We understand from our Colombian friend Juan Camilo (who longtime readers may remember from this podcast) that the Bogota nightlife is on a par with any of the world’s party capitals, and that when it comes to late night boozing, the aguardiente-loving natives of Colombia’s capital are among the most experienced. It should come as no surprise then that they have also spent some time figuring out effective cures to the inevitable DT’s the morning after — something that I am sure Charlie Sheen, with his well-known enthusiasm for the odd briefcase of Colombia’s most famous export, already knows about.
Across South America, hangover cures tend towards the liquid — Peru’s famous leche de tigre (“tiger’s milk”, the citrusy liquor leftover from ceviche preparation) and the shrimp and coconut milk stews of Brazil — and are more similar to chicken soup as a cure-all than the meat and starch heavy plates bleary-eyed North Americans and Brits swear by. In caldo de costilla, Colombians have a dish that may well raise the dead as easily as cure the hungover. An intense beefy broth surrounding hunks of braised short ribs and root vegetables, and garnished with lime juice, chopped onions and, occasionally, aji (a spicy vinegary condiment), it restores dehydrated cells, fills the growling belly, and enlivens the palate in one fell swoop.
As a devoted family man himself, Charlie Sheen might appreciate the nutritive value of such a soup on a weeknight as much as after a 7-day Vegas bender, and indeed, such were the circumstances of our own enjoyment of it recently (the former, not the latter). Worn thin by the fearsome demands of work and family, this soup helped us pull body and soul together on a Monday night and gird ourselves for another grinding week. We may not have leaped out of bed the next morning, but that had more to do with us not having been on a drug called Charlie Sheen than anything attributable to the soup.
- 1-2lbs/0.5-1kilo beef short ribs
- 2 large floury potatoes, peeled and cut into large chunks
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1 inch/2cm chunks
- 2 large sticks celery, cut into 1 inch/2cm chunks
- 1 large Spanish onion, 1/2 sliced roughly, 1/2 finely diced
- 1 quart / 1 liter good, pref. organic, beef broth
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- (optional) 4 tablespoons Colombian aji
- lime wedges
- In a pressure cooker or large pot, heat oil to medium high and brown short ribs will on all sides, making sure to get a good color on the bones too.
- Toss in carrots, celery and onion, and pour in beef broth.
- Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to a simmer. (If you’re using a pressure cooker, attach lid and allow to come to the right pressure before reducing heat to low.)
- Allow to simmer for at least two hours (or if using a pressure cooker, 35minutes will do) or until short ribs are fall apart tender.
- In another pot, bring abundant salted water to the boil and add potatoes. Boil until tender, about 12 minutes, and then drain and reserve.
- Rinse the finely diced onion under cold water for a minute or so to remove its tanginess, and drain.
- When soup is ready, serve in large bowls with reserved potato and garnished with diced onion, chopped cilantro and lime wedges. Hangover optional.