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Short ribs in a beer and cider vinegar lead to great tacos

Carne deshebrada, literally meaning “shredded beef,” is a common offering at Mexican taco stands. It’s made by braising a large cut of beef until ultra-tender and then shredding the meat and tossing it with a flavorful rojo sauce made with tomatoes and/or dried chiles.

Although short ribs are a bit nontraditional, their ultra-beefy flavor made them an excellent choice. To achieve flavorful browning, we raised the beef up out of the braising liquid by resting it on onion rounds; the ambient heat browned the short ribs just enough for this dish.

Next, we created a braising liquid that would infuse the beef with flavor and later act as a base for our rojo sauce. Beer and cider vinegar provided depth and brightness, and tomato paste boosted savory flavor. Smoky-sweet ancho chiles gave the sauce a rounder flavor and a gentle, spicy kick.

Cumin, cinnamon, cloves, oregano, and bay leaves added warmth and complexity. Once the beef had finished cooking, we pureed the braising liquid into a sauce with a smooth, luxurious consistency. A bright, tangy slaw provided a nice counterbalance to the rich meat. Use a full-bodied lager or ale such as Dos Equis or Sierra Nevada.

Shredded Beef Tacos

Start to finish: 3 1/2 hours

Servings: 6-8

1 1/2 cups beer

4 dried ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded, and torn into 1/2 inch pieces (1 cup)

1/2 cup cider vinegar

2 tablespoons tomato paste

6 garlic cloves, lightly crushed and peeled

3 bay leaves

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons dried oregano

Salt and pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 large onion, sliced into 1/2 inch-thick rounds

3 pounds boneless beef short ribs, trimmed and cut into 2 inch cubes

18 (6 inch) corn tortillas, warmed

1 recipe Cabbage-Carrot Slaw (recipe follows)

4 ounces queso fresco, crumbled (1 cup)

Lime wedges

Adjust oven rack to lower middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees farenheit. Combine beer, anchos, vinegar, tomato paste, garlic, bay leaves, cumin, oregano, 2 teaspoons salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper, cloves, and cinnamon in Dutch oven. Arrange onion rounds in single layer on bottom of pot. Place beef on top of onion rounds in single layer. Cover and cook until meat is well browned and tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

Using slotted spoon, transfer beef to large bowl, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and set aside. Strain liquid through fine-mesh strainer into 2 cup liquid measuring cup (do not wash pot). Discard onion rounds and bay leaves. Transfer remaining solids to blender. Let strained liquid settle for 5 minutes, then skim any fat from surface. Add water as needed to equal 1 cup. Pour liquid into blender with reserved solids and blend until smooth, about 2 minutes. Transfer sauce to now-empty pot.

Using 2 forks, shred beef into bite-size pieces. Bring sauce to simmer over medium heat. Add beef and stir to coat. Season with salt to taste. (Beef can be refrigerated for up to 2 days; gently reheat before serving.)

Spoon small amount of beef into each warm tortilla and serve, passing slaw, queso fresco, and lime wedges separately.

Cabbage-Carrot Slaw

Makes about 8 cups

1 cup cider vinegar

1/2 cup water

1 tablespoon sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 head green cabbage, cored and sliced thin (6 cups)

1 onion, sliced thin

1 large carrot, peeled and shredded

1 jalapeno chile, stemmed, seeded, and minced

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Whisk vinegar, water, sugar, and salt in large bowl until sugar is dissolved. Add cabbage, onion, carrot, jalapeño, and oregano and toss to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 24 hours. Drain slaw and stir in cilantro right before serving.

Nutrition information per serving: 521 calories; 187 calories from fat; 21 g fat (8 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 94 mg cholesterol; 846 mg sodium; 44 g carbohydrate; 9 g fiber; 9 g sugar; 35 g protein.

For more recipes, cooking tips and ingredient and product reviews, visit . Find more recipes like Shredded Beef Tacos in “How to Braise Everything.”

America’s Test Kitchen provided this article to the Associated Press.

California fish tacos are a light and fresh surfside treat

A surfside treat, California fish tacos feature battered and fried crispy white fish and sprightly pickled vegetables. When done right, they are light and fresh, with a lively mix of textures and flavors.

This recipe may look involved, but the components come together quickly, so invite your friends to help. The frying uses a mere 3/4-inch layer of oil (no splattering vats).

We made an ultrathin batter by adding two sources of carbonation, beer and baking powder; they provided lift and their slight acidity limited gluten development. Frying in batches helped maintain the oil’s temperature.

For toppings, we quick-pickled onion and jalapeños and then used the brine to brighten shredded cabbage. Slice fish on the bias if your fillets are not 4 inches wide. Serve with green salsa if desired.

