Growing up, I lived in the same house with my Mom and my Grandpa. Everyone calls my grandfather “Sando,” which is short for Sandoval, his last name. My grandpa Sando, who will be turning 87 this year, is one of the most extraordinary men who has ever existed, at least in my opinion. He’s one of the biggest loves of my life. He continues to leave me in awe of all his wisdom and talent… but not with his cooking.
If I woke up to the sound of my grandfather singing his favorite Spanglish song, “Cuando yo estaba chiquito mi mama me decia ‘Pretty Baby’”…. it was a sure signal that he was either in the kitchen cooking or on his way to the kitchen. Most of the time, he was in there frying up an egg that he would then throw over the fence to the neighbors dog Oso. As the egg would take flight, he would say under his breath, “Oso - baboso.” In our backyard, he kept a garden of mystery herbs… no one knew what they were (and still don’t)… and that’s where he usually pulled from for his seasoning. He would take a gorgeous cut of meat, and then ruin it with some overgrown weed that no one could classify. The only herb I know for sure was yerba buena (mint), and who wants to eat that in every dish…. “Not I,” said the little girl in me. Yup, my grandfather made the adult version of mud pie. He was the only one who ever wanted to eat the end result. He would always offer me his creation of the day, and I never wanted to hurt his feelings, so sometimes I would just suck it up and eat whatever it was he made. Other times, when I didn’t think I could bear it, I would simply say, “I don’t like that, Grandpa.” He usually would take a moment… make a face like I just insulted his intelligence, then follow up by saying in his thick Mexican accent, “Oh…you don’t know! You’re too picky.” Maybe I was too picky…. I just loved eating beautiful food, even back then.
The only dish I ever craved that my grandfather made was short ribs… I craved the tenderness of the beef falling off the bone, but not so much the weeds he cooked them in.
Here’s a recipe for my version of short ribs…I may have to make them for my otherwise perfect grandpa Sando.
Short Rib Ingredients:
4 – pounds of short ribs with the bone (about 8 pieces)
1 1/2 – bottles of Mexican beer (I prefer to use Bohemia, or Negra Modelo)
1 – tablespoon of oregano
1 – tablespoon of salt
1 – tablespoon of pepper
1/2 – tablespoon of garlic powder
3 – tablespoons of olive oil
2 – brown onion (thinly sliced)
2 – tomato (chopped big)
4 – garlic cloves (peeled, then smashed)
8 - chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (I use San Marcos) (chopped)
48 – ounces of beef broth (I use Swansons)
2 – carrots (peeled and chopped into 1-inch rounds)
2 – bay leaves
In a big bowl add short ribs and Mexican beer. Let marinate for one to two hours in refrigerator.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Take short ribs out of Mexican beer marinade, and pat short ribs dry. Set beer marinade to the side for a later use. Now generously season short ribs with oregano, salt, pepper, and garlic powder.
Pour olive oil into a 7 quart dutch oven and place over a medium-high flame. Allow oil to get hot. Working in small batches (3 at a time) add short ribs and sear on each side, just to brown. Once all short ribs are seared, remove from dutch oven and set to the side.
Lower the flame to medium and add in onion, tomato, smashed garlic cloves, and chipotle chiles, and saute for 10 minutes.
Then add in 1 1/2 cups of beer marinade, and seared short ribs.
Next add in beef broth, just enough to cover the very top of the short ribs. Finally, add in chopped carrots, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil.
Once boiling, cover dutch oven with lid and place in the center rack of oven for two hours!
These are my dream short ribs. Spicy, tender meat falling off the bone.
I serve mine with refried pinto beans, grilled zucchini and flour tortillas. It’s the perfect menu for an intimate dinner party or cut the recipe in half for a romantic dinner (the cooking time and oven temperature stay the same).
Grandpa Sando and me.