Trey Campo, With a Recipe for Braised Beef Short Ribs

Campo’s cooking style mixes Cajun, Creole and Italian cuisine.

Steve “Trey” Campo (l) and braised beef short ribs in a Dutch oven.
Steve “Trey” Campo (l) and braised beef short ribs in a Dutch oven. (photo: Steve Estvanik / Courtesy of Steve Campo / Shutterstock)

A native of Louisiana and now a resident of Spring, Texas, a suburb of Houston, Steve “Trey” Campo is an engineer working in the oil and gas industry. He was raised in a Catholic family and his parents and grandparents had 13 siblings collectively, leading to especially joyful Christmas gatherings. And, he explained, his nickname “Trey” came up because he is the third Steve in his family lineage and “Trey” means “third.”

As he reminisced about his childhood, although his grandmothers lived in Southeast Louisiana, Campo noted that he is a full-blooded Sicilian, as are his parents and grandparents. Consequently, he grew up enjoying Italian cuisine, noting that his grandmothers were “extravagant cooks.”

“I was around extra-good food while I was growing up. I was always fond of their cooking, especially the traditional gravy. When I went to college in Southwest Louisiana, I began to learn about Louisiana Cajun and Creole cooking. I melded them with my Italian culture. So I have built upon that knowledge. Because Cajun and Creole cooking has lots of gravy, it went together really well as I grew up eating red gravy for lasagna and meat dishes.”

Campo said that he enjoys cooking for family gatherings. “When I was growing up and in my early teens,” he said, “every Saturday we had gatherings and cooked jambalaya, barbecue dishes, and many others. Getting the family together was a good time.”

Now Campo’s parents have moved from Louisiana to Texas and his sister lives nearby. “So my immediate family gets together at least once or twice a week. We sit down and break bread together,” he said.

With his unusual cooking background, what he enjoys cooking the most is braised beef short ribs. It’s a combination of low-and-slow barbecue as well as slow braising the meat, bringing together both his roots of eating gravies growing up, along with his recent learnings of low-and-slow Texas barbecue. “I enjoy low-and-slow cooking because it really puts a great aroma in the air around the neighborhood,” he said. “From there, once I have some good smoke flavor on the beef, I put it into a Dutch oven with vegetables and create a gravy.”

His favorite food, however, focuses on the ocean. “I am kind of a seafood person,” he said, “and I love eating raw oysters. We are close to the Gulf Coast, and we get fresh oysters and fresh seafood. I also appreciate a really good lasagna with just the right amount of sauce, pasta, meat and vegetables — a really hearty lasagna.”

How has his Catholic faith affected his life? “I have always been a practicing Catholic. And the important thing to remember when I stress out about cooking is that I once heard Chef Guy Fieri say that ‘even my dog eats well as I can sometimes make a sub-par or horrible dish,’” he said. “But that’s okay, because we still must cook the dish. In my faith life, I recognize that our weakness comes from human nature.

“But through the Resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we must keep on going. We must ‘stay in the day’ as one of my favorite priests, the late Father Mark Beard, always said,” said Campo.

Father Beard also preached, “Persevere — because even the snails made it to the ark.”

“This truly sticks with me in many aspects of my life,” Campo said, “and I try to live by it in all things.”


Recipe: Smoked and Braised Beef Short Ribs

“This my way of cooking simple smoked-and-braised beef short ribs,” says Trey Campo. 

Ingredients

  • 8 beef short ribs
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • Salt 
  • Coarsely ground black pepper
  • Garlic powder 
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 onions, peeled and diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and diced
  • 1 to 2 cans of 12-ounce beer, preferably dark
  • Beef stock, preferably homemade
  • 2 carrots, sliced

Directions

Smoke 2 to 3 of the beef short ribs at 225 degrees F with hickory/oak smoke for 1 to 2 hours. Note: don’t smoke all the BBQ beef ribs as this may overpower the dish and we want to reserve some of the ribs for browning to make gravy.

With remaining beef ribs, heat up Dutch oven with 2 tablespoons cooking oil to brown the ribs. Brown ribs meat side down for 2 to 3 mins, until brown bits begin to form in bottom of enamel Dutch oven.

Remove beef ribs, and deglaze pot with the vegetables. Don’t add garlic just yet as it could burn. Deglaze until the vegetables are soft and onions are translucent. Add garlic at end and cook down until aromatic. Add 1 to 2 cans of beer. Add the beef stock. Bone broth works great too.

Add just enough stock (approximately 2 to 3 inches deep) to cover the bones of the beef ribs in Dutch oven. Add all beef ribs to the Dutch oven.

Simmer with lid on for 2 to 3 hours, then remove lid and cook for another 30 to 45 minutes. May need to thicken with cornstarch or flour to desired consistency.

Beef ribs should be shreddable and very tender. Remove bones and membrane from ribs leaving only tender meat in Dutch oven. Gravy can be put into fat separator to remove some of the fat, then returned to pot as gravy. Carrots may be added as well with 1 hour left at simmer to ensure they’re soft. Potatoes work well too. Serve over white rice with herbs and parsley.

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