Roberto Gerbino
  • Roberto Gerbino
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Recipe by Roberto Gerbino, Executive Chef, Il Fornaio, Del Mar

If you ask me what age I started cooking, I will tell you I was born in a restaurant. My father had a restaurant and my grandfather had a restaurant. If you ask my father, he would say his grandfather had a restaurant, too.

I am from Catania, the second largest city in Sicily. We had a traditional restaurant there and served classic Sicilian food. I don’t remember not working in our restaurant, but I was probably about ten when I started cooking. I worked at several restaurants in Italy before I was even out of high school. I came to San Diego for vacation when I was 18 and ended up staying. I came for a month but because it was so easy to find a job cooking, I decided to stay. I was sponsored by a restaurant and got my green card. I love it here.

I prepare food from all over Italy. I love pasta with swordfish, which is Sicilian. And agnello alla palermitana, which is lamb chops, breaded and fried with potatoes and mint. That is from Palermo.

When I am not working I love going out for sushi or Thai food because I am cooking so much lately! When I do parties at my house I do short ribs. I make them Italian style. I make it like an osso bucco. Everybody loves it.

INGREDIENTS

Serves 6–8

  • 6 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided use
  • 4 pounds beef short ribs 
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh sage, chopped
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 celery ribs, diced
  • 2 oz tomato paste 
  • 1 tablespoon juniper berries
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 cups red wine
  • 3 cups beef stock

HOW TO DO IT

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Heat 1/2 cup of the oil in a large skillet. Season the ribs with salt, pepper, rosemary, and sage. Dust the ribs with flour and put them in the skillet with the heated oil. Cook over moderate heat until browned and crusty on all sides. Transfer the ribs to a shallow baking dish to form a single layer.

Use another pot to heat the rest of the oil. Add onions, carrots, and celery. Cook over low heat until the vegetables are slightly browned. Add the tomato paste and the juniper berries. Stir for 2 minutes, add the water and wine and let reduce over low heat for about 15 minutes. Add the beef stock, wait for it to boil, and pour the vegetable, wine, and stock mixture over the meat. Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil.

Place short ribs in oven and bake for 3 hours. Take off the aluminum foil and bake for another 30 min.

Take the tray out of the oven and transfer the short ribs to another container. Refrigerate both the ribs and the sauce separately, overnight.

The next day, skim the fat from the top of the sauce, put the meat back in the sauce, and let it simmer for about 20 minutes until short ribs are evenly heated and the sauce is thickened. Enjoy!

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