If you visit Portsmouth, New Hampshire and walk into Moxy for the first time, you might not guess that this casual restaurant’s chef, Matt Louis, has been nominated for Best Chef in the Northeast region by the James Beard Foundation…that is until you sit down and try his food. Before opening this small hip restaurant on Penhallow street in the historic part of the city, chef Matt once worked for the award winning chef Thomas Keller at Bouchon, the French Laundry and Per Se.
The chef prepares what he calls modern American tapas in the open kitchen of a two storied restaurant with walls painted in primary colors of red, yellow and green and an exposed brick wall behind a large blue bar with bright green stools. Wooden plaques in the bar area list the regional farms where Chef Matt sources ingredients for his tapas that have a definite New England twist.
Knowing that the tapas are made with the freshest ingredients and that the menu changes with the seasons, this is a restaurant that my husband and I thoroughly enjoy. It’s also fun going with friends so that we can share little bites from the varied menu. On our last visit we started off with chili kale chips with pumpkin and sunflower seed granola bites. Next we ordered the Johnny cakes, which are a thin scallion cornmeal pancake. They came with pork shoulder, crispy onions, a choice of two sauces , and pickled cucumbers which you then wrap in a leaf of bibb lettuce and enjoy. Our final two tapas were apple cider lacquered pork belly and the short rib marmalade on grilled toast with pickled onions and Great hill blue cheese.
After our last visit to Moxy, I thought I would try to recreate chef Matt’s short rib marmalade tapas at home. While I wouldn’t call the beef really a marmalade, it is a very tender braised beef that is complimented by savory blue cheese and sweet pickled onions. I served the crostini with a marinated asparagus tips and carrot ribbon salad that was also inspired by another tapas dish that we enjoyed at Moxy a couple of years ago.
Short Rib Marmalade Crostini
Short Rib Marmalade
- 1 lb. boneless beef short ribs
- 2 – 3 Tbsp. olive oil
- 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp. onion powder
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 carrot, cut into several pieces
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 c. red wine
- 2 c. beef broth
- 1 Tbsp. balsamic or red wine vinegar
Season the short ribs with the garlic and onion powder, salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a pot over medium high heat until hot and add the short ribs and brown on all sides. Remove to a plate. Add the onions and carrots to the pot and sauté until the onions start to get soft. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Add the red wine and scrape up the brown bits and let cook until reduced by half. Add in the beef broth, thyme and return the short ribs. Bring the liquid to a boil and then reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for about 3 hours or until the meat is fork tender. Remove the short ribs and strain the broth. When the meat is cool enough to handle, shred into bite size pieces. Return the meat to the pot, add some of the reserved broth and the vinegar and cook the liquid until it has almost evaporated but the meat is still very moist. Taste for additional seasoning.
- 1/4 c. sherry or apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 c. water
- 1 Tbsp. sugar
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 red or sweet Vidalia onion, cut in half and then sliced thinly
Place the onions in a small bowl. Heat the vinegar, water, sugar and salt in a pot, stir until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Pour the mixture over the onions and let sit for 1 hour. Onions can be made a day or two before and kept refrigerated. Drain before using.
To Assemble The Crostini
- 1 baguette
- 1 – 2 Tbsp. olive oil
- short rib marmalade
- blue cheese crumbles
Slice the baguette on the bias about 1/4 inch thick and brush with olive oil. Grill the bread until brown on both sides. Top the bread with a large spoonful of the short ribs, a little of the pickled onions and sprinkle with some of the crumbled blue cheese and serve.
Each crostini is a couple of bites of savory deliciousness and would make a wonderful appetizer for a party. I like serving a dish such as the short ribs that can be prepared ahead of time, the meat reheated and kept warm until ready to assemble. The pickled onions can be kept refrigerated in their brine and can also be used on sandwiches and tacos as well as grilled meats.
I can’t wait to return to Moxy to see what new tapas have been added to the summer menu. Who knows, perhaps I will be inspired to try to make another of the chef’s creative tapas plates. Tell me, are you like me and do you try to recreate a dish or meal that you have enjoyed while dining at a restaurant?