Can’t stand the heat, get away from the grill.
Pronounced as “ta-blee-tahs”
For those of you who may have not been exposed to the amazing food from our friends south of the border, you really need to consider dipping your toe in the water. Growing up around San Antonio I can remember going to the “hole in the wall” Mexican restaurants where my mom, dad, sister and I were the only “gringos” in the place. It was in these small taquerias where my appreciation of their food and culture grew to what it is today….well that and sharing numerous homemade tacos with co-workers and ranch hands.
“So how as a nation can we sit around and eat Mexican food, and drink beer and make friends? That’s the question. If we can do that on a broader scale, I think we’ll come out of it all right.”Sandra Day O’Connor
For me, many trips to the deer lease, backyards cookouts, and camping trips start with a trip to the Mexican grocery store. Now I know in these crazy times we are all practicing the social distancing thing, but we do have to eat. So if you do have to venture out, I encourage you to find the local Mexican market. They are clean, usually less crowded, and the instant I walk through the doors, the smell of Fabuloso and Mexican music playing lifts my spirit and brightens my day. You are instantly ready for a party with food, friends (6 feet apart of course), and beverages.
Now the Mexican meat counters can be pretty overwhelming for you first timers, but do not let this intimidate you. Take me, for example. I know just enough Spanish to get me in trouble, or out of it, but in general if you can count to ten in Spanish, smile, point, say please (por favor) and thank you (gracias), you will be well on your way.
While browsing the meat counter you will usually run across something called Tablitas or Costilla de Res. These are crosscut beef ribs, about 3/8″ thick, and they are amazing. You can usually get them pre-marinated or plain. I prefer to get the plain version. Sometimes they are also known as flanken style ribs (for the gringos). What they call them really doesn’t matter to me, as long as they are well marbled and cut thin…”cut thin to win”…just like cards. Now once you have your clear 5 pound plastic sack of Tablitas, lump charcoal, and a case of cerveza – you are ready to roll.
So here y’all go…Big Tex Tablitas! I call them this because a good Mexican friend of mine said “Maaaaaannnnnnn BIG TEX, you’re more Mexican than me.” Hope y’all enjoy these as much as we did. Cook these on open fire mesquite wood, if possible.
Big Tex Tablitas
- 5 lbs tablitas 3/8" cross cut beef short ribs
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 3 tbsp kosher salt
- 3 tbsp black pepper coarse
- 3 tsp granulated garlic
- Sprinkle brown sugar over beef in a large mixing bowl. Hand mix until all the meat is evenly coated. Let meat sit at room temperature for 15-20 minutes.
- Start your fire (gas, wood, or charcoal). It is always a good idea to have the heat offset to one side so you can control the cook. The temperature is right, for me, when I can hold my hand about 5 inches above cooking surface for about 3 seconds before having to pull away.
- Place Tablitas on the hot grill on direct heat. You will want a total cook time of 3-4 minutes per side depending on thickness. I like to keep them moving. There will be flames, so be careful, but it is these flames that will caramelize the brown sugar and give that light char. If they begin to burn, just move the meat to the cooler side of the grill. You are looking for medium well (which you will almost never hear me say). Use common sense when cooking, if it's burning, simply move it. If it needs more heat, "pour the coals to it." This is how you learn to be the master of your grill.
- When cooked medium well, remove from grill. Let rest for 5 minutes. Then serve.