These slow-cooker Cuban short ribs are rubbed with an irresistible mojo, cooked to fall-apart perfection, and then served with fried green plantains, rice, and avocado. Thank you so much to ButcherBox for sending me a box of amazing grass-fed meat for this post!
Here’s part three of my ongoing love letter to short ribs, which will forever be my favorite cut of beef (you can see part one, kratiem prik thai short ribs, here, and part two, slow-cooker short ribs, here). Up until a couple of years ago, I assumed short ribs were a cut of pork, perhaps a less lengthy version of spareribs, and had never thought to give them a try. As soon as I did, I was all in. Slow-cooked short ribs are beef at its very best: meltingly tender morsels with little crunchy bits, all of which are infused with spot-on savory flavor. I do love a good steak, but I’d choose short ribs instead any day of the week, and these slow-cooker Cuban short ribs are my new absolute favorite.
That’s why I was so excited to find short ribs included in the box of grass-fed meat I got from ButcherBox, a new company that delivers carefully curated boxes of meat straight to your door. I am beyond excited about their boxes, and really think you’ll love them. The mission of ButcherBox is to make grass-fed meat available to everyone, and they’ve taken all the work out of getting a wide selection of delicious and sustainably raised meats to cook with. You can choose how frequently you’d like a box delivered, and can also pick from the all-beef box, a beef & pork box, a beef & chicken box, or a mixed box containing all three. Each box contains 6-10 pounds of meat (enough for 15-20 individual meals at a portion size of 6-8 ounces per meal). The cuts are individually packed so it’s easy to defrost just one short rib or steak at a time or all of them, depending on your cooking plans.
Here’s what was in the all-beef box I got (the contents change from month to month, but always include two pounds of ground beef and several other cuts as well): two pounds of ground beef in one-pound packages, four boneless short ribs packaged individually (two pounds total), four top sirloin steaks packaged individually (about one and a half pounds total), and two pounds of stew beef. (Oh, and a package of sugar-free, Whole30-approved paleo bacon! If you order a box through this link, you’ll get a free package of paleo bacon, too!) The box also contains cards explaining what each cut of meat is and how to best prepare it, with a tried and true recipe using that cut on the other side.
The meat is packaged in a cooler with dry ice, so it will stay fresh for up to 30 hours after it’s delivered in case you’re not home right when it gets there. The sealed individual packages make it easy to defrost your desired overnight in the refrigerator or in half an hour or so by submerging the package(s) in a bowl of cool water.
I usually buy bone-in short ribs, but the boneless ones from ButcherBox were even more flavorful than the bone-in ones I’ve cooked before. I’m now changing my tune about bone-in versus boneless short ribs: if the meat is good enough, you won’t miss the bones!
For this recipe, the short ribs are rubbed with a Cuban mojo made from garlic, fresh oregano, a bit of cumin and smoked paprika, and naranja agria, a bitter orange marinade available in many latin markets (see the recipe notes for a substitution if you’re having trouble finding it). If you have time, salt and pepper the short ribs a few hours or a day in advance and let them sit uncovered in the refrigerator. This gives the seasonings time to penetrate the meat and ensures that the ribs will be nice and dry on the outside so that they’ll get a great crust when you sear them. After their quick sear, the ribs are rubbed with the mojo and go straight into the slow cooker with a little more naranja agria. Four hours later (or eight if you choose to cook on low) the ribs will be easy to pull apart with a fork and the liquid in the slow cooker will have transformed into an epic sauce, which in my opinion is even a tad better with a drizzle of raw honey stirred in.
While the ribs are in the slow cooker, I recommend you make some white rice or cauliflower rice, get started on some tostones, and chop some limes, fresh cilantro, and avocado. The short ribs are amazing on their own (in fact, it’s really hard to shred the meat with two forks without taking one or two or seven little bites for yourself), but they’re even better with all the trimmings. I like to scoop some meat, avocado, and cilantro onto one of the crispy plantains, squeeze a little lime on top, and then eat it like a nacho. Of course, I like to have the rice underneath to soak up all the sauce and make sure it doesn’t go to waste. And if you manage to have leftovers of this dish, pleeeeease fry up a crispy egg and put it on top for breakfast. You won’t regret it!
To get yourself a ButcherBox with free shipping and free paleo bacon, order here. And if you have any questions about my experience with ButcherBox or this recipe, please let me know in the comments!
(Wondering what I did with the other meat in the box? I reverse seared the steaks using this technique from Stupid Easy Paleo but seasoning the meat only with salt and pepper, and they were amazing. Ben and I had them with balsamic roasted Brussels sprouts for an early Valentine’s Day dinner. I used one pound of the ground beef in a batch of my bacon & sweet potato chili, which remains my go-to for weekend batch cooking when I want to have delectable lunches at work all week, and I still have the other pound in the freezer. Half of the bacon went into the chili, too, and the other half was fried up on its own and enjoyed alongside scrambled eggs for breakfast-for-dinner the other night. I haven’t used the stew beef yet, but am contemplating making something with it this weekend–any suggestions?)
- 2 pounds boneless beef short ribs
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 12 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano
- ¼ teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon bittersweet smoked paprika
- 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
- ¾ cup naranja agria (bitter orange marinade or juice), divided*
- 1 tablespoon ghee
- 1 tablespoon honey, optional
- White rice or cauliflower rice
- 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and thinly sliced
- 1 lime, cut into 4 wedges
- A handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
- Pat the short ribs dry and season them on all sides with salt and pepper (I used about 1 teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper). If time allows, let them sit on a baking dish or plate in the refrigerator, uncovered, for at least 2 hours or up to 12.
- When you're ready to start cooking, make the mojo rub. Make a paste with the garlic, oregano, cumin, paprika, and a little salt and pepper (I used about ¼ teaspoon of each). You can do this in a mortar and pestle for a bit of a workout, or in a spice grinder or food processor. (If you don’t have any of those, mound all the ingredients into the center of a cutting board and chop them with a chef’s knife until they come together into a coarse paste.) Transfer the paste to a bowl and stir in the olive oil and about 2 tablespoons of the naranja agria.
- Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the ghee. When the ghee is hot, add the short ribs and sear them until nicely browned on all sides, about ten minutes total. Transfer the ribs to a plate.
- Pour the remaining naranja agria into the skillet and stir, scraping to deglaze the bottom of the pan, and let it bubble away for a minute or two before turning off the heat.
- Once the short ribs are cool enough to touch, rub the mojo paste all over them and put them in the slow cooker. Put about ¼ cup of water into the container the mojo was in, swish it around so as not to waste any flavor, and add the water to the skillet and stir. Pour the liquid from the skillet and any pan juices from the plate into the slow cooker.
- Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 7-8 hours, or until the meat is so tender that it falls apart easily when prodded with a fork. Use tongs to remove the short ribs from the slow cooker and shred the meat with two forks. Stir the honey (if using) into the liquid in the slow cooker, which is now a delicious sauce. Toss the meat with sauce to taste and serve hot with rice, tostones, avocado, lime wedges, and cilantro.
**I make tostones just like this but with ghee instead of coconut oil and regular sea salt instead of garlic salt. If you have my cookbook Paleo Planet, check out the tostones with guasacaca, a guacamole upgrade that would be great with these short ribs, on page 52.
ButcherBox provided me with free product for the development of this recipe, and this post contains affiliate links. If you purchase a ButcherBox after clicking one of my links, I receive a small commission (the price you pay will not be affected). Thank you so much for supporting my site, and rest assured that I only recommend products and services I love!