When it comes to succulent, swoon-worthy beef flavor, nothing beats the humble short rib.

Taking a Ribbing

Written by Marilyn Hawkes Category: Three Bites Issue: November 2016
Group Free

Grassroots Kitchen & Tap
Locations in Phoenix and Scottsdale
Most chefs will agree that short ribs prepared the right way are a thing of beauty – braised until they’re fork-tender and primed for nibbling. For Christopher Collins, chef/owner of Grassroots Kitchen & Tap, short ribs also deliver the truest beef flavor – unlike, he says, a filet, which “tastes like whatever you seasoned it with.” At Grassroots, Collins braises his Topher’s short ribs ($24, pictured) for eight hours, then blankets the beef in a sweet and salty hoisin sauce. When serving, he balances two beautifully marbled ribs atop Lincoln Log-size grilled asparagus spears and plates them with a generous helping of creamy green chile grits. The incongruent Asian and Southern accents work surprisingly well together, as do the diverse textures. “They all complement each other – the soft, the savory, the creamy, the crunchy, the salty and the tender [elements],” Collins says.

Nook Kitchen
Two locations in Phoenix
Nook Kitchen chef/owner Nick LaRosa is a firm believer that “simple is better.” To that end, his braised short rib ($27) recipe runs a little more toward the traditional. He sears the ribs until they form a crust, then braises the beef for six hours in mirepoix (carrots, onions and celery), Burgundy wine and beef stock loaded with garlic, rosemary, peppercorns and bay leaves. The wine-infused ribs rest on a knot of braised-leek mashed Yukon potatoes gussied up with sour cream, butter and heavy cream next to a pile of fresh green beans prepared simply with garlic and olive oil. The whole affair is punctuated with a Malbec reduction sauce made with ginger and orange, plus a little bit of sugar and honey to add natural sweetness to the dish. It’s a comfort-food fever dream.

Café ZuZu at Hotel Valley Ho
6850 E. Main St., Scottsdale
480-421-7997, hotelvalleyho.com
Richard Garcia, chef de cuisine at Hotel Valley Ho’s Café ZuZu, is the man responsible for the restaurant’s most recent iteration of beef short ribs ($28): one large and meaty boneless rib bathed in an ancho chile-corn demi-glace, served on a soft nest of buttery green chile grits with a smattering of coriander-glazed heirloom carrots. Garcia’s recipe also calls for braising the meat with anchos, but the heat infusion never steals the glory from the beefy main attraction. The kitchen pays a premium for Iowa beef that has a bit more marbling, Garcia says. “Some chefs will use other cuts and pretend they’re short ribs.” Not to worry – Garcia is serving the real deal, and it’s a beautiful thing.