When life gives you leftover beef ribs, make beef rib tacos…or at least I think that’s how the saying goes? Right? Maybe not, but that’s just what I did. Ever since my boyfriend’s custom smoker arrived at our house we have been working our way through every possible cut of appropriate meat to smoke; beef ribs, pork ribs, brisket, pork shoulder, you name it and it’s on his ‘to-smoke’ list.
Smoking meat can be a little hit and miss, mostly hit, but the real technique is in starting and managing the fire. Keeping a fire at a semi-constant temperature for a long period of time, anywhere from five to twelve hours, requires a lot of dedication. Ollie has got progressively better at smoking meat and managing the fire, and has subsequently figured out some really helpful (albeit simple) techniques, like cutting wood to certain sizes to induce a lower (and slower) burn rate, or smaller pieces if he needs to raise the temperature quickly. I’m so impressed by the time and energy he has invested into mastering the art of fire making and smoking, he’s now a part-time pyromaniac, full time meat maker. What a man.
Generally speaking, smoked meat requires specialist equipment, so for this recipe I would encourage you to cook your beef ribs in the oven (unless of course you have a Texan style smoker, ours is pictured below for reference). If you do, then rub your beef ribs with a little olive oil, and sprinkle over a mix of 2Tbs each of pre-cracked black pepper and salt and 2tsp each of onion powder and garlic powder. Cook for 8 hours at roughly 135ºC, wrapping in foil once a nice ‘bark’ has formed on the meat.
Otherwise, there are a stack of good recipes around for the oven alternative, I would go with your gut-instinct for which recipe to use, but generally speaking they’re all pretty similar. I really love the simple but punchy combo of toppings on this taco, the lime and coriander sauce adds a wonderful creaminess while the pickled red onions add a little bite and cut through the rich meat, as they are “quick pickles” they retain their wonderful crunch and lose that pungent raw onion tang. Experiment with the toppings though, the world is your taco.
Beef rib meat, cooked (roughly 200gms per person), see above for cooking ideas
3 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
⅓ cup vegetable oil
1 cup warm water
Lime and coriander sauce
1 bunch coriander, stems and leaves
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1 Tbs pickled jalapenos, including 2 tsp pickling liquid
30mls olive oil
Juice of 3 limes, zest of 1 lime
Quick pickled onion
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
2 Tbs raw sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tsp dried oregano
2 cloves of garlic
Extra coriander leaves
Radishes, thinly sliced
- To make tortillas: combine flour, salt and baking powder in the bowl of a stand mixer with the dough hook attached. Add oil and water with mixer running at a medium speed. Mix for a minute, scraping the sides of the bowl if necessary. When mixture comes together and begins to form a ball, decrease mixing speed to low and continue to mix for 1 minute or until dough is smooth.
- Transfer from mixing bowl to a well-floured work surface. Divide dough in half, then in half again. Continue until you have roughly 12 equal portions. Roll each piece into a ball and flatten with the palm of your hand. If the dough is sticky, sprinkle with a bit more flour. Cover flattened balls of dough with a slightly damp clean kitchen towel and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
- After rest period, heat a large pan over medium-high heat. Roll each dough piece into a rough circle, about 6-7 inches in diameter, keep work surface and rolling pin lightly floured. Don’t stack uncooked tortillas on top of each other or they will get soggy.
- When pan is very hot, place one dough circle into pan and allow to cook about 1 minute or until bottom surface has a few pale brown spots. The uncooked surface will begin to show a few little bubbles. If tortilla is browning too fast, reduced heat a bit. If it’s taking longer than a minute to see a few pale golden brown spots on underside of tortillas, increase heat a bit. Flip to other side and cook for about 30 seconds. Remove from pan and stack in a container with a tea towel on top, this will keep them soft and pliable.
- To make lime and coriander sauce: into a blender, or using a stick blender, combine all ingredients and blend until smooth. Check for seasoning. If the sauce is too lose, add another chunk of avocado until it reaches a thicker consistency.
- To make the pickled onions: Into a small container, dissolve sugar and salt into 3Tbs of white vinegar, then add onions and oregano, and top with enough white vinegar to cover the onions (if more than original liquid is required). Cover with cling film and allow to sit until ready to serve. The onions will soften and may lose some of their colour.
- To serve, heat beef rib meat if necessary and shred (I warmed my meat in a small pan with beef stock, then shredded and removed from pot), serving in a bowl in the middle of the table with pickled onions, radish slices, coriander, green sauce and tortillas on the side for people to make their own taco.
Serve with cold beers to get the fiesta started…