Beer braised beef short ribs in a Dutch oven

Braised short rib with couscous

For this short rib recipe, jalapeño, onion, garlic, beer, and rosemary all come together to make a savory and slightly spicy braise. I love that the liquid imparts a lot of flavor on the short ribs in the long cooking process.

I should probably mention that you should plan on getting started on this about 3 hours before you would like to eat dinner. It takes about 1/2 an hour to prep and sear the meat and then it cooks in the oven for 2 to 2 1/2 hours. It is so worth all that time in the oven though. The meat becomes very tender and pulls completely away from the bone.

The beef short ribs taste great with rice, couscous, or another grain and any hearty winter vegetable. In the photo above, you can see that I served it with whole wheat couscous. I plan on stir frying bell peppers soon and serving that with the meat and tortillas. I imagine this would be great for a party, but if you’re serving a group and want to cut costs you might want to use chuck roast instead.

Ribs with onions, jalapeno and garlic
Beer braised beef ribs

I had this recipe in the notes app on my phone from October 29, 2016. It was labeled as beef stew. I remember making this beef stew and it being good, so I decided to try it again.

The recipe in the note wasn’t what you will read down below, though. It wasn’t as complete and didn’t quite make sense, so I had to re-write it and test it out twice. I’m fairly certain I didn’t have a dutch oven back in 2016, so I’m not even quite sure how I made this. I must have just used my large oven-safe stock pot and put that in the oven.

When I made this last month, the first time I tested the updated recipe, I used a package labeled beef back ribs by accident. I’m not entirely sure what the difference is between back ribs and short ribs, except the back ribs were definitely longer and it seemed as if they were less fatty. The beef still tasted great and the meat was less expensive than short ribs.

Short ribs used to be inexpensive but they have become such a popular cut that they increased in price. The good thing about short ribs is that they’re not as long so they fit easier in the dutch oven. I had to cook the back ribs in batches.

Beer braised short ribs in dutch-oven

Adapted from The Kitchn with inspiration from the pioneer woman.

Beer braised beef short ribs in a Dutch oven

2 pound ribs, bone in
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
Flour (about 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon)
Salt, preferably Kosher
Freshly ground black pepper
1/2 jalapeño, chopped
1/4 onion, sliced
1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic OR 3 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups beer
3/4 cup water
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary

Arrange a rack in the lower third of the oven, remove the racks above it, and heat to 325°F. Brush each short rib with the oil, then sprinkle generously with flour, salt and pepper.

On medium high heat, sear the beef on all sides for several minutes each. This should take about 15 minutes. Don’t crowd the pan. If the meat doesn’t all fit in the pan, cook in batches. Sear the ends as well as the sides.

Turn the heat down to medium and add the jalapeño, onion and garlic around the browned short ribs. Let the onions cook until they soften, about 5 minutes.

Add the beer and water to the pot and bring to a simmer.

After the liquid comes to a simmer, add the rosemary. Cover and place in the oven. Braise in the oven until the meat is very tender and pulling away from the bone, 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

Notes:
Add more onion if you want. As you may know, my husband is picky about onions.

Use your favorite beer. In my case, an IPA beer every time but a different one each time. I don’t recommend using a beer that has a strong fruit flavor, even if you like that normally. It could conflict with the jalapeño and other flavors too much.

The liquid should thicken and cook down. Check on it halfway through cooking and add additional liquid if necessary. There should be no less than 1/4 of an inch of liquid.

Fried rice

Fried rice with pork

As promised, I’m sharing my mom’s fried rice recipe with you. It goes great with the orange chicken I posted on Monday.

Fried rice is a great way to use up leftover white rice. This recipe is one that my mom used when I was growing up.

I made this for my husband Paul and me for dinner and he said, “This tastes like takeout. Better than takeout!”

Fried rice with space for egg

Fried rice egg cooking

Easy fried rice

According to the recipe, it serves 5 to 6 people.

When I made this on Tuesday and followed the recipe for 3 cups cooked rice, I served it with two pork chops. As a main dish with the meat added, it was 3 servings for us. I think 5 to 6 servings is if it is a side dish.

Sometimes I want to make fried but only 2 servings, or about 1 cup cooked rice. I’m just cooking for myself and my husband and don’t always intend for leftovers. In that case, I still look to this recipe as a basic template.

Fried rice

Fried rice

2 tablespoons chopped onion
2 tablespoons oil
3 cups cooked rice
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 eggs, well-beaten
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, or 2 tablespoons dry parsley
1/8 teaspoon pepper

In medium skillet, cook onion in oil until tender. Add rice and soy sauce. Cook over low heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally with a fork.

Move the rice to the sides of the pan and put the eggs in the center. Cook over low heat 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. After the egg is cooked, stir the rice into it. Add the parsley and pepper.

If desired, serve with additional soy sauce. Add chicken or other meat to make it a main dish. Or, serve with weeknight orange chicken. It also goes great with stir-fry vegetables. It’s easy to add in frozen mixed vegetables and have them heat up along with the rice, before adding the eggs. Or, you can keep it traditional and add fresh, diced carrots and peas.

