The Dish: Jose Garces' Short Rib Mac and Cheese

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Thursday, November 16, 2023
The Dish: Iron Chef Jose Garces' short rib mac and cheese
The Dish: Iron Chef Jose Garces' short rib mac and cheese

PHIALDELPHIA (WPVI) -- Thanksgiving is a real "treat yourself" kind of holiday, and that means we can indulgence to the next level.

When I asked Iron Chef Jose Garces to share one of his favorites, he invited us into his new East Falls culinary space, Shokutsu, to make his decadent short rib mac and cheese.

This dish takes time and patience, but it's worth every second and, every calorie - we promise.

"It's one of my things," Garces says. "I do Latin side dishes, but I always do mac and cheese as well. This is my riff on it."

Now, his delicious riff does require time. It's that special "holiday dish" level of devotion.

"Have a glass of wine, put some music on, whatever you need to do to relax, and let the process just kind of like be," Garces says.

You start with the short rib, coat it with olive oil salt and pepper, and get a nice sear in a hot pan

"You're just looking to get a little caramelization on each side," Garces says.

You remove the meat and add onions and garlic to that same pan.

"You have to let them like sweat and release all their flavor," he says.

While that's going, make the cheese sauce.

You mix milk and heavy cream and heat it over a low flame with some herbs and aromatics to give it flavor.

Once it starts simmering, it's done. Now, strain it and add it to a flour and butter rue, and whisk in your cheese quartet.

"We have American, cheddar, gruyere, and cooper sharp," he says.

"This this is definitely high-end cheese sauce," he laughs. "Luxury cheese sauce."

Meanwhile, the onions and garlic are ready, so we pop the meat back in with tomato paste, spices, chilis and stock.

Let it simmer for a bit and put it in the oven for three hours at 300 degrees.

"I think there's something comforting about braised beef," he says. "You know that time went into it."

Once it's done, shred it and it's time to assemble.

You mix the cheesy goodness into your cooked pasta, then add that short rib and cover with a nice bread crumb topping, Bake for about 20 more minutes and enjoy!

Click here for the recipe for the cheese sauce, breadcrumbs and the full dish.

Now, if you just want to eat it, Jose will make it for you.

It's one of the dishes he offers on Cook Unity, a meal delivery service where top chefs across the country do the cooking, and you just do the heating and serving.

Garces first moved to Philadelphia 23 years ago, and built a culinary empire that started with Amada in Old City, a nod to his grandmother.

"It's really what started my career," he says, "and so it's really special."

Garces calls Amada his "stalwart," and he's planning to expand that brand.

His Buena Onda taco eatery is growing too.

Garces' food empire goes well beyond his amazing restaurants, and well beyond Philadelphia.

"We sold our first franchise to the Washington DC area," he explains.

The James Beard Award winner and Iron Chef was recently appointed to President Biden's Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition.

"Not bad for a kid from Chicago, from Ecuadorian parents, to make it to that juncture," he says. "I'm super honored."

And then, there's his commitment to our community. For the past 10 years, his Garces Family Foundation has been helping Philadelphia's immigrant population.

"They don't have a lot of access to health, nutrition and education," he explains, "so we want to provide those programs."