled red onions (I’ll explain how to pickle your own in <1 hour below – so easy!)

Sour cream (optional, I usually leave out and like to goat cheese creaminess to counteract the spice, instead, but do you!)

What you need for purple crunchy cabbage salad (an optional side, but super good and tastes good in the tacos as well!)

Purple cabbage

Apple cider vinegar

Extra virgin olive oil 

Slow Cooked Barbacoa Short Rib Tacos

Slow Cooked Barbacoa Short Rib Tacos

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 5 hours
Total Time: 5 hours 30 minutes

An elevated take on a Mexican street food classic. Tender, braised beef falling off the bone is the star of these Mexican short rib tacos, but the deliciously fresh toppings and balanced flavors are what make this recipe one you'll want to make every Taco Tuesday.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 pounds | 1.5kg beef short ribs (fat trimmed) this should be about 4 ribs
  • 4 chiptole peppers in adobo sauce, chopped (with the adobo sauce from the can)
  • 1 small white onion , finely chopped (or 2/3 of a medium onion)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup barbecue sauce
  • 1/8 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1/3 cup beef broth / stock
  • Corn tortillas
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves for topping
  • 1-2 avocados, sliced for topping
  • 1/4 cup crumbled goat cheese for topping
  • Sour cream (optional) for topping
  • 1/4 an onion, diced (optional) for topping

Instructions

    Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Trim as much visible fat as possible from each rib (optional but helps lessen the fat content, so I always do). Brown the ribs slightly on both sides (2 minutes each side). Transfer the browned ribs to a slow cooker or dutch oven for oven cooking.

    In a large bowl, combine the chipotles, adobo sauce, onion, garlic, barbecue sauce (I love this one), lime juice, vinegar, bay leaves, cumin, salt, and broth together.

    Whisk well and pour over the ribs in the dutch oven or slow cooker.

    Cover and cook for 5 hours on high or 10 hours on low, until the meat is falling off the bone.

    Allow the ribs to cool slightly in the sauce. If cooking in the oven, cook at 325°F for about 4 hours or until the meat is falling off the bone.

    Remove the ribs from the sauce. Remove any excess fat from the ribs; discard the bones and shred the rib meat. Using a metal spoon, skim any excess fat from the surface of the sauce in the slow cooker and throw away. Mix the sauce into the meat and season with salt to taste.

    Heat 1 tablespoon light tasting olive oil or vegetable oil on a pan on high heat. Place 2 tortillas at a time for about 2 mins per side, or until golden and to your level of crispiness you like, folding the tortillas into taco shells as they cook.

    Spoon the meat and sauce into prepared corn tortillas and serve with chopped fresh cilantro, avocado slices, pickled red onions and goat cheese.

Notes

The more of the adobo sauce you put in, the spicier the tacos will be, I like to do the whole can's sauce but only 4 peppers - but I like them a bit spicy! If you're making more short ribs (this recipe is for 4 short ribs), add more of the adobe peppers and a little more cumin and stock.

To make pickled red onions, you'll need:

Place thinly sliced red onions in a mason jar. In a measuring cup or bowl, combine the apple cider vinegar, salt, sugar, and warm water. Stir to dissolve the sugar and salt. Pour this pickling mixture over your sliced onions, making sure they are immersed, and let them set for an hour at room temp. After an hour, cover and store in the fridge for up to three weeks.

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Crunchy Purple Cabbage Salad

Crunchy Purple Cabbage Salad

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

A delicious side dish for short rib tacos, or any Taco Tuesday meal.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons or more apple cider vinegar
  • ⅓ cup extra-virgin olive oil or avocado oil
  • ¼ teaspoon minced garlic, or more to taste
  • Pinch of Salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 3 or 4 radishes, finely sliced
  • 1 small cabbage, cored and shredded

Instructions

    1. Combine vinegar, oil, garlic, a large pinch of salt in a salad bowl. Beat with a fork until combined into a dressing.

    2. Add the cabbage and any vegetables, sprinkle lightly with more salt and pepper, and toss and serve immediately.

Notes

I like using a mandolin (like this one) to finely slice radishes, carrots, and other veggies

You can do this same salad with any color cabbage, and add other veggies like celery, red onion, etc.

Add feta crumbles to the salad, and avocado for a yummy touch.

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The Best Spicy Margarita Recipe Ever - Habanero Margaritas

The Best Spicy Margarita Recipe Ever - Habanero Margaritas

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes

Sweet and spicy, this fresh-squeezed refreshing favorite is my go-to cocktail for happy hours, Taco Tuesdays, pool days, or anytime I want to spice up my night. This recipe makes 2 margaritas.

Ingredients

  • 5 oz good tequila
  • ½ habanero pepper, plus extra slices for garnish
  • ¼ cup Cointreau
  • ¼ cup simple habanero syrup (see below for how to make)
  • ½ cup fresh lime juice + lime slices for garnish
  • 2 tsp Agave syrup if you like a little extra sweetness

Instructions

If you have time - infuse the tequila in a mason jar or pitcher with a sliced jalapeño, with seeds, or 1/2 sliced habanero, with seeds. Set aside at room temp for 30 minutes (or longer, the longer you let the peppers infuse, the spicier it will be). You can also skip this step.

Make the simple syrup. In a small saucepan, combine equal parts of sugar and boiling water, with 1 chopped habanero. Stir until the sugar has dissolved. 

Make the margaritas by mixing together the tequila, habanero syrup, cointreau and lime juice in a cocktail shaker – I have this cute gold one) with some ice. Shake shake shake. Taste it to check. If you want it spicier, add a little more peppers or a little more of the simple syrup and let it it sit a little longer. If you want it sweeter, add some agave. Pour into chili salt dipped glasses filled with ice and add lime slices and peppers for garnish.

To make the Habanero Simple Syrup

  1. 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  2. 1/2 cup water
  3. 1/2 a habanero pepper, chopped

Directions:

  1. Heat 1/2 cup water over medium heat and bring it to a boil
  2. Add the 1/2 cup of sugar to the boiling water and the chopped habaneros
  3. Stir the syrup about 4 minutes 
  4. Remove the syrup from the heat and allow to cool
  5. Use or store in storage container and refrigerate. This syrup keeps for up to 6 months in the refrigerator!


To make the chili salt for the margarita rims

  1. Combine 1 tablespoon chili powder with 1 teaspoon cayenne powder and 1 tablespoon seasalt, swipe a lime wedge on the rim of a glass and place bottom up in the mixture to coat the rim in the chili salt

To make the margaritas

  1. Squeeze enough limes to make 1/2 cup juice (I usually need 6 or so) - you're definitely going to want a citrus juicer to help with this part.
  2. Add ice to your cocktail shaker. Then add the lime juice, tequila, habanero syrup, and Cointreau to the shaker.
  3. Shake, shake, shake!
  4. Taste to check, add the agave if you like it a bit sweeter.
  5. Pour into chili-salt-rimmed glasses filled with ice, garnish and serve.


Notes

My tequila of choice is usually Casamigos but my all-time favorite tequila is Clase Azul

You have the option to infuse the tequila with habanero or jalapeno peppers beforehand for a little extra kick! Do this by pouring the tequila in a mason jar along with 1 chopped jalapeno pepper (and seeds) or 1 chopped habaneros (and seeds).

You can also add a splash of club soda if you like that in your margs.

Add in pineapple juice or muddled mangos for a delicious twist on this recipe to make pineapple spicy margaritas or mango habanero margaritas!

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Enjoy! Let me know what you think in the comments!

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