Recipes from Matt Limbaugh, Chef + Part-Owner of Root & Flower

Originally from North Carolina, Matt Limbaugh fell in love with cooking at a young age and has been cooking professionally since he was 16 years old. After moving to Vail in 2006, Limbaugh worked as a sous chef for a couple of years before meeting his beautiful wife to-be and work friends that would soon become his Vail family.

Matt Limbaugh

Photos by Charles Townsend Bessent + Joe Newton.

While working as chef de cuisine for Restaurant Kelly Liken, Limbaugh was able develop lasting relationships with local famers, cook for many celebrities, travel and be on TV for the filming of Iron Chef America. Now as executive chef and part-owner of Root & Flower, he likes to create a changing menu of bold flavors that pair wonderfully with the beverage program. When Limbaugh is not in the kitchen, find him snowboarding, riding his Harley-Davidson, camping and cooking outdoors.

Braised Pork Cheeks


  • 5 pounds Berkshire pork cheeks
  • 2 medium white onions, diced into large chunks
  • 8 garlic cloves
  • 4 Guajillo chiles, stems and seeds removed
  • 2 Pasilla chiles, stems and seeds removed
  • Fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 bottle Mexican coke
  • 64 ounces water
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Grapeseed oil, for searing


  1. Heavily season pork cheeks with salt and black pepper. Heat oil in a large, thick-bottom pan until almost smoking. Carefully place cheeks in pan and sear until they turn dark brown in color.

  2. After searing remove pork and set aside. Keep pan on the stove and reduce heat to medium.

  3. Next, add onions and garlic, and sauté until soft. Add dried chilies and lightly toast for30 seconds. Add the pork back into the pan and add remaining ingredients. Cover and bring to a simmer. Place into preheated300 degree oven, and cook for 3 hours until pork is fork tender.

Roasted Pumpkin Mole


  • 6 Mulato chiles
  • 3 Morita chiles
  • 6 Pasilla chiles
  • 4 Guajillo chiles
  • 7 ounces chipotle peppers
  • 4 garlic cloves, toasted in dry pan and then peeled
  • 3 tomatillos, cut into quarters
  • 1 cup pumpkin, roasted and peeled
  • 1 small, white onion, cut into rings
  • 1/4 cup white sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1/4 cup almonds
  • 4 corn tortillas
  • Reserved chile seeds
  • 2 quarts chicken stock
  • 1/2 tsp ground clove
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp dry oregano
  • 4 ounces Mexican chocolate
  • 3 Tbsp salt
  • 1 cup oil


  1. Toast ingredients 1-4. For the dried chiles, remove the seeds and stems, reserving the seeds for later. Toast all the seedless, dried chiles in a dry pan, then put into bowl and cover with water to soak. (This step can be performed up to three days in advance.)

  2. Roast ingredients 5-14 in 420 degree oven until almost burnt.

  3. Puree all ingredients other than dried spices, chocolate, stock and oil, and combine in large bowl.

  4. On the stove top, heat a large stock pot with oil until smoking.

  5. Add the bowl of puree to the hot oil and carefully stir the puree for three to five minutes until “fried.” Turn heat down to a low simmer and add the remaining dried spices, chocolate, salt and chicken stock.

  6. Cook on a low simmer for two hours while stirring every few minutes, so the sauce won’t burn on the bottom.

Ricotta Gnudi with Roasted Garlic Salvitxada, Spring Onions, English Pea, Asparagus and Mint Brown Butter


  • 1 pound ricotta cheese, pressed overnight in coffee filter with a weight on top
  • 1/4 cup flour (I use “00” finely ground Italian flour)
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1.5 cups semolina flour
  • 1-2 Tbsp butter
  • 4 medium spring onions, halved
  • 1 bunch asparagus, blanched
  • 1 cup shelled English peas, blanched
  • Mint, for garnish


  1. After the cheese has been pressed to remove excess liquid, put the drained ricotta in a large bowl and stir in the egg yolks, flour and salt with a wooden spoon. Let rest for one hour.

  2. Coat cheese mixture in semolina, so the dough doesn’t stick to your hands, and one at a time form little “football” dumplings —about one ounce each in size. Place onto sheet pan until all dumplings are formed.

  3. Bring a pot of salted water to a simmer and poach the cheese dumplings for around one minute or until they float to the top. Remove with a slotted spoon and return to the sheet pan to cool.

  4. Once gnudi is cooled, in a non-stick pan on medium heat, start to melt butter with halved spring onions until browned.

  5. Once butter starts to brown and gets aa nutty aroma, add blanched vegetables and mix all ingredients in the pan.

  6. Once butter is fully browned, plate dish and finish with mint and salt and pepper to taste. Serve alongside the salvitxada.



  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 roasted red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 8 roasted garlic cloves
  • 1 ripe tomato, seeded
  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper


  1. Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth.