Beef Short Rib RaguCourse: MainCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Medium
I know, I know. You looked at the length of the ingredient list for this dish and groaned. It is a bit lengthy, but most of the ingredients you likely already have in your pantry. And trust me, the results are worth the effort. Beef Short Rib Ragu is the stuff of Slow Sunday afternoon dreams. The aroma of the beef cooking in the herbs and port wine is intoxicating. It will make an ordinary weekend seem celebratory and the lucky ones who get to share this meal will feel like they are in some exclusive club (because they are).
Short ribs are one of those cuts of meat that are unnecessarily intimidating. Unlike steaks or roasting cuts, they are practically impossible to ruin. After a quick sear, you will cook them low and slow until they practically fall off the bone. The hardest part is defatting the braising liquid, but armed with my method for removing fat from pan juices, you can’t go wrong! For the braising liquid, I prefer a combination of ruby Port wine and red wine. The Port wine adds a little sweetness which I absolutely adore. Yes, you can make them without Port wine, and use regular red wine (I do this when I’m out of Port wine), but I like the kiss of sweetness. It is also possible to braise the short ribs entirely in beef stock if you have no wine. The sauce will be lighter in color, but still very flavorful. If you do this, I suggest adding 2-3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and 2 tbsp of soy sauce to your beef stock.
Once the short ribs are done braising, you will shred the meat, defat the braising liquid, and add the meat and the liquid to your simple tomato sauce. The result is nothing short of heavenly!
Now for the big question – what to serve the Short Rib Ragu with? Pasta is a no brainer, as is gnocchi, but it is lovely on top of polenta, risotto or even spaghetti squash, for a lighter option.
Also: You may be confused about the addition of soy sauce at the end as this is a very Italian feeling dish. I have learned that adding the trifecta of balsamic vinegar, soy sauce and Worcestershire sauce to any beef braise makes it taste absolutely heavenly. Try it and I’m sure you’ll be convinced!
4 lbs. English cut short ribs, trimmed of excess fat and silver skin (about 6 short ribs)
1 cup ruby Port
1-2 cups beef broth or water
1 cup red wine (something you wouldn’t mind drinking)
2 large onions
4 medium carrots
3 ribs celery
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp tomato paste
32 oz. tomato puree (unsalted)
4-5 sprigs fresh thyme
1 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves, minced
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 tsp dried basil
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 1/2 tsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp grapeseed oil
1 1/2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees (F). Read this step carefully because it details how you will cut your onions, carrots, and celery. We will be cutting them in large pieces for the short rib braise, and small pieces for the sauce, which is the base of the short rib ragu. Cut 2 carrots, 2 ribs of celery, and one of the onions into large, 2 inch chunks. Finely dice the remaining carrots, celery, and onion.
- Heat the grapeseed oil in a 6 quart Dutch oven (“pot”) over medium-high heat. Season the short ribs with 2 tsp Kosher salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper. When the oil is hot, brown the short ribs on all sides. Remove short ribs from pot and transfer to a large platter.
- Remove and discard all but 2 tbsp of fat from the pot and return to burner, reducing heat to medium. Add the large cuts of onion, carrots and celery, and cook until the vegetables begin to soften and brown slightly, about 8 minutes. Add half of your garlic and cook for another minute. Add the tomato paste and stir into vegetables, cooking for another 1-2 minutes.
- Add short ribs back to pot, nestling into veggies. Add thyme, rosemary, and bay leaf, then both wines to the pot. Add soy sauce and Worcestershire to pot then add enough broth to the pot to come to the tops of ribs and bring to a boil. Place a lid on pot.
- Cover pot and place in the oven. Cook for 3 1/2 hours.
- While short ribs are braising, begin making tomato sauce in a separate pot (at least 4 quart capacity.
- To prepare sauce, heat 1 tbsp olive oil over medium heat, then add your finely diced onion, carrot, and celery. Add remaining garlic and 1/4 tsp Kosher salt, and stir. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until softened and slightly browned at edges, about 10 minutes.
- To sauce pot, add tomato puree, basil, oregano, 1 tsp Kosher salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, sugar, and balsamic vinegar to sauce. Stir to incorporate. Cover and bring to a low boil. Reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer sauce, with the lid on, but slightly tilted, for at least one hour and up to 4, while short ribs are in the oven. Stir occasionally to ensure that sauce doesn’t stick to bottom of pot.
- When short ribs are finished cooking, transfer the pot to your stove top, remove lid from the pot, and cool until you can handle the pot with your hands.
- Transfer the ribs from the pot to a large plate, removing any excess veggies that cling to them. Remove thyme sprigs and discard. Discard any loose bones that have fallen away from the meat. Allow the braising liquid to cool until it is safe to handle. Strain the braising liquid into a heat safe receptacle. Defat the pan drippings by using a gravy separator OR using my easy zip-lock bag method (watch this video for an easy reference on how to do this). Discard fat from braising liquid. Reserve braising liquid for sauce.
- Using two forks, remove short rib meat from bones and shred into bite sized pieces.
- Add shredded meat and defatted short rib braising liquid into the sauce pot. Stir and simmer for about 30 minutes. Season to taste with Kosher salt and black pepper and serve Short Rib Ragu over your favorite pasta, polenta, or risotto with lots of Parmesan Cheese on top.