Crispy Short Rib Cemitas with Chipotle Sauce and Pickled Red Onion

After braising short ribs until they're supertender, Food & Wine's Justin Chapple throws them on a grill to get them a little charred and crisp. He piles the meat onto soft crusty rolls slathered with garlicky mayo and smoky chipotle sauce made from the deeply tasty braising liquid.

Active Time:
1 hrs
Total Time:
2 hrs 30 mins


  • 4 pounds English-cut beef short ribs

  • Kosher salt and pepper

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing

  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped

  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped

  • 8 garlic cloves, 6 crushed and 2 finely grated

  • 2 cups beef stock or low-sodium broth

  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro, plus sprigs for serving

  • 2 chipotles in adobo, plus 1/4 cup adobo from the can

  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

  • 2 teaspoons sugar

  • 1 medium red onion, halved and very thinly sliced

  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise

  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

  • 6 cemita or ciabatta rolls, split


  1. Preheat the oven to 325°. Generously season the short ribs with salt and pepper. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat the 2 tablespoons of olive oil until shimmering. Add the yellow onion, carrot and crushed garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened and just starting to brown, about 8 minutes. Add the stock, chopped cilantro, chipotles and adobo and bring to a boil. Add the ribs, cover and braise in the oven until very tender, about 2 hours.

  2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the vinegar with the sugar, 1/2 cup water and 2 teaspoons of kosher salt. Add the red onion and refrigerate for 1 hour, then drain.

  3. In a medium bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with the lemon juice and the grated garlic. Season the garlic mayonnaise with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until chilled.

  4. Using tongs, transfer the short ribs to a baking sheet. Remove and discard the bones. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables from the braising liquid to a blender and puree until very smooth; scrape the chipotle sauce into a small bowl. Discard any liquid in the casserole.

  5. Preheat a grill pan. Brush the rolls with olive oil and grill over high heat until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a platter. Add the short ribs to the grill pan and cook over high heat, turning once, until lightly charred and crisp, 2 to 3 minutes total. Return the short ribs to the baking sheet and shred with 2 forks.

  6. Spread the chipotle sauce and garlic mayonnaise on the rolls. Fill the rolls with the shredded short ribs, pickled red onion and cilantro sprigs. Serve right away.

Make Ahead

The braised short ribs, pickled red onion and garlic mayonnaise can be refrigerated separately for up to 3 days. Bring the short rib meat to room temperature before grilling.

Suggested Pairing

A Grenache-based blend such as Châteauneuf-du-Pape can handle the bold flavors of these cemitas.

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