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.
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.
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.