Smokey beef rib tacos

This is a recipe that can go in so many directions, it’s about using what’s to hand to create a combination of smokiness, acidity, spiced depth, sweetness, and that umami depth that we all love.

Smokey beef rib taco recipe

Recipe by Brent Hulena


  • 2.8 kilos beef short ribs

  • Any spiced seasoning mix in the cupboard (bbq, jerk, harissa, it’ll be fine. If you want to make your own mix-use smoked paprika, garlic salt, ground cumin, dried thyme, pepper)

  • 500ml orange juice

  • 500ml good quality beef stock

  • 2 dried ancho chillies soaked in hot water (reserve the water)

  • 100g demerara sugar

  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika

  • 1 tbsp onion granules

  • 2 bay leaves

  • 1 tbsp oregano

  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes (rinse the tin with a little water and add) 

  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds

  • 1 tbsp chipotle paste

  • 1 red chilli chopped

  • 2 cloves garlic chopped

  • 3 tbsp cider vinegar

  • 1 small or half a large cinnamon stick

  • 10 peppercorns

  • 1 star anise

  • 50ml good bourbon (or as much as you want)

  • Salt

  • 1 lime

  • 50g dark chocolate (at least 70%, even pure 100% cacao if you fancy) plus 10g for garnish

  • Tortillas

  • Radishes thinly sliced

  • 100ml cider vinegar

  • 100ml cider vinegar

  • 1 tbsp salt 

  • 1 tbsp demerara sugar

  • Bay leaf

  • 4 peppercorns 

  • 1 tin of black beans

  • Bay leaf

  • Salt

  • Pepper

Beef Rib Directions

  • Rub the beef with your spice mix and leave for a few hours or overnight.
  • Brown the beef in a Dutch oven / heavy-bottomed pan with a splash of Yorkshire rapeseed oil (if using a slow cooker transfer meat to the bowl now and deglaze the pan you fried it in with a splash of water and add that with the meat).
  • Add all of the other ingredients from group 1, cover and cook low and slow for a minimum of 4 hours (very low on a gentle simmer on the hob or in a 160°C oven / 140°C if fan oven). The beef should be ready to fall off the bone when done.
  • Take off the heat / out of the oven and let rest.
  • Take the beef out of the cooking liquor and pull off the bones, cover and reserve. 
  • Add the bourbon to the cooking liquor.
  • Reduce the liquor to a thick sticky sauce, at least ¾ of the volume should be gone.
  • Take out star anise, bay leaves and cinnamon.
  • Blitz with a stick blender or food processor (be careful with hot liquids).
  • Add salt and lime juice to taste, add the beef and stir.
  • Add the vinegar, sugar, salt, bay leaf and peppercorns to a small pan.
  • Heat until the salt and sugar have dissolved.
  • Take off the heat, add the radishes and let the liquid cool.
  • Add the beans and water from the tin to a pan.
  • Add the bay leaf and seasoning.
  • Heat gently, adding more water if needed and cook slowly for approximately 30 mins stirring frequently until the beans break down, you can mash them down if you prefer a smoother texture.
  • Place a warmed tortilla on a plate.
  • Add the beef, black beans and sauce.
  • Top with the pickled radishes.
  • Add a lime wedge.
  • Finish by grating the 10g chocolate over the top.

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