Chilmole-Braised Short Ribs with Fresh Herb Garnish

Chilmole-Braised Short Ribs with Fresh Herb Garnish
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About This Recipe

In the heart of Northern California lies a culinary gem – the Napa Valley. Renowned for its lush vineyards, this region is also a beacon for food enthusiasts, offering rich flavors and recipes passed down through generations. One such treasure that has found its way onto my dining table is the Chilmole-Braised Short Ribs. This dish, with its hearty meat bathed in a deep, smoky chilmole sauce and topped with a fresh herb garnish, is a testament to the vibrant tapestry of flavors Napa has to offer.

Short ribs, as the name suggests, are a cut of beef that's both flavorful and tender when cooked slowly. This dish truly allows the meat to be the star. The chilmole provides an earthy depth, drawing inspiration from traditional Mexican moles but with a Napa twist. Slow-cooked to perfection, these short ribs melt in your mouth, making it a dish that's both luxurious and comforting.

But what's a dish without its perfect wine partner, especially in wine country? Napa, with its sprawling vineyards, has given us wines that can elevate any meal. For the Chilmole-Braised Short Ribs, two wines come to mind. First, the full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon, a varietal almost synonymous with Napa Valley. With its balanced tannins and deep berry flavors, it beautifully complements the rich braised ribs. If you're on the lookout for an exceptional bottle, Stag's Leap Wine Cellars has been producing standout Cabernet Sauvignons for decades. Another equally remarkable choice is the offering from Opus One Winery, which is an embodiment of elegance and opulence.

The second wine that pairs delightfully with the short ribs is Merlot. Its velvety texture and flavors of plum and black cherry offer a fruit-forward contrast, making each bite of the meat even more delightful. While many wineries in the region produce Merlot, two have caught my attention: Duckhorn Vineyards in Napa and Matanzas Creek Winery in Sonoma. Both offer Merlots that are lush, aromatic, and the ideal companion to braised dishes.

For visitors to Napa or Sonoma, apart from the wineries, exploring local markets to source fresh herbs and vegetables is a must. Incorporating root vegetables, for instance, could provide an earthy balance to your short ribs, enhancing the overall culinary experience.

If you find yourself planning a trip to this wine haven, don't just stop at the vineyards. Explore the local eateries, pop into farm-to-table restaurants, and let the Napa culinary experience wash over you. The marriage of Chilmole-Braised Short Ribs with the region's iconic wines is just one example of the gastronomic wonders that await.

Incorporating such local flavors into dishes provides a unique opportunity to understand the culture, history, and traditions of Napa Valley and Northern California. From the Cabernet Sauvignons that have put Napa on the global wine map to the timeless recipes that have been passed down through generations, every bite, every sip tells a story.

So, the next time you find yourself longing for a rich, hearty dish that embodies the spirit of Napa, let the Chilmole-Braised Short Ribs be your guide. And remember, a dish like this isn't just about the taste; it's about the memories you create around the table, the stories shared, and the wines that flow freely. Here's to many such memorable meals in the heart of wine country!

Hero Ingredient Spotlight: Chilmole Paste

Chilmole, also known as "black recado," is a rich, dark paste originating from Yucatán and Quintana Roo in Mexico. Crafted from a mix of roasted chiles, spices, and sometimes even chocolate, chilmole offers a deep, smoky flavor profile that sets it apart. It's this earthy intensity that beautifully complements the robust nature of beef short ribs. In the world of culinary artistry, the harmonious fusion of chilmole with Napa Valley wines, particularly Cabernet Sauvignon, exemplifies a match made in heaven. The complex flavors of chilmole paste resonate with the tannin-rich tones of the wine, creating a truly immersive dining experience.

