Chef Kevin Des Chenes: Elevated Comfort Food

kevin des chenes
Chef Kevin Des Chenes is known for his comfort food with a twist.

For more than 20 years, Chef Kevin Des Chenes has been filling hungry bellies all over New England. Starting with the launch of 156 Bistro in Burlington, VT, he has served as executive chef in some of the region’s most prestigious kitchens, including the famous Washington Square Tavern in Boston, MA, and McGrath’s Catering in Newport, RI. 

“Simplicity is best,” he says, when asked to describe his cooking philosophy. “Sometimes it’s not the ingredients that you use, but the ones you don’t use. It is important to edit yourself as a chef and use restraint when necessary, and also use bold flavors when necessary.”

Last year, the author of Beyond My Chef Coat: Cuisine and Cocktails with Chef Kev D shared with Serendipity how to cook the perfect steak. Today, he shares what he refers to as “the perfect elevated comfort food”—a chili recipe that uses short ribs instead of ground beef and makes it easy for home chefs to move from mild to explosive.

Chef Kev D’s Braised Short Rib Chili
Serves: 10

kevin des chenes chili
Take your time cooking this cozy chili and it will be worth the wait.
  • 3 pounds boneless chuck flap meat (or boneless beef short rib)
  • 1 pound carrots
  • 1 pound celery
  • 1 pound Spanish onions
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 16-ounce cans dark red kidney beans
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed San Marzano
  • tomatoes
  • 1 12-ounce bottle of beer (lager or ale)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 4 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1-2 tablespoons red pepper flakes (depending on desired heat)
  • 2 cups red wine
  • 1 6-ounce can tomato paste
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the Beef:

  1. Cut the beef into 5-ounce portions.
  2. Chop half of the carrots, celery and onions to create a mirepoix.
  3. In a Dutch oven, combine the beef, mirepoix,
    red wine, tomato paste, salt and pepper.
  4. Add enough water to cover the ingredients.
  5. Cover and bake at 300˚F for 4 hours.

For the veggies:

  1. Finely dice the remaining mirepoix vegetables.
  2. Heat a skillet over medium heat and add
    the butter. Toss in the diced vegetables and sauté until tender.
  3. Deglaze with the beer and let cook for 8 to 10 minutes.

To assemble:

  1. Remove the Dutch oven and remove 2/3 of the braising liquid.
  2. Add the chili powder, beans, bay leaves, tomatoes, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.
  3. Place the Dutch oven on the stovetop over medium heat.
  4. Add sautéed mirepoix to Dutch oven.
  5. Allow chili to cook and reduce for about 1½ hours. Stir and taste often, adding salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste.
  6. When done, remove the bay leaves and garnish with favorite toppings (avocado, cheese, sour cream, bread, etc.)
  7. Serve and enjoy!