This is a hearty, ragu that is just as delicious with fresh pasta as it is served over warm rustic polenta. The mushrooms, make the liquid cloaking the shredded short ribs nice and meaty, and the wine, anchovy, tomato paste and mustard make it sing. Normally you would puree the braising liquid with an immersion blender until thick, but the sauce was already thick, and I used such beautiful tomatoes and carrots that I decided not to. The result was still very much a ragu but with remnants of the tomato and carrots. Gremolata is a nice, bright touch at the end. Perfect for the frosty cold evening’s we’ve been having in Portland.
Short Rib Ragu
Yield 8-10 servings
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon bacon fat, lard or oil
- 1 large onion, diced
- 2 medium carrots, diced
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon anchovy paste
- 1/2 bottle big red wine
- 14 ounces fire-roasted whole tomatoes and juice
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 3-4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
- 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 large sprig rosemary, leaves chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- Chicken Stock
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Soak dried mushrooms in 2 cups boiling water.
- Season ribs well with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large, heavy pot (I used a 5-qt. enameled cast iron dutch oven) over medium heat until shimmering. Brown ribs in batches for 2-3 minutes per side, then set aside. Pour out all but 1 tablespoon of accumulated fat from pot, then sauté onion, carrots and celery until soft. Add garlic and stir until fragrant.
- Create a hot spot in the pot by moving vegetables aside and leaving about a 3-inch radius bare. Add tomato paste and anchovy paste to the hot spot and stir vigorously until caramelized, then stir into the vegetables. Add red wine to deglaze and cook until liquid is reduced by half. Add tomatoes, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, mushrooms and soaking liquid (minus the last 1/4 inch to keep sediment out of your dish), plus herbs.
- Add ribs to pot and fill with chicken stock or water until ribs are nearly covered. Bring liquid to a boil, then cover tightly and braise in oven for at least 3 hours or until ribs are fall-apart tender.
- Remove ribs from liquid and set aside until cool enough to handle. Remove bay leaves and discard. While ribs cool, purée the braising liquid with an immersion blender until thick and set over medium-low heat to reduce if the sauce seems thin. When ribs have cooled down, discard bones and large pieces of fat, then shred the beef and return it to the pot. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature, skimming any large pools of fat from the surface.
- Refrigerate overnight. The next day, remove additional fat from the surface before reheating. Serve over polenta, sprinkled with gremolata.