Short Rib Ragu
A few weeks ago, Betsy’s mom came to visit from Nashville. We spent a lot of time hiking and playing with our new puppy, but when we weren’t doing that, we were eating really well.
I asked Betsy what she thought I should make when her mom was in town and she immediately responded, “Short ribs.”
I thought this was weird since short ribs are kind of more of a winter dish. When I thought back on it though, I think every time I’ve asked Betsy what I should make for an occasion, she always very quickly replies, “Short ribs.”
What can I say? I guess I have a way with them.
Short Rib Ragu
Yield: Serves 6.
4-5 pounds beef short ribs
Kosher salt and pepper
2 Tablespoons oil
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 bottle red wine
14 ounces canned tomatoes
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard (optional)
1 ounce dried Porcini mushrooms (soaked for an hour in 2 Cups of hot water)
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme (or 1 Teaspoon dried)
1 Tablespoon fresh oregano (or 1 Teaspoon dried)
1 large rosemary sprig
2 bay leaves
Water or stock
Egg noodles or polenta (for serving)
1 large clove garlic, minced
1 large lemon, zest only
1/4 Cup flat leaf parsley, minced
1/2 Teaspoon salt
1 Teaspoon olive oil
Dutch oven or any sturdy large pot that's oven and stove top safe.
1) Add oil to large dutch oven and brown ribs (seasoned with salt and pepper) over high heat. Work in batches so ribs brown nicely. Remove ribs.
2) Add veggies to pot and cook for a few minutes. Scrape up any pieces of rib in the pot. Add tomato sauce and cook for another minute.
3) Add wine, tomatoes, spices, stock from mushrooms, mustard to pot. Stir and add ribs back in. Add enough water or stock to barely cover ribs.
4) Bring to a simmer, then cover, and braise in a 350 degree oven for 3 hours.
5) Remove ribs and let cool. Then shred rib meat off bones.
6) Once sauce is cool, blend until smooth and then strain. Spoon off any large fat pools. If you have time, refrigerating for a few hours will make it easier to remove grease and also intensify flavors. After blending and straining, you can add the shredded meat back to the sauce.
7) For gremolata, mix ingredients in a small bowl and let sit at room temp for at least 30 minutes.
8) When ready to serve, bring ragu to a simmer and thicken for a few minutes.
9) Serve over egg noodles or polenta topped with some gremolata.
Adapted from a Food52 recipe.
Preparing the braise
While this recipe does take a good day to make, most of it is completely hands off. The ribs are either braising in the oven or cooling in the fridge for 95% of the time. If you plan your day well, you can start these on a Sunday morning and the house will smell awesome all day.
Then you’ll have a fantastic meal ready at night!
To get the short ribs ready to braise, season them well on all sides with salt and pepper. Then add your oil to a large heavy dutch oven or similarly heavy pan.
Once the oil is hot, add the short ribs in batches so they brown really nicely on all sides. This is an important step so be sure to take your time and make sure the ribs are nice and browned.
When you pull them out, add all your veggies to the pan. You can chop them pretty roughly since they are going to cook for hours.
As they cook over medium heat, try to scrape up any little bits of ribs that are stuck to the pan. Then add in the tomato paste and continue to cook for another minute or so.
Next add all your spices, tomatoes, red wine, and the stock from your Porcini mushrooms (you can chop up the mushrooms and add them also if you want). Then add your ribs back to the pot and add enough water or stock (beef stock works well) to just cover the ribs.
If a few of them poke up a bit, that’s okay.
This was my pot, ready for the oven!
Bring this pot of deliciousness to a simmer on the stove top and then cover it and move it to a 350 degree oven to braise for about 3 hours. The ribs should just fall apart basically if you pick them up.
Finishing the Ribs
When your ribs are done braising, pull them out of the pot and set them aside to cool off. After 15-20 minutes they should be cool enough to handle. Then you can pull all the meat off the bones, discarding any huge pieces of fat, and shred all the meat.
This is really good stuff.
As for what’s left in the pot, I recommend letting it cool a bit, picking out the bay leaves, then tossing it all in a blender to puree down.
If you want to get really technical, you can strain the sauce also to remove any chunks so you have a really smooth, rich sauce.
At some point, try to skim off any big pools of fat also so the sauce doesn’t get too greasy. If you have the time, the easiest way to do this is to put the sauce back in the pot and stick it in the fridge for a few hours. The fat will solidify and then you can just scoop it out.
The options are pretty endless honestly. Two of the most classic options are to serve the ragu with a creamy polenta or with egg noodles.
I choose egg noodles which I made from scratch. I’m not going to go into huge detail on how to do this for this post just because I don’t want to be forty pages long, but check out my other homemade pasta posts to get some good tips on how to make pasta from scratch.
After some kneading, resting, and rolling, I ended up with these beautiful noodles. Some of the best I’ve made I think!
This was new to me with a ragu, but I think it completely made the dish. Basically, just mix up the gremolata ingredients in a small bowl and let them sit at room temperature for a few minutes before you serve the ragu.
Adding a spoonful of the mixture to the top of your ragu really brightens the flavors.
It’s an awesome touch and definitely worth the extra chopping/zesting.
When you’re ready to serve the ragu, add the shredded meat back to the pot with the sauce and bring it all to a simmer.
I recommend letting the sauce reduce down for 15-20 minutes but it should be pretty thick already. No need to let it simmer for hours or anything crazy.
The final version should be very rich and luscious.
The egg noodles kind of absorb all the sauce and just make for a perfect meal.
Even in summer time, I would eat this anytime it’s in front of me!
I think I can say without a doubt that this passed the mother-in-law test, which, as I’m sure some of you may know, is one of the hardest tests around!