Have you heard of Chef Matty Matheson? Perhaps if you’re Canadian you have. He is a chef and author, and quite a character. It’s hard not to think of bad-boy Anthony Bourdain when you read his story, who was raised in Ontario, Canada. There’s not much information on his early life, but at one point he was a roadie for a heavy metal band. After extreme drug and alcohol use, a heart attack at 29 led him to the straight and narrow.
He became a YouTube star in Canada, which surprises me, because his voice is quite annoying. Think a high-pitched Roseanne Barr. He also started his own channel online and is considered an “internet personality.”
I own the cookbook on the left, below, published in 2020, he’s more recently published A Cookbook, in 2022.
From Amazon: This is a very personal cookbook, full of essays and headnotes that share Matty’s life—from growing up in Fort Erie, exploring the wonders of Prince Edward Island, struggling and learning as a young chef in Toronto, and, eventually, his rise to popularity as one of the world’s most recognizable food personalities. His no-nonsense approach to food makes these recipes practical enough for all, while his creativity will entice seasoned cooks. This book is like cooking alongside Matty, sharing stories that are equal parts heartwarming and inappropriate while helping you cook dishes that are full of love.
According to the chef, this recipe is “100% ripped off the barbecue beef and queso from Valentina’s Tex Mex BBQ in Austin, Texas. It’s a bit funny to me that I referred to a Canadian’s cookbook to make Texas barbecue. And honestly, I’ll never make that mistake again. I had to make so many changes to this recipe to make it actually be what it’s supposed to be, or my interpretation, thereof.
Pickled Hot Pepper Queso and Braised Beef Ribs
For the Braised Short Ribs:
4 1/2 pounds beef short ribs, cut crosswise into 2” pieces
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 yellow onion, diced
1/3 cup diced celery
2/3 cup diced green bell peppers
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 1/2 cups Mexican lager
5 sprigs thyme
1/2 cup jalapeño chiles, charred, peeled, chopped
4 cups beef and bone marrow stock
1 teaspoon Tabasco sauce
For the Queso:
1 pound American cheese
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup grated sharp Cheddar
1/2 cup grated Monterey Jack
1/2 cup grated Oaxaca cheese
1/4 cup yellow mustard
1/4 cup pickled hot peppers plus 3 tablespoons hot pepper liquid
2/3 cup finely chopped white onion
2 scallions, thinly sliced
1 cup chopped cilantro
1/3 cup pickled hot peppers
1 bag tortilla chips
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Season the short ribs with 1 teaspoon of the salt and pepper. Heat the vegetable oil in a wide-bottom Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Working in 2 batches, brown the short ribs on all sides, about 8 minutes per batch; transfer to a plate. After the last batch, pour out about 70% of the fat from the pot.
Add the onions, celery, and green bell peppers to the pot and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until the onion starts to brown, about 10 minutes. Add the tomato paste, stir to coat the vegetables, then deglaze with the beer and reduce by half.
Return the short ribs to the pan with any juices from the resting place and add the thyme and charred jalapeños. Add stock to barely cover the top of the short ribs. Bring to a boil, turn off heat, cover, and transfer to the oven.
Cook until the short ribs are tender, 2 to 2 1/2 hours. Allow the short ribs to rest in their braising liquid until cool enough to handle. Remove the short ribs, pick the meat off the bones, and spread into medium chunks. Take the thyme sprigs out and skim the fat off the braising liquid. Cook the braising liquid on the stovetop over high heat until reduced by half, add the short rib meat to the liquid, and reduce until nicely coated and the sauce is thick. Season with the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and add the Tabasco; keep the short ribs warm.
Except for the jalapenos and 1 teaspoon (!) of tabasco sauce, there was nothing “barbecue tasting” in the sauce, so I added a significant amount of sweet paprika, smoked paprika, garlic powder, and some Worcestershire sauce until it tasted something like Texas barbecue.
For the queso, assemble a double boiler by filling a large saucepan 1/3 full with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then turn down heat to medium to maintain a simmer. Place a stainless-steel bowl on top of that, making sure it doesn’t touch the water. Put American cheese and milk in the bowl, melt down the cheese, then add the others, stirring.
After ten minutes and no melting, I added 12 ounces of cream cheese to the cheeses and a lot more liquid to make this more of a queso texture instead of a large blob of cheese. But the recipe continues: Now that the queso is all yummy and ribbon-y, add the mustard, pickled hot peppers and the hot pepper liquid and season with salt. (I had no idea what yellow mustard the chef is referring to, so I omitted it. Also, I had to omit pickle liquid so that my husband would eat this dish!)
Pour the queso into a serving bowl and put a huge scoop of the braised short ribs in the center.
Make little piles of white onion, scallions, cilantro, and pickled hot peppers on top. (I served this for dinner the night I made it, and did serve bowls filled with the recommended garnishes.
Serve with tortilla chips. Which I almost forgot!
Like I said, it was silly of me to rely on a Canadian chef for a Texas barbecue-inspired meal. I could have made the whole thing on my own. I practically did. And by the way, we all really really enjoyed it!!!