Barbacoa Beef Tacos with Two Sauces


While most meat is put on the grill raw, these intensely flavorful Mexican beef short ribs from chef Roberto Santibañez are first braised with chiles and spices until meltingly tender. The cooked meat is then crisped on the grill, shredded and served in corn tortillas with a sauce made from the braising liquid. Plus:  More Mexican Recipes 

Barbacoa Beef Tacos with Two Sauces
Photo: © Con Poulos
Active Time:
40 mins
Total Time:
4 hrs


  • 4 large ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded

  • 4 dried chipotle chiles, stemmed

  • 3 celery ribs, chopped

  • 2 medium carrots, chopped

  • 1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced

  • 15 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled

  • 8 bay leaves

  • Six 1-lb., English-cut, bone-in beef short ribs

  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

  • Kosher salt

  • Pepper

  • Warm corn tortillas, cilantro sprigs, finely chopped white onion and lime wedges, for serving

  • Salsa Verde Cruda, for serving


Braise the Meat

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°. In a medium skillet, toast the ancho chiles over moderate heat, turning, until pliable and charred in spots, about 2 minutes; let cool slightly, then tear into pieces.

  2. In a large roasting pan, toss the ancho and chipotle chiles with the celery, carrots, onion, garlic and bay leaves. In a large bowl, toss the short ribs with the oregano, cumin and 2 tablespoons of salt. Arrange the ribs over the vegetables in the roasting pan. Add 2 cups of water to the pan, cover tightly with foil and braise in the oven for about 3 1/2 hours, until the meat is very tender.

Make the Chile Sauce

  1. Transfer the ribs to a baking sheet. Strain the braising liquid through a colander set over a heatproof bowl; skim off any fat. Discard the bay leaves and return the vegetables and chiles to the braising liquid. Working in batches, puree the vegetables and liquid in a blender until smooth. Season the sauce with salt and pepper.


  1. Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Working in batches if necessary, grill the ribs over high heat, turning occasionally, until charred and crisp, about 5 minutes total. Transfer to a platter and, using two forks, shred the meat; discard the bones. Serve the barbacoa in warm corn tortillas with the sauce, cilantro, chopped onion, lime wedges and Salsa Verde Cruda.

Make Ahead

The braised short ribs and sauce can be refrigerated separately for 3 days. Warm the ribs in a low oven before grilling.

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