Comfort Food Secrets

By Beacon Staff

As culinary arts instructor at Flathead Valley Community College, it is my great pleasure to bring to you a little taste of your local college in the first Flathead Beacon issue of each month.

I’d like to begin by introducing you to our culinary arts program. Our students undergo a two-year intensive program encompassing academic study and hands-on lab exercises in our instructional kitchen where they learn professional skills from proper sanitation and knife techniques to bread and pastry baking and international cooking. Our students are extraordinarily talented. Many of them grew up in the valley, while others come from across the globe.

I would like to share with you one of my best winter comfort food secrets that brings one-pot meals to a new level. Braising is a slow, gentle process using moist heat to cook foods in a small amount of liquid inside a closed container over a long period of time, resulting in tender, delicious dishes with rich flavors. Beef short ribs with daikon radish and shitake is one of my favorites:


3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 pounds of short ribs, trimmed of excess fat
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
2 large red onions peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1/2 pound shitake mushrooms cut into 1/2 inch slices
1 [2-inch] piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely grated
2 star anise
1 1/2 teaspoons ground Szechuan pepper corns
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
2 cups of beef stock or low sodium canned beef stock
2 tablespoons fermented hot black bean paste
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
2 pounds daikon radish, peeled, trimmed, and cut into ½ inch- thick slices
1 bunch scallions trimmed and sliced
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
6 sprigs of cilantro, leaves only

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 275 degrees.

In a medium cast-iron pot or Dutch oven, warm two tablespoons of olive oil over high heat. Season short ribs with salt and pepper. Sear until golden brown on all sides for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove meat, and pour out all but two tablespoons of fat from the pot.

Add onions, gingerroot and mushrooms. Sauté, stirring until softened for five to six minutes. Add star anise, Szechuan peppers and cardamom. Stir for one minute. Add beef stock, bean paste, soy sauce and daikon radish. Return short ribs to pot. Bring to a simmer.

Cover pot and transfer to oven. Braise for four hours or until meat is tender, checking occasionally and spooning off excess fat that rises to surface. If sauce is too thin or is not flavored enough, ladle most off into another pot, and simmer until thick and intensified. Then add back to first pot.

In a medium skillet over medium heat, warm remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add scallions and garlic. Cook until softened (one to two minutes.) Sprinkle scallions mixture and cilantro over meat, and serve.

I would love to how you enjoyed the meal and answer any questions you may have. Feel free to email me at Bon Appétit!

Side dish is a place where local instructors, chefs and foodies can share ideas, tips and recipes. If you would like to become a contributor, please e-mail

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