The NYC restaurant is known for its short rib and caramelized onion version of the classic dish. Here's how to make it. 

By Tina Ujlaki
Updated June 09, 2017
© Matt Hinckley

Sometimes a happy accident in the kitchen can result in a signature dish, and sometimes it can change your entire life. For chef Jeff McInnis of the Southern-style Root & Bone in New York City’s East Village, it did both. When McInnis was developing the menu for a new Asian restaurant in Miami a while back, he was working on a short rib and caramelized onion filling for a spring roll. He cooked up the mixture, packed it into a pan and stashed it in the fridge. When he returned a couple of days later, he found the filling at the bottom of a stack of pans, solid as a brick. It looked “uniform and unique,” and he decided to fry up a slab to see what he had. Happy with the accidental meatloaf he’d created, he finessed it into a dish and put it on the menu. In a case of love at first bite, he singularly credits this meatloaf with bringing him together with his Root & Bone co-chef and life partner, Top Chef alum Janine Booth.

Root & Bone’s Short Rib Meatloaf with Tomato Jam
Active: 1 hr 45 min; Total: 5 hr plus 24 to 48 hr pressing
Serves 6 to 8

Short Rib Meatloaf
Extra-virgin olive oil
6 pounds English-cut bone-in short ribs
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
2 carrots, coarsely chopped
2 celery ribs, coarsely chopped
5 onions, 1 quartered and 4 halved and thinly sliced lengthwise (4 cups)
8 cups chicken or veal stock

Tomato Jam
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 medium shallots, finely chopped (1/2 cup)
1 garlic clove, minced
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Kosher salt and pepper

1. Make the short rib meatloaf: Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large enameled cast-iron casserole, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season the short ribs with salt and pepper and cook (in batches if necessary) over moderately high heat, turning, until well-browned all over, about 5 minutes per batch. Transfer the short ribs to a large plate.

2. Add the carrots, celery and the quartered onion to the casserole and cook, stirring occasionally, until browned, about 5 minutes. Return the short ribs and any accumulated juices to the casserole, add the stock and bring to a simmer. Cover and braise the ribs in the oven until very tender, about 2 hours. Remove from the oven and let the ribs cool to room temperature in the braising liquid, about 1 hour.

3. Transfer the ribs to a large bowl. Shred the meat, discarding the bones and any fat and membranes. Strain the braising liquid through a fine sieve set over a bowl; discard the solids. Wipe out the casserole. Return the braising liquid to the casserole and simmer over moderate high heat until reduced to 2 cups, about 20 minutes. Let cool. Skim off as much fat from the liquid as possible.

4. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the sliced onions and season with salt and pepper. Cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until deep golden, about 20 minutes. Let cool.

5. Line a 9-inch square pan with plastic wrap, leaving 4 inches of overhang all around. Set the pan on a baking sheet to catch any drips. Mix the onions and 1½ cups of the reduced braising liquid with the shredded meat; season well with salt and pepper. (Reserve the remaining braising liquid for another use). Pack the meat into the prepared pan in an even layer and press a piece of parchment paper on top. Fold the plastic over the parchment and place another pan of the same size on top. Weight it down with heavy canned goods and refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours.

6. Meanwhile, make the tomato jam: In a large saucepan, heat the olive oil. Add the shallots and garlic and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, 3 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices and the sugar and vinegar and cook, stirring frequently, until almost all of the liquid has evaporated and the mixture is very thick, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a food processor and puree until smooth. Season the jam with salt and pepper and scrape into a medium bowl. Let cool completely.

7. Preheat the oven to 425°. Unfold the plastic and remove the parchment paper. Invert the pan to release the meatloaf and unwrap it. Cut the meatloaf in squares. In a large cast-iron skillet or ovenproof nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil until shimmering. Add half of the meatloaf squares and cook over moderately high heat, carefully turning once with a spatula, until browned and crisp, about 1 minute per side. Transfer the slices to a sturdy baking sheet and repeat with the remaining squares. Bake until heated through, 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to plates and top with some of the tomato jam.

Serve with mashed potatoes.

Make ahead: The pressed meatloaf can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. The tomato jam can be refrigerated for 1 week.

Root & Bone, 200 East 3rd St. NY, NY 10009; (646) 682-7076.