Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Super Easy Short Rib Ragu

One of the beef cuts that seems to be getting a lot of attention lately is short ribs. This is a cut I haven't worked with very much. I have never seen them at my supermarket. But I asked my butcher fella at Tendercrop if they ever sold that cut (they raise their own beef cattle) and he cut me two of the least fatty ribs off the rack he was cutting. At $4 a pound, they weren't exactly cheap, but since he could only give me two pounds, I figured it was a frugal extravagance (oxymoron, I know).

I read a number of recipes for braised short ribs and realized that I'd need more than the two pounds I had to make them a centerpiece. I decided to stretch what I had into a ragu instead and served it over polenta with sauteed kale.

What's nice about a braise like this (aside from it tasting just great) is that the hands on time is very brief (about 20 minutes), so while it takes a while to make most of the time is hands-off. Plus, the overnight rest makes it taste even better, I swear.

So here's what I did to make the ragu (I'm writing the recipe in a stream-of-consciousness form because that's how I made it):

Short Rib Ragu
Serves 4

Heat some olive oil in a large saucepan over high heat. Pat the short ribs dry (I had two large pieces) and brown them well on all sides. This will take about 10 minutes. Remove the ribs from the pan and set aside on a plate.

Pour off some fat if there's a lot. Add 1 large onion, sliced, 4 cloves of garlic and 1/4 cup of dried porcini mushrooms. Saute until the onion softens. Add a bay leaf and a sprinkle of dried thyme to the pot.

Nestle the ribs back into the pot. Pour over 2 cups of red wine and 28 ounces diced tomatoes. Bring to a simmer and let simmer slowly until the ribs are fork tender. This took about two hours.

Remove the ribs and simmer down the sauce if it's too watery. When it's cool enough to handle, pull the rib meat off the bones, shred with fork and put the meat back into the sauce.

Let the ragu sit in the fridge over night. Lift off any fat that's on the surface (there will be a lot). Heat the sauce back up and taste for salt and pepper. Serve over polenta, mashed potatoes or noodles.

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