Short Rib Tostadas with Pineapple Salsa and Cotija feature melt-in-your-mouth-tender meat paired with sweet and spicy fresh pineapple salsa and bursts of salty creaminess from Cotija cheese.
Mexican food is a beautiful dance and I find it has a lot of harmony. Slow-cooked complex sauces brightened with fresh flavors from things like cilantro and perfectly ripe tomato. Spice and heat are balanced by cheese and cream. Meats are cooked until fall-apart tender and wrapped up in soft tortillas or served on crunchy tostadas. Without a doubt, I could eat Mexican food every day and be a happy girl!
How to Cook Beef Short Ribs
Tougher cuts of meat, such as beef short ribs, turn out really well when braised; the result is melt-in-your-mouth tender meat! There are a few different methods that can be used to achieve this. No matter which method you’re using, brown the ribs first before cooking in liquid until they’re fall-apart tender.
What is Braising
Braising is basically a two-step cooking method involving dry and wet heat.
Step 1: Dry Heat
Sear the meat in a little oil (or other fat with a high smoke point) in a hot pan (such as a Dutch oven, which is also oven-proof and convenient if you’re using the oven method so you don’t have to switch pots) to get a little caramelization on the outside. If you’re using another cooking method, such as a slow cooker or pressure cooker, you can use a large heavy-bottomed skillet instead of a Dutch oven to sear the meat. If you’re using an electric pressure cooker (such as an Instant Pot), you can use it to brown the meat (on the “Sauté” setting).
Step 2: Wet Heat
Cook the meat low and slow in a flavorful bath of liquid in a covered Dutch oven until its fall-apart tender.
Braising Methods for Short Ribs
There are a few different ways you can cook a meat low and slow when you’re braising:
After searing the ribs in a hot Dutch oven on the stovetop, deglaze the pan. To do so, remove the meat (transfer it to a bowl and set aside for now). To the same pan, add any chopped vegetables you like, such as onion, garlic, carrots, celery, etc. and cook a couple minutes until they start to sweat. Add a couple splashes of liquid (such as broth, stock, beer, wine, water, etc.) and use a wooden spoon to scrape up any brown bits that have formed on the bottom of the pan. Add the meat back along with enough liquid to nearly cover it, cover the Dutch oven, and transfer it to a 350F preheated oven and cook until the meat is falling apart (about 2 to 2 1/2 hours).
Slow Cooker Method
Sear the ribs in a hot skillet on the stovetop, and then deglaze the pan using the same method I describe in the Oven Method. Once the meat is seared, the vegetables are sautéed a little, and the pan is deglazed, everything gets put into a slow cooker and cooked on LOW for 8 to 10 hours. This method is a great choice if you want to come home from work to a hot home-cooked meal.
Instant Pot (Electric Pressure Cooker) Method
This method is definitely the fastest way to get ribs on the table without sacrificing flavor or texture; the cook time is just under an hour! Plus there’s the added bonus of being able to sear the meat right in the Instant Pot. See the recipe below for detailed instructions on this cooking method.
I love the balance that’s present in Mexican cuisine. Bold flavors from chili peppers, mellowed by creamy cheeses. Complex moles that simmer all day, brightened by the freshness of cilantro or a quick homemade salsa, paired with a simply-cooked tender meat. There’s usually a rainbow of vegetables present, such as zucchini, squash, and peppers. Rice if it’s a sit-down occasion, or tortillas if you want something portable. There is truly something for everyone.
I utilized several Cacique® products to take this recipe from average to amazing. To balance out all the spices and the slight heat level in the short ribs, I used Cacique® Mozzarella, Cacique® Cotija, and Cacique® Chipotle Mexican Style Sour Cream. Mozzarella gets melted right onto the tostadas (the corn tortillas that are baked until crispy in the oven). Cotija gets crumbled on top. Chipotle-flavored Mexican style sour cream gets dolloped on to pack a double whammy of spicy flavor with cooling, creamy texture. Cacique® products are perfect for when you want to delicious savory Mexican flavors without having to spend all day in the kitchen.