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Ignore the lousy pic. And ignore the optical illusion: Portion is large.

 Allow me to list the dishes I’d rather eat than pot roast: all of them. (OK, all of them, except that starch-heavy, fall-apart-in-your-hands duck “burger” I recently tried at Jackie’s.)

Firefly chef Danny Bortnick feels my pain. Like many of us, Bortnick grew up with stringy pot roasts pulled hot and dry from the oven. The problem, Bortnick says, is that many of our parents (God, I hate picking on mom so close to the holidays!) tended to stick lean cuts of boneless chuck into the oven without enough braising liquid and at temperatures guaranteed to produce a dried-out piece of meat. 

For his $28 “mini” pot roast, the Firefly chef prefers short ribs sliced from the chuck section over the more traditional beef shoulder cut, mostly because the former has far more marbling than the latter. Bortnick trims the deboned short ribs and ties the meat into 9- to 10-ounce balls, which he’ll sear and then braise in veal stock (and caramelized mirepoix) for four hours before resting the meat in the strained braising liquid.

Prepared to order and paired with mashed potatoes, braised carrots, and roasted shallots, the final dish has the texture of classic pot roast, but with far more succulence and savor than the nasty meat you might remember as a child. Maybe the chuck short ribs are a cheat, or at least the kind of cut our parents never could have found (or afforded) themselves, but frankly I don’t care. I’m just glad to have fond memories now of a once-horrific dish.