New York based James Beard Award-nominated celebrity chef JJ Johnson, is serving up a delicious one of a kind Afro-Asian menu during his prestigious Chef’s Club residency in the city through the end of 2017. Chef JJ’s savory feel-good menu and delicious custom cocktails are all about bringing people together in the name of educating about the culinary influence of the African diaspora. On the menu you’ll find Johnson’s Afro-Asian dishes like Short Rib for Two with Carolina gold rice, hoisin, and house-made roti that will instantly become favorites.
If you’re not going to be in the New York City area in time to book a table during his residency you can bring the vibe Johnson’ going for to your own holiday tables. We asked Chef JJ to shares his best secrets to a soulful holiday dinner and a delicious short rib recipe. Take notes, ya’ll!
Don’t Get Too Fancy For The Family
While having a gourmet menu for Thanksgiving sounds Instagrammable, Chef JJ recommends thinking of everyone when you’re finalizing your menu, just as he has for his Chef’s Club residency. “Now, I'm cooking the food of the people with my flavors,” he explains. “I know people want dumplings. I know people want noodles. I know people want a fried item. I know people want chicken. I would never put chicken on the menu, but when my Mom comes, what is she going to eat? She wants chicken every day so I'm thinking about everybody.”
Get a Good 90s Hip Hop Playlist Going
“People sing along and dance in their seats,” says Chef JJ. “That's just an extra aesthetic to the food that I'm cooking. If I can make you feel good before you get the food or while you're eating than that's great. That's why I curated the music and I did 90s hip hop and R&B. I [also] did the neon sign to be in pink because it just happens that neon is, I don't want to call it in trend, but coming back. It's a real New York staple.
Bring The Family Nostalgia To The Vibe and Crank It Up
“My African American grandmother when we would go to her house for Thanksgiving she would play Stevie Wonder and it would be loud, and Aretha Franklin, and Earth, Wind & Fire,” says Chef JJ. “Nobody could tell if the music was too loud or too low because she was setting the tempo.”
Make A Spread to Rememeber
“It's gotta look good 'cause you know if it don't look good somebody's gonna be like, ‘Oh wait, I'm not eating that,’” says Johnson. “So I would say make a really nice spread of food on the table. All the food should go on the table at the same time. You should envision your grandmother... you remember your grandmother would always have these nicely folded napkins and there would be this centerpiece of vegetables and protein and dessert and starches, right? And then she would have an ice bucket with all the wine and champagne in it with the glasses stacked up. And there might be Mason jars, but everything was a show.”
Put On A Show
“When you do your holiday party this year, you should put on a show,” says Chef JJ. “You should really show off to your family or your friends. You should bring those napkins that you have bought somewhere in the world when you traveled and throw them on the table. You should bring out that china that you really don't ever use. Turn on your music. Maybe you'll have a little neon sign in your house, that you've been sitting on? Throw it on the wall. But my recommendation is, Black people, we like to put shows on, so put on a show for your Thanksgiving and really elevate it from the last time you've done it.”
Agreed! And to help you do so, Chef JJ has graciously shared his recipe for Bone-In Beef Short ribs to Share.
Chef JJ Johnson's Bone-In Beef Short Ribs to Share
Prep time: 35 minutes
Cooking time: Approximately 4 hours
Total time: 4.5 hours
2 pounds short ribs bone in, prepped from the butcher
¼ cup olive oil plus 3 tablespoons
2 cups dry red wine (Pinot Noir or Merlot)
1 quart veal stock
3 cinnamon sticks
3 bay leaves
3 oranges, quartered
1 bunch thyme
1 bunch parsley
1 jalapeno, chopped with seeds
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.
Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Once the oil begins to shimmer add the short rib in a single layer and season with salt and pepper. Sear the meat until lightly browned on all sides, turning with long tongs, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer meat to a plate.
Deglaze the pot with the red wine, making sure to bring up the brown bits of fond from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Return the short ribs back to the pot and lower the heat to medium. Add in the veal stock, 3 cups of water, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, oranges, thyme, parsley and jalapeno. Season generously with pepper. Cook for 2-3 hours.
Book a table with Chef JJ at the Chef's Club residency here.