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Puerto Rican Style Short Ribs

June 30, 2011 by Joan Nova in Nuevo Latino, Recipe Development, Techniques | 30 Comments

I’ve moved more than a half-dozen times in my adult life. Like many people, with each move I lessened the load. This meant as my life became more (or shall we say totally) digitalized, “lessening the load” meant getting rid of cookbooks.

Yes, I loved them but the fact was I no longer looked at them. Didn’t have the time or inclination because truth is I had already begun to develop my own style in the kitchen.  And, if I had a question, there’s always my friend Mr. Google.

But, I kept a few favorite or specialty books like Puerto Rican Cookery (the English version of Cocina Criolla) which I probably own since its publication in 1975. One of the most dog-earred, food stained and annotated pages in the book is Chicken Fricassée. 

Aha. A lightbulb goes off. Now that I think about it, this may have been my introduction to one of my favorite culinary 3-ways. I love what prunes or raisins do to a savory stewed meat dish, especially when it’s paired with salty capers and olives and a little acid (lime, orange, vinegar). I’ve embraced that technique and presented it in many dishes on FOODalogue.

So, what’s short ribs got to do with chicken fricassée? A borrowing of technique is the answer. That salty-sweet-acidy marriage I love and that is found in so many recipes from Latin America.

Therefore, with homage to Carmen Aboy Valldejuli for showing me the way many years ago, here’s a dish that was inspired by the book.


Finishing Touch: A few sprigs of cilantro.

This recipe serves 2.

Last word. A dish like this is generally served with rice and potatoes, but I could not “in good conscience” double-carb…although I definitely wanted to! :)

*you could substitute orange juice

NOTE: Some recipes found on FOODalogue are offered without ingredient quantities. They're meant as a guide to food pairings and techniques to be experimented with … in your own kitchen … to your own spice and taste levels … to your preferred portion sizes … and to however many people you’re cooking for. A perfect meal has multiple levels of flavor and textures, bright colors and tastes, and healthy(ish) choices. It's all about enjoyment. Enjoy the process, the presentation and the just rewards...eating!


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  1. Liz says:

    I have been looking at short rib recipes lately and not found one that moved me. This definitely does. Thanks for the post. This recipe is a must for me.

  2. I just “cut out” a recipe for Guinness braised short ribs…must be something in the air! Love the flavours Joan!

  3. Charlie Buscemi says:

    I’m so making this

  4. Arlene says:

    I love your cookbook; reminds me of some of mine. I call them “scratch and sniff.” I also put a rating, 1-10, on each one I try. I adore short ribs and your trinity, now that I’m grown up enough to eat capers, sounds wonderful. Great recipe. I would like them with those wonderful fried Spanish potatoes; the ones that are creamy on the inside and crispy on the outside.

  5. This is perfection! I’ll have to try this with my short ribs soon.

  6. Foodiewife says:

    Beautiful. I’m such a fan of braising. The colors, flavors and textures in this must have been orgasmic. TMI? Well done!

  7. Katie says:

    Short ribs are really popular here in Argentina, but they’re always grilled. I’m going to try this recipe out on my in-laws. ;)

  8. norma says:

    It’s so funny I was just looking at my copy of Cocina Criolla, I have both English and Spanish versions. What we call the Bible of Puerto Rican cooking. My two books are falling apart, after all I have had them for close to 40 years.

    These “costillas” look amazingly delicious. Remember to make them for me when I go visit.

  9. Fantastic flavours Joan – thanks for sharing how your mind works. This recipe is right up my street.

  10. It’s funny… i have moved many times too…and lessened my load too, but my cookbooks always come with me. I love my scribbles on them…their stained pages, notes, marks, must-do stickers… they make my kitchen whenever I go (the good ones that is, i do discard the bad ones at every move)

  11. purabi naha says:

    I loved your scribbled, old recipe book because I know, the older books have more authentic recipes in them. Your way of cooking this dish and presenting it is mind-blowing. Loved the look of your blog…very fresh and impactful!

  12. I have moved a lot too, from continent to continent, but my cookbooks are my most precious assets and are still intact; I like this recipe a lot and bitter oranges (boosfeir) are used a lot in Lebanese cooking as well.

  13. I would tuck into a platter like this any day. Thanks for your wonderful b’day wishes. LOL

  14. My life is also a life of constant changes..;sometimes I love that, sometimes I regret it !!! So far, I have kept my cookbooks, but they are becoming a heavy burden..the last time I moeved, the guy from the moving company asked me: “Madame, do you really need so many glasses, dishes, cups…I have never seen someone with so many of those things”
    I know very little about Porto Rican cooking, but judging from what I see…I would soon adopt it!

  15. Peter says:

    I don’t know what I would do with the cookbooks if I moved. Likely I would try taking them with me one more, no? The short ribs are big and MEATY and they flavours developed sound complex, hungryfying!

  16. Anamaris says:

    I am so in love with this. I don’t know who first came up with the idea of adding prunes/raisins to stews, but I am eternally grateful to them. Now, I must confess I don’t share your conflicted feelings regarding double starches. I grew up with some version of rice/beans in coconut milk, right next to a potato or pasta salad every Sunday. No. Guilt. At. All.

  17. bellini says:

    A recipe is a starting point, and gives us the courage to improvise and make it our own. You have given me courage Joan to venture out on my own.

  18. What a gorgeous dish Joan. Really wow factor on a plate.

    We’ve moved more times than I care to think about, including across the ocean and back. My first and favorite cookbook has always been hand-carried by me in a bag along with the family silver. Sounds silly, but I never trusted either one with the movers. Hope you’re having a great 4th of July weekend.

  19. Lori Lynn says:

    Wow Joan – that final photo is stunning! We love our short ribs and this combination of flavors sounds fabulous!
    Hope you all had a wonderful 4th!

  20. Robin Sue says:

    “salty-sweet-acidy marriage” good in food and real life;-) I do love the way you marry your flavors Joan! How is your summer going? So far it seems very delicious!

  21. Okay, it must just be my system, but I don’t see an actual recipe…

    This looks and sounds awesome, what am I doing wrong, lol?



    Perry P. Perkins
    “La Caja China Cooking”
    “La Caja China World”

    • Joan says:

      I changed recipe plug-ins and didn’t realize it took away the formatting on past posts. Thanks for pointing it out. It’s up again.

  22. Joan, I have never made Puerto Rican food. Shame on me. Wish I was your frequent dinner guest.

  23. Jonny says:

    love the stained and annotated cook book. reminds me of an ancient good housekeeping hardback my mother got as a wedding present that is now held together with tape and luck. I must protest your having jettisoned other cook books and perhaps books in general, though. I have moved a lot too, 8 times in the last 10 years, but the one thing that always comes with me are my books.
    As for the dish, well, you know us, and this is right in our wheelhouse. I mean, right there. In love with the agrodolce flavors, but would have, whether in good conscience or not, eaten the potatoes and rice.

  24. Yes. Thank you for pointing me back here. This is extra extra in looks (and I can tell taste).
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  1. […] That said, my first introduction to the term fricassée came many years ago through an unlikely source far from the Champs de Elysse.  I discovered it in a cookbook written by a Puerto Rican chef and wrote about it in Puerto Rico Style Short Ribs. […]

  2. […] pal Joan’s Puerto Rican Style Short Ribs pair well with Torres’ Black Label. Click here for the recipe from […]

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