Morisqueta con Costillas de Res en Salsa Roja (Rice with Saucy Braised Beef Ribs)


Morisqueta is essentially a taco in rice form: rice topped with a saucy pork, beef, or seafood guisado; beans; raw cabbage for texture; and some crema to pull it all together.

Photo: Photo by Antonis Achilleos / Prop Styling by Christina Daley / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey
Active Time:
2 hrs 50 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs 20 mins
6 to 8

All over the Mexican republic, you will find arroz served as a side in fluffy pilafs, sprinkled in chicken soups, used as a binder for albondigas, or used as the base for morisqueta, Mexico's unsung rice-bowl hero found in regions along the Pacific, specifically Michoacán. 

Bone-in beef short ribs are essential for maximum flavor and texture in this dish. Ask the butcher to cut the flanken through the bone into smaller pieces.


Costillas en Salsa Roja

  • 1 medium yellow onion

  • 8 guajillo chiles

  • 6 de arbol chiles

  • 1 3/4 pounds red tomatoes (5 small tomatoes total)

  • 2 large garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil

  • 1 1/2 pounds flanken-style beef short ribs, 1 inch thick, cut crosswise into 2-inch pieces

  • 4 teaspoons kosher salt, divided

  • 2 cups water, plus more as needed

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano


  • 2 1/2 cups uncooked long-grain white rice

  • 3 quarts water, plus more as needed

  • 3/4 cup kosher salt (note: most of this salt will be drained off after rice is boiled)

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil

  • 4 large tomatillos (10 1/2 ounces total), husks removed and halved through the core

  • 1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, undrained

  • 3/4 cup crema or sour cream thinned out with water to heavy cream consistency

  • Thinly shredded green cabbage, for serving


Prepare the Costillas en Salsa Roja

  1. Halve onion lengthwise; reserve one half for another use. Slice remaining half lengthwise into two wedges; set aside. In a large skillet, toast guajillo and arbol chiles over medium-high heat, turning occasionally, until fragrant and pliable, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Stem chile mixture and halve lengthwise. Remove and discard seeds and ribs.

  2. Place chile mixture and tomatoes in a large saucepan and add just enough water to cover. Bring chile mixture to a boil over high; reduce heat medium, and simmer, adjusting heat to maintain a simmer, for 10 minutes. Remove pan from heat, cover, and let soak until chiles feel soft and pulpy, about 10 minutes.

  3. Drain chile mixture, reserving 2 cups cooking water. Place chile mixture, reserved 2 cups cooking water, and garlic in a blender, and remove center piece to allow steam to escape. Place a clean towel over opening. Process until smooth, about 1 minute. Set chile puree aside.

  4. Heat oil in a medium deep skillet over medium-high. Add onion wedges to skillet, cut sides down, and cook, undisturbed, until underside starts to brown, about 2 minutes (you will discard the charred onion, but it will impart lots of flavor). While onions cook, toss short ribs with 2 1/2 teaspoons of the salt in a medium bowl.

  5. Working in two batches, add shorts ribs to onion wedges in skillet and cook until browned on two sides, 3 to 4 minutes per side, flipping onion wedges when flipping short ribs. Transfer short ribs to a plate. Turn off heat. Let skillet cool 5 minutes. Discard charred onion wedges and all but 1 tablespoon drippings from skillet.

  6. Stir chile puree, 2 cups water, oregano, and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt into drippings in skillet and bring to a simmer over medium-high. Return browned short ribs to skillet. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, partially covered, turning short ribs occasionally, until chile sauce thickens and short ribs are tender when pierced with a fork, 1 hour 40 minutes to 1 hour 55 minutes. Remove from heat, and let cool 15 minutes. Transfer short ribs to a plate. Scrape chile sauce into a large heatproof measuring cup. If needed, add water to equal 3 1/2 cups chile sauce; set aside.

Prepare the Morisqueta

  1. Place rice in a large bowl, add water as needed to cover, and swirl rice with your hand. Drain through a fine mesh strainer; return rice to bowl. Repeat process until water is clear when swirled with rice, about 6 times. Bring 3 quarts water and salt to a boil in a medium 5 1/2 quart Dutch oven over high, stirring occasionally to dissolve salt. Add drained rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until water returns to a simmer and grains of rice have nearly doubled in size but remain firm, 5 to 7 minutes. Drain rice in a fine mesh strainer, and rinse under cold water, stirring with a large spoon, about 45 seconds to stop the cooking; set aside.

  2. Dry Dutch oven with a clean kitchen towel and heat over medium-low. Add oil and swirl to coat bottom of pot in oil. Add drained parboiled rice and spread it out in an even layer. Using back a spoon, make eight indentations in rice and place 1 tomatillo half into each indentation, cut side up. Spoon beans with their liquid all over the rice. Arrange short ribs in an even layer over rice mixture, and spoon chile sauce in an even layer all over. Cover pot with a tight-fitting lid and cook over medium-low until you can hear sauce bubbling in pot (you'll have to put your ear close to the pot), about 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Let rest until rice is tender, about 20 minutes. Gently stir chile sauce into rice mixture.

  3. Serve directly from pot, or using a large spoon, gently scoop Morisqueta with braised short ribs onto a large platter. If you're lucky, you will get a piece of jammy tomatillo to smash into the rice. Drizzle with crema and top with a sprinkle of cabbage.

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