January's Can't-Miss Dish

By Ellen Bhang · 01/04/2021

Looking for a no-fail, mouthwatering, gonna-tell-your-friends-about-it plate? Each month, Boston Globe columnist Ellen Bhang highlights the dish you need to try right now—and something to sip alongside it.

On the plate: Glazed Short Rib

Where to find it: Chef Will Gilson can tell you firsthand that opening restaurants during a pandemic is not for the faint of heart. Last fall, he launched two new ventures in East Cambridge: Cafe Beatrice, an all-day coffee spot, and The Lexington, an American brasserie featuring a rooftop bar and a patio with a view. Both establishments anchor Cambridge Crossing, a sprawling retail and residential development, much of which is still being built. Having powered through setbacks and construction delays due to COVID-19, he can’t wait for the arrival of spring.

“If I could get a chest tattoo that says, ‘Make it to May,’ and stare at that every single morning, that’s what I’d probably do,” quips Gilson.

It’s good that the chef-owner, already known for Puritan & Company in Inman Square, has emerged with his sense of humor intact. He’s forging ahead, cooking comforting classics—currently available to-go and for delivery—to sustain us through winter.

Notes on the nosh: The Lexington’s Glazed Short Rib is plated with silky braised leeks and honey-roasted carrots, nestled on the creamiest, dreamiest whipped potatoes. All of that hearty goodness is thoughtfully packaged in a sturdy, oven-safe tray that makes take-away and reheating a snap.

Gilson sears well-marbled beef short ribs in a hot pan, then marinates those cuts in a bath of red wine, gluten-free soy sauce, beef stock, and balsamic vinegar. (That marinade is later infused with herbs like anise-scented tarragon, then reduced to a rich, sweet glaze for the beef.) After the ribs braise overnight, the chef presses them between two heavy skillets to firm them up. Doing so, he explains, prevents the meat from falling apart before you tuck in with your fork.

Sip alongside: The dish’s herbaceous flavors echo subtle scents of licorice in a lush red wine from Slovenia. That 2017 bottle of cabernet sauvignon, available for $62, is crafted by winemaker Aleš Kristančič at Movia, his family’s estate and winery in Goriška Brda, the hilly vine-growing region that is known as Collio on the Italian side of the border. The wine offers generous blackberry fruitiness, palate-enlivening acidity, and a touch of oak—just what you want between bites of warm, saucy short rib.

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