RECIPE: Short Rib Barbacoa Tacos by Chef Aarón Sánchez

- Not only is football season off and running, but this weekend marks the beginning of National Hispanic Heritage Month. Chef Aarón Sánchez, a judge on FOX's "Masterchef" culinary series, has partnered with Cacique to celebrate the profound impact Mexican culture and cuisine has had in America.

The chef developed a Short Rib Barbacoa taco recipe with Creamed “Street Corn” and Blistered Padron Peppers using Cacique Queso Fresco, Cotija and Crema Mexicana Agria.

The three remaining home cooks will face their final challenge when they are each asked to prepare a three-course menu for the judges. The home cook with the best overall menu will be crowned the winner.

Watch the top three compete for the first prize of a quarter of a million dollars, and the coveted title of MasterChef in the all-new “Finale Pt. 1/Finale Pt. 2” two-hour season finale episode of "MASTERCHEF" at 10 p.m. on FOX. 



Servings: 6

For the Short Ribs:

6 English style bone-in short ribs (approximately 1.5 lbs. each with bone)
⅓ cup vegetable oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup Aaron’s adobo*
2 white onions, medium dice
2 garlic heads, split horizontally 
2 carrots, peeled, cut ½ inch thick
2 ancho chiles
2 avocado leaves
4 chipotles in adobo, with sauce
3 sprigs fresh thyme
5-6 cups low-sodium beef or chicken stock (store-bought is fine) 
½ cup Cacique Queso Fresco 
½ cup pickled shallots**
Cilantro leaves

For the Corn:

10 ears fresh corn 
2 tablespoons + 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, separated 
3 shallots, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 serrano chiles, seeds removed, minced
½ cup Cacique Crema Mexicana Agria 
½ cup Cacique Cotija
Salt to taste
Juice of 1 lime

For the Padron Peppers:

1 tablespoon olive oil
15-20 padron peppers
Flakey sea salt (Maldon is preferred)
Juice of 1 lime

For the Short Ribs:

Preheat oven to 350 F. 

Heat a large ovenproof pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season the short ribs generously with salt, pepper and Aaron’s adobo on all sides. Add the vegetable oil to the preheated dutch oven and brown the ribs on all sides, working in batches of 2-3 ribs, about 5-6 minutes per batch. Set the ribs aside and add the onions, carrots and garlic to the pot, also browning, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon to prevent the brown bits from scorching. Once a nice color brown has been reached on the vegetables, add the ancho chiles and the avocado leaves to the pot allowing them to toast for about 1 minute.

Add the chipotles in adobo, thyme and about 1 cup of the beef (or chicken) stock. Bring this to a simmer and scrape up all of the brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the short ribs back to the pot and cover with the remaining stock and bring to a simmer. Put a lid on the pot and place in the oven for about 1.5 hours or until the meat is tender (should not be falling completely off the bone).

Remove the short ribs from the oven, allowing to cool to room temperature in the braising liquid to develop more flavor and lock in moisture.

NOTE: this can be done up to 1 day before to allow the ribs to absorb more flavor. Store in refrigerator if making more than 2 hours in advance. 

For the Corn:

Remove the husk and silk from the corn and cut the kernels from the cobb.  Once the kernels are removed scrape each cobb with the backside of the knife to get the remaining milk and pulp from the corn.

Take half of the kernels and place into a blender and puree.  Strain the corn juice thru a fine mesh sieve, set the juice aside and discard the pulp. 

Preheat a large sauté pan or pot over medium heat.  Once hot, add 2 tablespoons butter, shallots, garlic and serrano chilies.  Allow to sweat over medium heat for about 5 minutes or until translucent.  Stir frequently with a wooden spoon to prevent any browning.

Add the whole corn kernels to the pan and sweat for another 4-5 minutes.

Once the corn has cooked, add the reserved corn juice, stir everything together and cook until the juice has reduced by about half and the mixture has thickened.  

Remove the corn from the heat and add the Cacique Cotija, Cacique Crema Mexicana Agria and remaining butter, stirring until melty and incorporated, finish with the lime juice. 

Taste for seasoning and add salt as needed.  Set aside and keep warm.

To Assemble:

When you are ready to serve the dish, remove the short ribs from the cooled liquid, scrape off any vegetables or herbs from the braising process and set the ribs aside.  

In a saucepan over medium-high heat, add 3-4 cups of the strained braising liquid and reduce by about two-thirds, set aside.  

In a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, brown the short ribs on all sides again, until brown, crisp and hot. Do this in batches of 2-3 ribs.  
Once the ribs have browned, add the padron peppers to the pan, let cook in the rendered short rib fat on both sides for about 2 minutes per side until nicely browned and softened. Season the peppers with flakey sea salt and juice of 1 lime.  

Gently reheat the creamed corn in a pan if necessary, careful not to get too hot which will cause the fat from the cheese and butter to break. 

On an individual plate or platter, put the street corn down and the short rib(s) on top of the corn. Spoon the sauce over the top of the short ribs and garnish with crumbled Cacique Queso Fresco, 2-3 of the padron peppers, pickled shallots and cilantro leaves. Serve immediately.  

*Aarón’s Adobo
Makes approximately 1 ½ cups 

¼ cup cumin seeds
¼ cup coriander seeds
¼ cup fennel seeds
¼ cup yellow mustard seeds
2 pasilla chiles, stemmed, seeded, deveined, and torn into small pieces
2 ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded, deveined, and torn into small pieces
½ cup dried whole oregano (preferably Mexican) 
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons garlic powder
¼ cup Spanish paprika (pimento), preferably sweet or hot 

1.    Heat a dry skillet over medium-low heat. Pour in the cumin, coriander, fennel, and mustard seeds along with the pieces of pasilla and ancho chiles. Toast, stirring constantly, until it’s very aromatic and just beings to smoke, about 3 minutes. 
2.    Dump the mixture onto a plate and let it cool to room temperature. Grind it to a fine powder in a spice grinder or clean coffee grinder. 
3.    Put the powder in a large bowl and add the oregano, onion powder, garlic powder, and paprika. Stir them really well to combine. 
4.    Store the adobo in an airtight container or resealable plastic bag in a cool, dark place for up to a month. 

**Pickled Shallots
Makes about 2 cups 
1 ½ cups red wine vinegar
1 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon Kosher salt
6 whole cloves
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano (preferably Mexican)
¼ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
5 large shallots, thinly sliced
1. Combine all ingredients except the shallots in a heavy medium saucepan and set it over medium-high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, then add the shallot slices, separating them out. Let the mixture come back to a boil, then reduce the heat and cook until shallots soften and wilt, 3 to 4 minutes.
2. Remove the saucepan from the heat, cover, and let the mixture cool completely. Transfer the shallots and their pickling liquid to a quart-size glass jar or divide among Tupperware. Cover and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

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