Note: Parsley, as suggested in the recipe, makes a good decorative topping. I had cilantro on hand, so I used that instead. It’s what’s in the photos. It has a different taste, but similar look.

Weeknight orange chicken

Orange chicken

It took me about 45 minutes to make the orange chicken from start to finish, and that includes stopping to take photos here and there. You may be able to have it done in 30 minutes or less.

If you’re part of my family on my mom’s side and reading this, you may recognize this recipe because it’s in the Carpenter Cookbook.

Chicken thighs and sauce
Chicken thighs cooking
Chicken simmering in sauce

The orange chicken goes great with vegetable fried rice. I served it with Trader Joe’s frozen vegetable fried rice. I would have made fried rice from scratch to go with this meal, but I didn’t have enough white rice in my pantry and when I went to the Trader Joe’s for more, they were sold out.

In the next few weeks, I’ll share a great recipe of my mom’s for homemade fried rice. If you’re a Carpenter, you can find that in the family cookbook too.

Update: Here is my mom’s orange chicken recipe.

I think Grandma saved this recipe from a food column in a local newspaper, perhaps the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, but I can’t remember for sure now.

Orange chicken two servings

Weeknight orange chicken

2/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup orange marmalade
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon crushed garlic
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the orange juice, marmalade, soy sauce, mustard, ginger, garlic, brown sugar and cornstarch. Stir or whisk to blend well. The marmalade will seem lumpy, but with enough stirring will combine well. Set aside.

Cut chicken breasts into nugget size pieces. Season lightly with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Heat oil in a 12-inch non stick skillet. Add chicken and cook over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until no longer pink, about 5 to 7 minutes.

Pour orange sauce into the pan, stir and bring to a boil. Boil chicken and sauce 1 to 2 minutes, stirring frequently; sauce will thicken. If it doesn’t seem thick enough, turn heat to low and simmer for about 5 minutes more.

A few notes:

  1. The original recipe didn’t call for sugar but I added it because the marmalade and the sauce overall tasted a bit bitter. Adjust according to your tastes and how sweet your brand of marmalade is. For reference, I used Trader Joe’s orange marmalade.
  2. The original recipe said to use chicken breast halves, but I like using thighs for this recipe. Thighs are more fatty. They’re generally not as healthy, but they taste more tender and juicy than chicken breast meat.
  3. I left out the crushed garlic because I didn’t have any. If you have it, use it.

Variations: Add 1 (11 to 15-ounce) can mandarin oranges, drained, to the pan once the chicken is done and the sauce is thickened. Add sliced carrots and celery into the pan to sauté with the chicken. Sprinkle salted cashews on top of the finished dish for added crunch. Sprinkle chopped green onion or chopped fresh parsley or cilantro on top of the finished dish for color and flavor. Add 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes to the sauce if your family likes a spicy dish. Add 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil to the olive oil if you like that flavor.

Taco night brings people together

Who doesn’t love tacos? Not only do they taste good, but I have found that where there are tacos there is good conversation and a community atmosphere. Just think about the last time you ate tacos and what you were doing at that time. It most likely was awesome.

Tacos in my family are about fiestas and familia. We may be white, but we live in Southern California and therefore have learned how to cook some awesome Mexican food. I had to have my sister and friends help me out, but I’m slowly learning too.

Last night I had a few friends over for fish and chicken tacos with some sides of pinto beans, Spanish rice, sweet corn cake, guacamole and salsa. Everything was more or less homemade and it was all really delicious! Unfortunately, I forgot to take a picture of the tacos, but they did look great. For the fish tacos and watermelon salsa, I used this Food Network magazine recipe.

Guacamole before it was mixed up

Watermelon salsa

In strange and unexpected tun of events, the watermelon salsa ended up locked in the garage. I had put it in the garage refrigerator and when people started coming over, the garage door wouldn’t open with the remote. There is no side door, so my aunt had to call a repair person to come fix it. We got the salsa out once everyone was done with their tacos, but before dessert.

Jamiaca smells and looks pretty

I got these jamaica flowers at Baja Ranch on Tuesday, but later read online that jamaica tea drink has a tendency to stain things. I don’t want to risk staining the kitchen counters, so I just kept this as a decoration. I bought a 24-pack of Pacifico beer when I went to the store with my sister in the morning and a 1 liter bottle of Coke in the afternoon when my boyfriend and I went back for  fish since I forgot to defrost what we had. It’s a good thing I got the Coke because no one ended up drinking beer.

the promising looking brownies

There were a few changes in the dessert menu, but it all worked out in the end. My sister made brownies, but they accidentally got burned, even though she put them in for the time the recipe called for. My best friend was going to bring homemade soy vanilla ice cream, but her sister accidentally knocked the bowl over, spilling it out. Instead, my friend brought over honey flavored frozen yogurt that was sweet and light. To put on the frozen yogurt, we cut up mangos, plums, bananas and pecans to give everyone choices. The sweet corn cake was a real hit in the dessert and side department.

Tacos and good friends are two of my favorite things and even though little things I had planned for the night didn’t work out, I’m so glad the dinner all worked out.