#CookLike Chef Johnny Rodriguez: Short Rib Mac and Cheese

Chef Johnny Rodriguez, Executive Chef of Scott's at the Ascott BGC, is all about comfort food. When I first dined at Scott’s, I understood why he put his personal favorites in the menu: when you put something you love, something you enjoy eating, something relatable, people would feel that you’re cooking from the heart. It’s like getting a hug, but through smells and tastes and colors. Sharing your favorites with others is such an infectious mood—don’t you think?

Chef Johnny has worked in 5-star hotels and restaurants around the world, and it is no surprise that Scott’s menu is a collection of dishes from different cuisines. There’s the delicious Prawn Laksa, always a crowd favorite; the Buttered Chicken that captures the Indian essence; and of course, with chef Johnny bearing Mexican blood, the Surf and Turf Quesadilla, which has zesty shrimps and delicious spare ribs. But I must say that my favorites are the glorious Lechon Kawali and Strawberry Shortcake, which I insist that everyone must try (one of my favorite cakes).

In this installment of #CookLike, we will attempt to be a little bit like Chef Johnny. We will try to whip up a hearty, comforting dish at our home kitchen—but with, you know, added finesse and some nice ingredients. Think of it somewhat like bringing a hotel dish to your house. After all, we need to indulge every now and then, right?

The below dish looks so tasty and indulgent that I vow to try making it myself as soon as I get hold of some good cheese and short ribs. Enjoy!

Short Rib Mac and Cheese


Short ribs:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 kg bone-in beef short ribs
1 small yellow onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 ½ cups red wine
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 ¼ cups beef broth
4 sprigs fresh thyme
salt and pepper

Mac and cheese:

400 g penne
4 tbsp unsalted butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
250 g white cheddar cheese, freshly grated
120 g gruyere cheese, freshly grated
1 tsp chili powder
½ tsp paprika
¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
salt and pepper
fresh thyme sprigs for garnish


Short ribs:

1. Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium-high heat, add the olive oil. Season the short ribs with salt and pepper, and add the ribs to the skillet. Sear the ribs on all sides for about a minute. Remove, then place the ribs in the crockpot.
2. Add the onion, garlic, red wine, tomato paste, beef broth, and thyme sprigs to the crockpot. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and cook on medium-high for 4 hours. Alternatively, you can use a regular pot to slow-cook the meat, covered, on low fire for 4 -5 hours—until it’s as tender as you would like.
3. Once the short ribs are done cooking, they should easily fall off the bone. Remove the ribs from the crockpot, discard any of the fat and the bones, and use two forks to shred the ribs into pieces. You can either put the shredded short ribs back into the crockpot to keep warm, or transfer them to a bowl while you prepare the mac and cheese.

Mac and cheese:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a bowl, and cook the pasta. I recommend undercooking the pasta by 2-3 minutes, because it's going to cook more in the oven. Drain the pasta and set aside.
3. In a large pot, melt the 4 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Add the flour, whisking until combined to create a roux. Cook for 1 to 2 minutes until it's golden and fragrant. Pour in the milk, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens, and cook about 3-5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low, and add in the all the cheddar and 2 ounces of the gruyere cheese, stir until the cheese melts. Season with chili powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Stir in the cooked pasta and the shredded short ribs.
4. Transfer the mixture to a cast-iron skillet or a baking dish. Top with the panko breadcrumbs and the remaining gruyere cheese. Bake until the top is golden and the cheese is melted, about 15-20 minutes. Garnish with fresh thyme!

Scott's is offering food trays to-go featuring a variety of themes that all speak about tastiness and comfort. Starting at PhP920 net, the food trays are good for 3 to 4 persons. The themes are Wings & Things (American), Chinese Takeout, Pinoy Boodle, and The Italian Job. Place your orders by calling +632.8860.9888 or +63905.272.0052.

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What do you think about Chef Johnny's recipe?

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