Looking for a hearty dinner recipe great for winter days and cold weather? Love Italian-American comfort food? My short rib ragu braises for hours in a rich tomato, wine sauce until the meat falls off the bone. This is the sort of recipe which has you hoping for a snow day!
Some of my favorite meals start with some meat, a couple of cans of tomatoes and a lot of time. Whether I’m making a traditional Bolognese sauce or a pork shoulder ragu or this short rib ragu, there is something so right about slowly braising meat and sauce until they have fully combined into a delicious harmony.
And the house smells so good! For hours before we sit down to eat, all the wonderful smells have us anticipating that dinner with enthusiasm.
The only issue is which sauce to make! There are so many good choices for slow cooked Italian meat sauces. Do I want beef, pork, or lamb? Sausage? Wine or not? What cut of meat? Which herbs?
For this particular rendition of a slow cooked Italian meat sauce I went with beef short ribs. The kind on the bone. 🙂
Boneless ‘short ribs’ are very tasty, but they are a completely different cut of meat. (They are apparently cut from the chuck near the shoulder.) While you can certainly make a braised sauce with boneless ribs, the flavor and the texture are going to be different.
Yes, with the bone-in ribs you will have to skim off the fat, but I think it’s worth it for all the lovely collagen which is going to melt into your sauce giving it so much body! And I love the texture of short ribs when they’re braised.
I definitely wanted wine, so I added a couple of cups of red wine. And then it needed a little more, so I deglazed the pot with brandy first to give it that little kick.
Then we have tomatoes, carrots, and onions; a little thyme and bay; and my favorite secret weapon. 🙂 Anchovies! In meaty dishes like this, you can’t pick out the taste at all. All you know is that everything tastes better. Deeper. Meatier. Don’t skip the anchovies!
And there you have it. My rich and meaty, slow braised short rib ragu. Make a big pot of it, freeze some for later, and cook up your favorite starch to along with. Potatoes, polenta, or pasta are all wonderful with this sauce.
– Happy Braising, Annemarie
Looking for some Italian comfort food? Tender, oven-braised beef in a rich and velvety tomato, red wine sauce makes a short rib ragu with complex flavors perfect for ladling over pasta, polenta, or mashed potatoes.
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 4 lbs meaty beef short ribs
- kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper
- 2 medium yellow onions, diced
- 2 medium carrots, diced
- 6 medium cloves garlic, diced
- 4 anchovy fillets
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tbsp brandy
- 2 cups red wine
- 2 28 oz cans whole tomatoes
- 2 bay leaves
- 4-5 sprigs fresh thyme
- 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
- parmesan cheese, for topping
Preheat oven to 325F.
In a large, oven-safe Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Season the short ribs generously with salt and pepper. In two-three batches brown ribs for about 2 minutes per side, which is 8-10 minutes per batch. Transfer the browned ribs to a bowl.
- Pour all but 2 tablespoons of the oil out of the pot and add the the onions, carrots, and garlic. Reduce the heat to medium low and saute the vegetables until they are soft, about 5 minutes.
Add the anchovies and let them dissolve into the vegetables. Then add the tomato paste and stir it in.
Pour in the brandy. Wait 10 seconds, then pour in the wine. Bring the wine to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the tomatoes, bay leaves, and thyme. Bring everything back to a boil, then add back the short ribs.
If there isn't enough liquid in the pot to mostly cover the short ribs (just maybe leaving the tops of the ribs out), add water until the ribs are submerged.
Cover the Dutch oven and put it in the oven for 2 1/2 - 3 hours. The ribs will be falling apart tender.
When the ribs are done, take the pot out of the oven and remove the ribs to a bowl. Let the ribs cool enough that you can take the meat off and let the sauce sit long enough that the fat comes to the top. This will take about 15 minutes.
While you are waiting for the sauce to cool and separate is a good time to start on the pasta, mashed potatoes, or polenta which you are going to serve with the ragu.
Once the ribs are cool enough, shred the meat, discarding the bones and any fat or connective tissue. (At this point you can package up the meat and put it and the pot of sauce in the refrigerator overnight and then take off the congealed fat the next day.)
Skim as much fat off the top of the sauce as you can. Discard the bay leaves and thyme sprigs. Then puree the sauce, either in a blender or in the pot with a stick blender, until smooth. Add back the meat and stir to combine.
Put the sauce back on the heat and bring to a simmer. Stir in the parsley. Serve over pasta (such as rigatoni), mashed potatoes, or polenta. Pass around parmesan cheese at the table.
- Short ribs are wonderful and meaty, but they are fatty as well. Be sure to let the sauce sit so that you can skim the fat off the top. Or make the sauce a day ahead and take the fat off once it solidifies. I have taken as much as 1 cup of fat off the top. Do not skip this step!
- This sauce freezes well. To freeze, put it in a sealed bag and lay it flat in the freezer. This way you can defrost it quickly and easily. (If you are in a rush, you can put the bag in some hot tap water for about 10-15 minutes until it is soft enough that you can transfer it to a saucepan.)