Mild Mexican chiles meld with dark chocolate to make an irresistibly rich seasoning for long-braised beef.
Slow-Braised Short Ribs with Chile-Chocolate Sauce
Tina’s, Dundee, Ore.
When you’re married to a winemaker and also head chef at a restaurant in the heart of Willamette Valley wine country, you naturally give wine a big place in your cooking.
At least, that’s the case with chef Abby McManigle of Tina’s in Dundee, Ore. (760 Hwy. 99W, 503-538-8880, tinasdundee.com ). Opened 21 years ago by David and Tina Bergen, the restaurant is one of the valley’s oldest, drawing local patrons including area winemakers for its Mediterranean cuisine that showcases Northwest ingredients.
McManigle, whose husband is assistant winemaker at Coeur de Terre Vineyard in McMinnville, put her signature version of the braised short ribs on the menu about a year ago. The dish has grown so popular that it stays on the list year-round. She changes the garnishes each season. In winter, it might be a roasted grape salad with parsley. In spring, it’s fingerling potatoes with radishes and pea tendrils.
Her version of an easy, wine-friendly chile sauce, the dish is an effortless one that cooks on its own for a few hours in the oven. The sauce is not especially spicy, because the chocolate’s sweet richness helps balance the moderate heat of the chiles. (Find guajillos and anchos in Mexican groceries and in some well-stocked supermarkets.) Just be sure that the wine you add is a good-quality one. The short ribs pair well with many red wines, McManigle says, so enjoy the finished dish with anything from a pinot noir to a French Bordeaux. “It’s a rich sauce,” she says. “Definitely not mom’s pot roast.”
Tina’s Slow-Braised Short Ribs with Chile-Chocolate Sauce
Adapted with permission from the recipe by Abby McManigle of Tina’s
4 beef short ribs, about 8 ounces each
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons vegetable or canola oil
2 cups good-quality red wine
4 cups beef stock
4 dried guajillo chiles, stemmed and seeded
4 dried ancho chiles, stemmed and seeded
1 cinnamon stick
¼ cup semisweet chocolate
1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
2. Season the short ribs with salt and pepper. In a large Dutch oven, warm two tablespoons of vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add the short ribs and sear, turning frequently, until the meat is browned on all sides. Remove the meat to a plate and discard the drippings in the pan. Place the pan back on the stove over medium heat, add the red wine, and deglaze the pan, scraping up any browned bits.
3. Add the beef stock, guajillo and ancho chiles, cinnamon stick, and chocolate. Place the browned short ribs back in the pan with the stock and seasonings. Cover with a lid, and place in the oven. Cook for 3 to 3½ hours until the meat is tender and beginning to fall off the bone.
4. Remove the meat from the braising liquid and cover it with foil to keep it warm. Remove and discard the cinnamon stick. Using a blender, process the braising liquid until the mixture is a smooth puree, then return the liquid to the pan. (Alternatively, leave the braising liquid in the pan and use an immersion blender to puree it.) Simmer the puree over medium-high heat for about 20 minutes until it reduces to a thick, glossy sauce. Place the short ribs back in the sauce; stir to coat. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Serve the short ribs and sauce over polenta or creamy potatoes.
Photograph by Robbie McClaran 
This article was first published in March 2013. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.