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For Valentine’s Day, an all chocolate menu to cook at home – part one

Enjoy this special chocolate dish at home for a memorable Valentine's Day
Enjoy this special chocolate dish at home for a memorable Valentine's Day
Salt Creek Grille

Executive Chef Fabian Quiros of Princeton’s Salt Creek Grille has put together a delicious all-chocolate menu that may surprise you with two of its chocolate elements. First, he uses cocoa like a spice, adding it to a rub for short ribs. THEN he braises the short ribs in chocolate beer(!) to get an even richer chocolate flavor. The short ribs are not served as is, but rather in a more delicate, Valentine-appropriate way - on top of Grilled Gruyere Crostini.

Chef Quiros rounds out the menu with an easy (really!) Chocolate Soufflé garnished with Chocolate Covered Strawberries and a Chocolate Martini.(Yum!) Today, I’ll share the Crostini and Short Ribs recipe. Next time I’ll give you his sweet recipes.

Chocolate Braised Short Ribs Crostini (makes 8 crostini)
(adapted from Chef Fabian Quiros)

The seasoned short ribs are braised with vegetables and stock the day before you need them. Then you blend the sauce and add the meat back in to heat up before topping the crostini. You can freeze the leftover short ribs in their sauce.

• 8 oz, recipe Chocolate Braised Short Ribs (recipe to follow)
• 8 slices of a French baguette
• 1 cup grated Gruyere
• ½ cup shaved Parmesan
• ¼ cup Caramelized Onions (recipe to follow)
• For garnish: micro arugula

For the Crostini:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Meanwhile heat short ribs and sauce in medium saucepan on the stove. Place sliced bread in one layer on sheet pan. Top with grated Gruyere. Place in preheated oven and bake until crispy.

To assemble, top toasted crostini with short ribs and caramelized onions. Garnish with micro arugula.

Chocolate Braised Short Ribs

• 1 tsp. ground fennel seeds, toasted
• 1 tsp. ground chipotle powder
• 3 tsps. cocoa powder
• 1/4 cup flour
• 4 x 12 oz. boneless short ribs
• 1 rib celery, chopped coarsely
• 2 carrots, peeled and chopped coarsely
• 2 Spanish onions, chopped coarsely
• 1 fennel bulb, sliced
• 4 garlic gloves, peeled and smashed
• 2 tbls. olive oil
• 2 cups chocolate beer (see note below)
• 4 cups low sodium chicken stock
• 4 bay leaves
• 4 thyme sprigs
• black pepper and salt to taste

Preheat oven to 375°F. Stir together the tasted fennel seeds, chipotle powder, cocoa and flour to make a rub. Toss ribs in the rub. In a heavy sauté pan, sear ribs over medium high heat until brown, Set aside.

Toss vegetables lightly in olive oil and place in roasting pan and roast in preheated oven for 20 minutes until vegetables are lightly browned. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan stir together chocolate beer, chicken stock, bay leaves and thyme. Bring to the boil and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes to reduce a bit.

Add seared ribs (meaty side down) to browned vegetables in roasting pan. Pour over boiling stock mixture. Liquid should be enough to come halfway up the side of the pan. (Add more chicken stock if necessary.) Cover tightly with foil, place pan in oven and cook at 275°F. for 3 hours until the meat is very tender and falling apart. Check hourly to see that liquids continue to cover the bottom of the pan, stir lightly and turn ribs. Place mixture in large bowl and cool before refrigerating.

Refrigerate overnight. Take off top layer of fat and discard. Remove meat from bowl and shred into small pieces. Set aside. Place remaining mixture in saucepan to heat up just a bit. Strain the liquid from the vegetables and place the liquid back in the saucepan. Puree the vegetables in a food processor and stir enough of the puree into the cooking liquid to make a thickened sauce. Reduce to desired consistency. (The sauce should be thick enough to coat the meat.) Discard remaining vegetables. Remove from heat and whisk in 1/2 ounce grated unsweetened chocolate and 1 teaspoon unsalted butter. Taste for seasoning. Add meat back in and keep warm until ready to use over low heat.

Caramelized Onions

2 red onions, sliced
1 tsp. olive oil
1 tsp. butter
1 clove garlic, peeled and chopped

In a heavy bottom pan over medium heat, stir together all the ingredients. Cook until onions soften and then brown, stirring regularly. Set aside.

Chocolate beer can be found at Princeton’s Wegmans. Find more information here.

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