Short Rib Chili with Roasted Poblano Peppers

Winner, 2014 Willowsford Chili Cook-Off

For the Short Ribs

  • 4 lbs’ beef short ribs (look for the ones with the most meat)
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2+ cans of Corona light
  • 1 tablespoon Mexican oregano
  • 2 bay leaves

Brown the beef:  Make sure the meat is dry, and sprinkle with Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Heat 3 Tablespoons canola oil in a dutch oven or stockpot to medium-high.  You may have to use 2 separate pots.  When the oil is heated, add the short ribs and sear them on all sides for 5 minutes per side.

Add flavor and braise:  Remove seared short ribs from pot and add red onion. Reduce heat to low-medium.  Season with Kosher salt and saute for 5 minutes.  Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes, stirring. Add beer and stir, loosening up any brown bits stuck on the bottom of the pan. Add mexican oregano and bay leaves, and return short ribs to the pot. Make sure the short ribs are almost completely submerged by the beer and add more if you need to.

Bring pot to a boil, then turn down heat to maintain a simmer. Cover with lid and simmer for 3-4 hours, until the meat is fork tender and slides easily off the bone. Remove short ribs from pan and let cool, and then shred the meat with your fingers, removing as much fat as possible.

For the Chili

  • 6 poblano peppers whole
  • 2 red bell peppers, diced
  • 3 medium red onions, diced
  • 2 jalapeños, seeds removed, finely chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ lb+ lean ground beef
  • 1 Tablespoon each:  garlic powder, onion powder, ancho chile powder, regular chile powder, Mexican oregano
  • 2 teaspoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 bottle of Corona light
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 3 x 15 oz  fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 x 14 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 x 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 3 x 15 oz cans of beans – 1 each of black, pinto and kidney 

 Roast the poblano peppers:  Turn on your oven broiler to low.   Put the peppers  on a foil-lined baking sheet and drizzle them with canola oil and season with Kosher salt. Place baking sheet on top rack in your oven and let peppers broil, about 7 minutes per side, turning with tongs. Make sure you get them fully black & blistered on all sides. Remove from oven, put them in a bowl, and cover with plastic wrap for 10 minutes.  This will loosen the skin.  Peel off the skin and ditch the seeds (unless you want ridiculously spicy chili).  Chop into 1/2″ pieces.

Saute the veggies and beef:  While poblanos are roasting, heat 3 tablespoons canola oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Once hot, add red bell peppers, red onions, and jalapeños, and season generously with Kosher salt.  Saute until the vegetables are softened, usually 7-10 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1-2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add ground beef, stirring and breaking it down into bite-sized pieces as it cooks. Season with Kosher salt.

Bring it all together:  Once the ground beef is browned, add in all the spices (garlic powder, onion powder, chile powders, cocoa powder, Mexican oregano, black pepper, and cumin), stir and cook for about 1 minute. Add beer, chicken stock, fire roasted tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, and beans. Stir and season with Kosher salt. Bring chili to almost a boil, then turn down heat to maintain a simmer and let cook for as long as possible, at least 3 hours.  Add in the diced roasted poblano peppers and shredded braised short rib meat once they are done cooking.

Best bet is to cook the chili in the morning, let it simmer for 4-5 hours, then shut off the heat for a couple of hours.  You can even put the pot outside if it’s cold.   Then an hour before it’s time to heat, put it back on the stove and re-heat.


Lobster Burgers

The Lobster Burger

Inspired by Michel Richard Citronelle lobster burgers (as close as I can come to replicating).  Makes 4 burgers.   These are not the mayonnaise-y lobster rolls you might associate with the Northeast U.S.  More like pure lobster bliss on a hamburger bun.  Working with lobster meant can be time-consuming and expensive, but anyone who has ever had these at Citronelle will tell you it’s worth it.

