When I host large parties or get togethers, I like to serve mostly finger foods and small bites.  They make for much easier enjoyment while mingling and chatting with friends, and the small portions allow guests to try many foods without filling up too quickly.  However, I sometimes tire of the staple foods that make an appearance on nearly every party spread.  Veggie trays, spinach dip, chips and salsa – they can be overdone.  I enjoy the challenge of coming up with a fresh new appetizers that can bring new life to the table.

This is my rendition of the classic meat and potato combination, gussied up and ready for its rise to instant popularity.  Rich, buttery bites of mashed potatoes topped with mouth-watering braised short ribs and a cabernet reduction?  What could be better.  I’ll tell you what.   All of the components can be made in advance and then rewarmed and assembled just before party time.  Sophisticated entertaining made even simpler?  I’ll take it.

  • Yield about 18 servings


For the potato cakes: 
1 lb. Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and chopped into 1-inch chunks
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
½ tsp. salt, plus more as needed
½ cup milk
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 large egg
½ cup panko
1 tbsp. minced fresh chives

For the red wine sauce: 
½ tbsp. butter
¼ cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups cabernet sauvignon

1½ cups shredded braised short ribs, warmed


  • 01

    Place the potatoes in a medium pot and cover with water.  Bring to a boil over medium high heat.  Continue to boil until the potatoes are tender when poked with a fork. Drain the potatoes and return them to the pot.  Add in the butter, salt, milk and garlic.  Season with freshly ground pepper to taste.  Mash the potatoes with two fork until smooth.  (Avoid over working them or they may become gummy.)  Set aside.

  • 02

    Place a rimmed baking sheet in the oven and and preheat to 450˚ F.  Meanwhile, add the egg, panko and chives to the pot with the potatoes.  Stir together just until evenly combined.  Once the oven and pan are heated, remove the pan from the oven and line with a piece of parchment paper.  Spread the potato mixture in a rectangular slab about ½-inch thick and trim the excess parchment away from the edges.  Return the pan to the oven and bake until the potato mixture feels set, about 10 minutes.  Turn on the broiler and let it crisp the top a bit more until the potatoes begin to brown at the edges, 1-2 minutes.

  • 03

    While the potatoes are baking, make the wine sauce.  Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add the onion to the pan and sauté until it begins to soften, about 3-4 minutes.  Stir in the garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add the wine to the pan.  Reduce the heat to a brisk simmer and continue to cook until the volume is reduced to about 1/3 cup. Remove from the heat.

  • 04

    When the potatoes are set and browned, cut the slab into 18 pieces.  Transfer to a serving platter.  Top each potato square with a spoonful of the braised short ribs and drizzle with the cabernet sauce.  Serve warm.