Brisket slices on plate with sides of carrots, potatoes, and braising sauce

Chile-braised Brisket

This is adapted from a long-ago Epicurious recipe for short ribs. It’s a complex flavor profile—spiciness from chiles, bitterness from coffee, slight sweetness from maple syrup, and acidity from lime juice—but it blends together in a warming and delicious symphony of taste. The slow cooking brings the brisket to the peak of tenderness. You can serve this over a bed of mashed potatoes or polenta, but it’s also good with crispy smashed potatoes on the side. If there are any leftovers, shred them for tacos or add to mac and cheese for a second tasty meal.

Serves 6-8

  • 4-6 dried red chile pods, seeds and stems removed
  • 2 cups boiling water
  • 1 large onion, cut into chunks
  • 6 whole cloves garlic
  • 3 chipotles in adobo, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons adobo sauce
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 5 pound grass-fed brisket flat
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup coffee

Cover the chile pods with boiling water and allow to sit for about 20 minutes until soft. Drain, reserving the soaking water.

Add the chile pods, onion, garlic, chipotles and adobo sauce, maple syrup, lime juice and kosher salt to the jar of a blender. Puree until smooth.

Heat the oven to 275°. 

Pat dry the brisket and sprinkle with salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Brown the brisket in the oil on both sides. Remove to a plate.

Reduce heat and carefully pour the puree into the pot. It will splatter, so use caution. Stir and deglaze the pot, scraping up all the brown bits. Cook until the puree darkens a bit, about five minutes. Stir in 1 ½ cups of the soaking liquid and the coffee and bring to a boil. Return the brisket, along with any juices, to the pot and bring the liquid to a simmer. It should almost cover the brisket. If not, add a little water.

Cover the pot and place in the oven. Check in 15 minutes to make sure the liquid is at a simmer. If not, adjust the temperature up or down by 15 degrees and check again in 15 minutes. The liquid should never boil.

Leave in the oven for 3-4 hours. When the braising is finished, remove the pot from the oven. At this point you can proceed with the recipe or allow the pot to cool uncovered, and then cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Remove any fat from the pot and proceed with the recipe.

Remove the brisket to a cutting board and keep warm. Return the pot to the heat. Boil the braising liquid until reduced and thickened, about 8 minutes. Slice the brisket and serve with the sauce on the side.

Short ribs with carrot, onion, and herb garnish atop polenta on red plate with glass of red wine

Italian-style Short Ribs

Short ribs are the ultimate comfort food. They scent the house as they’re slow cooking all afternoon, and the combination of tender meatiness and gravy over a bed of mashed potatoes or polenta is perfection, especially on a chilly night. They’re delicious on the day of cooking, but they’re also excellent the next day. The key to any braise is to cook low and slow—the braising liquid should never boil. Instead, it should simmer slowly to break down the collagen and fat in the meat and deliver a falling-apart result.

4 servings

  • 4 pounds grass-fed short ribs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup flour
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 celery stalks, chopped
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 3 cups red wine
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage, chopped
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2-inch piece of Parmigiano Reggiano rind

Heat the oven to 275. 

Pat the short ribs dry with a paper towel. Mix together the salt, black pepper, and flour, and then rub all over the ribs.

Heat the oil until shimmering in a large Dutch oven over high heat. Add the ribs and brown on each side. Remove to a plate and keep warm. 

Turn the heat down to medium and add the carrots, onion, celery, and garlic to the pot. Saute until the vegetables are soft, about 5-7 minutes. Pour the red wine into the pot and deglaze the pan, scraping up the browned bits on the bottom. 

Add the rosemary, thyme, and sage to the pot, then stir in the broth and tomato paste. Add the salt. Return the ribs and their juices to the pot and make sure the braising liquid covers them. If necessary, add a little water. Add the Parmigiano Reggiano rind. Bring to a simmer.

Once the liquid is simmering, cover the pot and place in the oven. After about 15 minutes, check to see if the liquid is still simmering. If not, adjust the temperature by 15 degrees and check again in 15 minutes. The liquid shouldn’t be boiling. Cook for 2 ½-3 hours until the meat is falling from the bone. Remove from the oven.

NOTE: At this point, the ribs can be refrigerated overnight in the braising liquid. When ready to serve, remove any fat that has solidified on the top (with grass-fed there won’t be much) and then gently reheat.

Remove the ribs from the liquid and set aside, keeping warm. Bring the liquid to a boil for several minutes until it has thickened slightly. Adjust the seasonings, if necessary. Return the ribs to the pot.  

Serve over a bed of polenta or mashed potatoes. Pass grated Parmigiano Reggiano to garnish at the table according to taste.