My birthday, Mrs. Obama, Ancho Chile Braised Short Ribs, Rush Limbaugh and ‘The Hottest Spot in Vail is…’

I record “Saturday Night Live” every week and watch it intermittently throughout the week. The digital shorts are well worth the time and the Miley Cyrus Show as well as “What Up With That?” spur the giggles.

But this week I can’t stop channeling Stephon, the City Correspondent for Weekend Update. The character offers advice to the city’s tourists, “New York’s hottest club is TASTE…” And it is all due to my birthday and Top Chef contestant Kelly Liken in Vail.

Prior to the First Lady’s time in Vail with her daughters last week, I had planned my birthday weekend to be spent in Vail and dinner to be at the buzziest (the most buzzful?) restaurant there: Kelly Liken. Turns out I have good taste. Mrs. Obama and her daughters also chose Kelly Liken for one of their dinners over President’s Day weekend.

And now, Rush Limbaugh has taken her dining choice to task. So what if she enjoyed ribs, she likely skied all day and earned those calories. It’s ashamed politicos and talking heads pick on people of influence just to push their own agenda.

But in the midst of this media spin and the recent nod as a James Beard semi-finalist for Best Chef: Southwest (for the third time), this strong, female chef has gained even more national publicity.

Stay tuned to Gourmet Glee for a recap of my upcoming evening at Kelly Liken! In the meantime, enjoy her recipe for the ribs Michelle Obama devoured.


Ancho Chile Braised Short Ribs, Hominy & Wild Mushroom Sauté, Tuscan Kale and Braising Liquor
As enjoyed by Michelle Obama at Restaurant Kelly Liken (previously reported by Westword’s Denver Cafe Society)


  • 2 lb. beef short ribs
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 2 ancho chiles, rehydrated and puréed
  • 1 qt. veal or beef stock
  • Spice rub (Ingredients below)
  1. Season the short ribs with spice rub and sear in a large sauté pan over medium high heat until well browned on all sides. Remove to an oven-proof pot deep enough to cover the ribs.
  2. Wipe any excess spices from the pan and sauté the vegetables until caramelized. De-glaze with red wine and rehydrated chile paste. Add to short ribs.
  3. Add enough stock to cover the ribs, bring to a simmer on the stove top, then braise in the oven at 300 degrees for 4-5 hours or until the ribs are fork tender.

Mix all in a bowl:

  • 3 T dark chili powder
  • 1 t cayenne pepper
  • ½ t coriander, ground
  • 1 T paprika
  • 1 t onion powder
  • 1 T cumin, ground
  • 1 ½ T salt
  • 2 t black pepper, ground

For mushroom sauté:

  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 cup assorted wild mushrooms
  • 1 cup hominy, cooked
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 1/2 cup braising liquid from short ribs
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Heat the oil over medium heat. Sauté the mushrooms until tender. Add the garlic and shallots and cook for 1 minute.
  2. Add the hominy and braising liquid and simmer until warmed through. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm until ready to serve.


  • 2 cups Tuscan kale, roughly chopped and blanched
  • 1 T shallot, minced
  • 1 T butter
  • Salt and pepper

Sauté the shallot in butter until tender; add the kale, heat, finish with salt and pepper.

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