Slow-Cooker Cuban Short Ribs
Recipe type: Gluten free, Primal, Beef, Short Ribs, Slow Cooker, Dinner
Cuisine: Cuban
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
These short ribs are rubbed with an irresistible Cuban mojo, slow cooked to fall-apart perfection, and then served with fried green plantains, rice, and avocado.
For the short ribs:
  • 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
For serving:
  • White rice or cauliflower rice
  • Tostones**
  • 1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and thinly sliced
  • 1 lime, cut into 4 wedges
  • A handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 was happily surprised to find naranja agria at the first place I tried here in Chattanooga, so I bet there's some for sale near you. I used La Preferida brand, which is free of sugar, artificial colors, and artificial flavors--some other brands do contain added sugar, so watch out for that if you don't include it in your diet. If you can't find bottled naranja agria or aren't happy with the ingredients list, you can substitute a mix of fresh, orange, grapefruit, and lime juice. Of course, if you're lucky enough to find and juice fresh bitter oranges, also known as Seville oranges, that would be even better!

**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.
Recipe by A Calculated Whisk at