  • 4 1b lobsters (1 lb lobster= ¼ lb lobster meat)
  • 1/4 pound scallops
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 large beefsteak tomato, cut into 4 slices
  • 1 clove garlic, sliced
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 teaspoons mayonnaise
  • 1/4 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon peeled and grated ginger
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 brioche buns

Cook the lobster meat
Preferred method:  Using a large, heavy chef’s knife, slice the live lobsters down the middle.  Remove the tails and claws (including knuckles).  Cook the claws first, for 6 minutes in a large pot of boiling salted water.  Transfer to ice bath.  Then boil the tails for 4 minutes and transfer to ice bath.  If you really love working with lobster shells, you can cook the legs, too.  The leg meat is good for binding the burgers, but this adds a lot of time and effort for not a lot of extra meat.

If you aren’t comfortable stabbing a live animal to death, then just boil the lobsters whole, and then transfer to ice bath.  When cool, remove the tails and claws, discarding the bodies.

Extract the meat from the knuckles, claws and tails.  Chop into various-sized pieces, some big chunks as well as some smaller pieces to help with binding.  Set aside and keep cool.

Make the lobster patties
In a food processor, puree the scallops for a few seconds until smooth. Stir in 2 tablespoons of milk. Fold the scallop mixture into the lobster meat. Season with salt and pepper.  Optional – fold in some sliced basil or scallions for color.  Divide the mixture evenly and mold into 4 lightly packed patties.  Keep cold until ready to cook and eat.

Roasted Tomato slices
Preheat the oven to 275 degrees. Set the tomato slices on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Sprinkle with garlic and sugar, season with salt and pepper, and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil (Basil oil if you like). Cook for 10-15 minutes and cool.

Ginger mayonnaise
In a bowl, combine the mayonnaise, soy sauce, and ginger.  Keep cool until ready to eat.

Cook the burgers
In a pan over medium heat, sautee the patties in 1 tablespoon of olive oil until golden, about 5 minutes on each side.

Split the buns and sprinkle with the remaining olive oil. Lightly toast. Serve the burgers with a slice of tomato and the ginger mayonnaise.

No-Ricotta Lasagna

This is an evolution of an old family recipe for lasagna.  The key twist is that it skips the typical ricotta-based cheese mixture, and instead uses a bechamel sauce coupled with Fontina and Mozzarella cheeses. The result is a creamier lasagna with nice  sausage slices to add some zing.

This recipe makes 2 large pans of lasagna, enough for many people…

Red Sauce

  • 2 large yellow Onions, diced
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 2 T salt
  • 1 T cracked pepper
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 4 28 oz cans Crushed tomatoes (San Marzano)
  • 2 lbs Spicy Italian sausage (Turkey or pork)
  • Dried herbs – Oregano, Basil, Parsley

Brown the sausage, remove and drain, but leave bits on pan bottom.  Saute the onions and garlic in the same pan.  Add tomatoes and herbs, salt, pepper, and sugar.  When sausages have cooled, slice thinly and add to sauce.  Simmer to incorporate flavors for 2 hours or more.

Bechamel Sauce

  • 2 cups Butter
  • 2 cups Flour
  • 1-2 quarts lowfat Milk
  • Pinch of nutmeg

Make a light roux by melting butter then gradually adding in flour.  After whisking for a few minutes, begin adding milk, continuing to whisk until it is a consistent texture.  Add nutmeg at end to season.

Other components

  • 2 lbs Fontina cheese, grated
  • 1.5 lbs Mozzarella Cheese, grated
  • 2/3 lb Parmesagn-Reggiano, freshly grated
  • Good lasagna noodles – I prefer the square delverde no boil type


Spray bottom and sides of pan with Pam to make cleanup easier.  Put a little sauce on bottom, then noodles, then red sauce, a little bechamel, and fontina and mozzarella cheeses. Repeat with noodles, red sauce, béchamel and cheese.  Continue to layer, finishing with cheeses on top.  Sprinkle a little bit of the grated parmesagn to finish.

Cover with aluminum foil sprayed with Pam to keep it from sticking.  It takes a good 45-60 minutes at 375 degrees.  Let sit 15 minutes before serving.