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Cocoa-braised short ribs with chestnut puree and red wine gravy

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1 tablespoon cocoa

1 tablespoon sugar

3/4 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon fresh-cracked black pepper

3 pounds beef short ribs, about 2½ inches in length

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 to 3 celery stalks, cut into chunks

3 medium carrots, cut into chunks

1 pound onions, each quartered

3 cups fruity wine, such as Bordeaux or Pinot Noir

2 cups beef stock

2 sprigs fresh thyme

2 bay leaves

½ pound chestnuts, cooked and peeled (see Note)

½ cup dried cherries

1/3 cup boiling water

1 tablespoon butter

½ ounce dark chocolate

Combine the rub ingredients and rub the ribs with the mixture. Allow ribs to marinate in the refrigerator for at least eight, or up to 24, hours.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Remove ribs from the refrigerator. Heat vegetable oil on medium-high heat in a large Dutch oven or roasting pan.

Working in batches, sear the ribs on both sides; set aside on paper towels. Lower heat to medium, add celery, carrots and onions and cook, allowing to caramelize (about 6 minutes).

Return ribs to pan, and add wine. Bring to a boil, reducing by half. Add stock and bring up to a simmer. Add thyme and bay leaves and stir. Cover and place in oven for 2½ hours, or until fork-tender.

Remove ribs from pan, set aside and keep warm. Strain jus, discarding solids, and re-serve.

Raise the oven temperature to 350 degrees. Spread chestnuts on baking sheet and bake until heated through, about 5 minutes.

Place the dried cherries in a small bowl and top with boiling water. Allow to reconstitute for 10 minutes. Strain cherries, reserving the water, and chop.

Puree hot chestnuts in food processor with the cherry liquid and butter. Season with a pinch of salt and fresh ground pepper. Puree until smooth.

Bring braising jus to a simmer in a small saucepan. Whisk in 1 tablespoon of the chestnut puree. Add the chocolate and remove from heat, stirring until melted and combined.

To serve, spread chestnut puree evenly on each of 4 plates and top with ribs. Spoon red wine gravy over meat and sprinkle with dried cherries.

Note: Pre-cooked chestnuts, such as Melissa's brand, may be found in well-stocked grocery stores or at

Adapted from James Gottwald,

Rockit Bar & Grill

Nutrition facts per serving: 1,754 calories, 139 g fat, 58 g saturated fat, 267 mg cholesterol, 46 g carbohydrates, 51 g protein, 1,488 mg sodium, 1 g fiber