Smoked Beef Short Rib Tamales with Jalapeno Cheddar Grits


Source: Chris Grove

Handmade tamales made with pecan wood smoked beef short ribs, served on a bed of jalapeno cheddar grits and topped with a rustic fire-roasted tomato sauce. In lieu of smoking the ribs, you could buy beef ribs or brisket from your local BBQ joint and use it to make this recipe.

Method: Indirect grilling


  • 3.5 to 4 lb USDA Prime beef short rib
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground dried green chile (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil (or other high temperature cooking oil)
  • 24 dried corn husks, soaked (sold in the Latino section of the grocery store)
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro or green onion
  • For the tamale filling: 2 cups smoked beef rib, cubed (about 2 ribs), ½ cup black bean and corn salsa
  • For the masa dough: 4 cups corn masa flour, 1 cup lard( heated), 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1.5 teaspoon salt, 1.5 cups warm water, 1.5 cups beef stock (warm)
  • For the grits: 1 cup yellow corn grits, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1 teaspoon dried onion flake (optional but recommended), 1 fire roasted jalapeno (peeled, seeded, and finely diced), 2 ounces cheddar (shredded), 2 cups chicken stock, 2 cups water
  • For the tomato butter sauce: 10 ounces grape tomatoes (or cherry tomatoes), ½ teaspoon dried oregano, ¼ teaspoon granulated garlic, 1 tablespoon oil, 2 tablespoons finely diced onion, 2 cloves garlic (peeled and chopped), 2 tablespoons butter, Kosher salt to taste (about ½-1 teaspoon)


  1. Smoke the beef short ribs. Remove the membrane, coat the ribs with oil, and season them all over with the salt, pepper, garlic, and green chile (if using). Loosely cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 12 hours. Preheat a smoker to 275°f using lump charcoal and pecan wood. Remove ribs from plastic and smoke until they have a dark color and reach an internal temperature of 165°f, about 3-4 hours. Wrap with butcher paper and continue cooking until the rack is tender at an internal temperature over 200°f, about a total cook time of 6-8 hours. Reset in a warm cooler for 1-2 hours.
  2. Make the tamale filling. Pulse 2 cups of the beef short rib and the black bean & corn salsa in a food processor and pulse until minced together, about 10 pulses.
  3. Make the masa dough. Place corn masa flour, warm water, and stock in a large bowl and knead for 1-2 minutes. Heat lard to liquid and whisk in the salt and baking powder. Add this lard mixture to the flour mixture a little at a time, constantly kneading until it is all combined.
  4. Assemble the tamales. For each tamale, take 1 corn husk and spread about 1/3 cup of the masa dough flat across the top half of the corn husk. Add about 2 tablespoons of the meat mixture in the center. Roll up the ends to wrap the husk/dough forming a tube around the meat. Fold the empty lower half of the corn husk up and tie with an 8” piece of cooking twine to hold together.
  5. Steam the tamales. Preheat a grill to 400°f. Place the tamales in a steamer pot that has already simmering water in the bottom. Place the covered steamer pot on the grill, close the lid, and steam the tamales for 45-50 minutes.
  6. Make the grits. Heat the water, chicken stock, salt, and dried onion flake until the water is boiling. Stir in the grits and fire roasted jalapeno, reduce heat and simmer slowly for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in the shredded cheddar in batches until fully melted. Taste for seasoning.
  7. Make the sauce. Toss the tomatoes with oil, oregano, and garlic. Place on a few skewers and grill 2-3 minutes per side to get char marks. Remove. Preheat a grill-safe skillet over the fire. Melt butter and saute the onions for 2-3 minutes. Add the grilled tomatoes, garlic, and a few pinches of salt. Cook, stirring or tossing frequently, until the tomatoes break down and the tomato juice starts to thicken, about 3-5 minutes. Taste for seasoning.
  8. Serve. Ladle a cup of the grits onto a plate and top with 2 unwrapped tamales. Drizzle a spoonful of the fire roasted tomato sauce. Garnish with green onion or cilantro.

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