How to Perfectly Sear Your Short Ribs

  1. Start with Room-Temperature Ribs: Before cooking, let your beef short ribs sit out for about 30 minutes. This ensures even cooking.
  2. Ensure Your Pot is Hot: Heat your olive oil in the pot until shimmering but not smoking. This high heat guarantees a great sear.
  3. Pat the Ribs Dry: Remove excess moisture with a paper towel. This step ensures you get that desired crispy crust.
  4. Don't Overcrowd the Pot: Sear the ribs in batches if needed. Overcrowding can cause the ribs to steam instead of sear.


  1. Can I use another cut of beef if I don't have short ribs? Absolutely! While short ribs offer a unique texture and flavor, you can also use beef chuck roast or brisket for a similar braising experience.
  2. Is there a non-alcoholic substitute for red wine in the recipe? Yes, if you prefer not to use wine, you can substitute it with a mix of beef broth and a splash of balsamic vinegar or red wine vinegar for acidity.
  3. How should I store leftover Chilmole-Braised Short Ribs? Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. For longer storage, consider freezing for up to 2-3 months.
  4. I'm allergic to cilantro. What can I use in the herb garnish instead? If cilantro isn't your favorite or you have an allergy, you can use fresh basil or mint as a substitute. Both will offer a refreshing contrast to the rich chilmole sauce.
  5. Do I need a Dutch oven for this recipe? While a Dutch oven is optimal for its even heat distribution, you can use any large, ovenproof pot with a tight-fitting lid.

Tips for Success

  1. Chilmole Paste Variations: If you're unable to find chilmole paste, consider blending dried ancho and guajillo chiles with spices like cumin, clove, and allspice for a homemade version.
  2. Bone vs. Boneless: Using bone-in short ribs can contribute to a richer flavor in the sauce due to the marrow. However, if boneless ribs are all you have, they'll work just fine!
  3. Serving Suggestion: Pair these luscious short ribs with a side of creamy mashed potatoes or polenta to absorb that delightful chilmole sauce. The combination is truly a celebration of flavors!

Recipe Overview

Chilmole-Braised Short Ribs with Fresh Herb Garnish
Lily Anderson
4 servings
Calories Per Serving:
Prep Time:
Cook Time:
Total Time:

Ingredients List


  • 4 bone-in beef short ribs (about 2 1/2 pounds)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chilmole paste (can be found in specialty stores or made from dried, roasted chiles)
  • 2 cups beef broth or stock
  • 1 cup red wine (preferably a hearty Napa Valley red, like Cabernet Sauvignon)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme (or 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves)
  • Fresh herb garnish: chopped parsley, cilantro, and chives

Step-by-Step Directions

  1. Preheat your oven to 325°F (165°C).
  2. Season the short ribs generously with salt and pepper.
  3. In a large ovenproof pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the short ribs and sear on all sides until they are browned, about 2-3 minutes per side. Remove from the pot and set aside.
  4. Reduce heat to medium and add the chopped onion, sautéing until translucent. Add the minced garlic and sauté for an additional minute.
  5. Stir in the chilmole paste until the onions and garlic are well-coated.
  6. Deglaze the pot with the red wine, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom.
  7. Return the short ribs to the pot. Add the beef broth, bay leaf, and thyme. The liquid should mostly cover the short ribs; add a bit more broth if necessary.
  8. Bring the mixture to a boil, then cover and transfer to the preheated oven. Braise for about 2.5 hours, or until the short ribs are tender and easily fall off the bone.
  9. Once done, remove the ribs from the pot and strain the liquid to remove any solids. If you prefer a thicker sauce, you can reduce it on the stove for an additional 10-15 minutes.
  10. Serve the short ribs hot, drizzled with the sauce and generously garnished with the fresh herbs.

Share Your Results

Was it everything you dreamed it could be? Let me know how it turned out for you and share a picture on social media with the hashtag #LilyCooksNapa

Hello and welcome to Napa Home Chef! We're thrilled you're joining us to explore the vibrant world of wine country cooking. Our team has crafted bold, creative recipes inspired by Napa Valley's lush landscapes, bountiful harvests, and world-renowned wines. We hope you enjoy the journey with us!

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