California-Style Fish Tacos

Start to finish: 1 hour

Servings: 6

Pickled Onion and Cabbage:

1 small red onion, halved and sliced thin

2 jalapeno chiles, stemmed and sliced into thin rings

1 cup white wine vinegar

2 tablespoons lime juice

1 tablespoon sugar

Salt and pepper

3 cups shredded green cabbage


2 pounds skinless white fish fillets, such as cod,

haddock, or halibut

Salt and pepper

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup cornstarch

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup beer

1 quart peanut or vegetable oil

18 (6-inch) corn tortillas, warmed

1 cup fresh cilantro leaves

1 cup crema

For the Pickled Onion and Cabbage: Combine onion and jalapeños in medium bowl. Bring vinegar, lime juice, sugar, and 1 teaspoon salt to boil in small saucepan. Pour vinegar mixture over onion mixture and let sit for at least 30 minutes, or refrigerate for up to 2 days. Transfer 1/4 cup pickling liquid to second medium bowl, add cabbage, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and toss to combine.

For the Tacos: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 200 degrees farenheit. Set wire rack in rimmed baking sheet. Cut fish crosswise into 4 by 1-inch strips. Pat dry with paper towels; season with salt and pepper. Whisk flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and 1 teaspoon salt together in large bowl. Add beer and whisk until smooth. Add fish and toss to coat evenly.

Add oil to large Dutch oven until 3-4 inch deep. Heat over medium-high heat to 350 degrees farenheit.

Remove 5 or 6 pieces of fish from batter, allowing excess to drip back into bowl, and add to hot oil, briefly dragging fish along surface of oil to prevent sticking. Adjust burner, if necessary, to maintain oil temperature between 325 and 350 degrees farenheit. Fry fish, stirring gently to prevent pieces from sticking together and turning as needed, until golden brown and crisp, about 8 minutes.

Using slotted spoon or spider skimmer, transfer fish to prepared wire rack and place in oven to keep warm. Return oil to 350 F and repeat with remaining fish. Serve fish and pickled onions and cabbage with tortillas, cilantro, and crema.

Nutrition information per serving: 699 calories; 307 calories from fat; 35 g fat ( 5 g saturated; 1 g trans fats); 65 mg cholesterol; 530 mg sodium; 59 g carbohydrate; 6 g fiber; 7 g sugar; 33 g protein.

For more recipes, cooking tips and ingredient and product reviews, visit . Find more recipes like California-Style Fish Tacos in “New Essentials .”

America’s Test Kitchen provided this article to the Associated Press.

Scammers target the elderly

Q. My 81-year-old mom and I live together. I work 52 hours a week, so she is home alone a lot. She does get picked up by friends a few times a week to play bingo.

But something serious has happened. A guy started an online chat with her on a “Words with Friends” game. She chatted back, and by the fourth chat he had asked for her for personal information such as her email address and phone number.

Now they text every day, and she thinks she’s in love with him. He’s supposed to be a military peacekeeper in Baghdad, who has a suitcase he found with $5 million in it. He asked her to pay a fee of $1,250 to have the suitcase sent to our home until he’s out of the military. She will not believe me when I tell her it’s a scammer.

She sent him the money last week. She only gets $1,200 a month from her Social Security.

She won’t Google the name of the person to whom she sent the money. Now he apparently needs $10,000 for attorney fees. I found the receipt in her room, and, guess what? It’s from Nigeria, not Iraq. I figured my mom knew better than this. She hasn’t even met the guy she’s been texting these past six weeks.

I don’t know what to do! Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. – Concerned Daughter

A. It sounds like your mom is lonely, and going to bingo a few times a week is not enough human interaction for her. Look for local community resources for your mother. Reach out to some of her friends to see if there are other activities they might enjoy together.

You sound like a very hardworking daughter. Consider reconnecting with your mom, and taking a little time for yourself, by taking your mom to the theater or a comedy show – something that you both might enjoy.

However, you have a right to be concerned about her finances. Scams that prey upon the elderly are all too common. They target people who are looking for connection and purpose, which is what it sounds like your mother is craving. If she refuses to listen to you, reach out to the authorities, such as the Adult Protective Services. They provide help and advice for people who are being tricked out of their savings.

Dear Annie: Recently, you published a letter from “Bent But Not Broken in Missouri” who was unable to forgive her family for not supporting her and her ailing husband. Your advice to concentrate on her blessings and to find a support group was excellent, and I hope she listens to you.

In my 75 years of living experience, I have had ample opportunities for hindsight. And I’ve come to understand that people do themselves a tremendous disservice by assuming they know the whole situation when they can’t possibly know what is happening in another person’s life. We are never the only one experiencing difficulties and most people prefer privacy regarding trouble in their lives. I think “Bent” should consider her brother had issues preventing them from traveling of which she was unaware. She should remember the world does not revolve around just her and be happy her brother and his wife have, for whatever reason, now reached out to her.

I have cared for more that one ailing family member and can tell you that many people will say something wrong when trying to be helpful in difficult situations. It’s always best to smile and simply say, “Thank you.” Awkward situations create awkwardness, and generally people mean well. So I think she should also give her aunt the benefit of the doubt. Love is kind, forgiving and accepting, and we generally receive in kind what we give to others. My advice to her would be to try not to judge and she will be happier. – Happier in My Old Age

Dear Happier: Thank you for your wise perspective.

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