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Entries in ragu (1)


Beef Short Rib Ragu



     Saturday, March 26th 12:07PM

     I woke up this morning just wanting to make stuff, and experiment in the kitchen.  It was supposed to be a miserable day here on the Island so I thought I’d break out my slow cooker for a swan song as we head towards the summer.  Note to self:  Don’t listen to the weathermen – it’s absolutely stunning outside!

     Now, short ribs and I have a love hate relationship.  They seem like a good idea at the time, kinda like a hamster for your kid, but when the cooking is all said and done – they’ve ended up being a disappointment…in my eyes.

      So I toddled off to the Fresh Market this morning and picked up a nice Boston butt with the thought of slow cooking it with tomatoes, carrots, onions, blah blah blah…you know all the traditional beginnings that would make a hearty Ragu.

      Still clutching my butt, I waltzed past the beef counter, glanced at the short ribs on sale and smirked.  Nope, I wasn’t getting into that “seems like a good idea at the time” thing again or fall for the romantic notion that SR’s are really the “it” food of late.  Then I heard something… 

     “Give us a second chance…please, we won’t disappoint,” the short ribs begged.

They did look good sitting in the display case all meaty and marbled, but still I held my butt tight not wanting to be lured into their we’re hearty and tasty trap.

     “No!” I said a bit louder than I should have.

     “May I help you?”  Jim, the butcher guy behind the counter asked with a who is she talking to look.  The ribs kept at it… 

       “Hey, Miss smarty-pants cook.   Did you ever think maybe it might be YOU not us that can’t get it right?  Plenty of others sing our praises.”

     “What did you say?” I asked.

     “May I help you Miss?” Jim said looking around.

     “You’re a chicken.” It was the ribs again.

     “Chicken? Me?”  That was it, the ribs were chastising me, mocking me now.  It was throw down time.

     “Would you like a chicken?”  Jim asked.

     “No, no…I have my butt.”  I said proudly.

     Jim smiled, “short ribs on sale if you’re interested.”

     “Hmmm, on sale?”  I looked at my butt then back at the ribs.  “I’ll show you.”

     “Excuse me?” Jim was confused at this point, so was I.

     “I’ll take eight short-ribs please Jim.”

Jim handed me my package and I heard a muffled “you won’t be sorry.”

     “Thank you and I better not be.”  I said and smiled at Jim.

      So now I’ve got short ribs in my slow cooker smelling wonderful and getting all rich and thick.  Oh, and a Boston butt in the fridge for sometime next week.

     Saturday, March 26, 2011 – 7:30PM

OMG!  Make this tomorrow!  This sauce is rich, hearty, with a bit of a kick, tender and tasty!   The ribs were right.

Serves 4-6 – depending on how hungry you are


8 short ribs (about 4lbs)

4 medium carrots, diced

1 large onion, diced

1 bulb fennel, white part only, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

3 oz shitake mushroom, stems removed and caps roughly chopped

1 ½ teaspoons red pepper flakes

2 tablespoons dried oregano

1 28oz can crushed tomatoes

1 1/3 cup red wine

3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Salt and pepper

Light olive oil for browning

Grated Parmesan cheese for serving


     Season short ribs with salt and pepper.  Heat a little olive oil in a heavy skillet when screaming hot, working in batches so you don’t crowd the ribs, brown them on all sides until well caramelized. 

Transfer ribs to the slow cooker.  Whisk tomatoes, 1 cup of  red wine and balsamic vinegar together in a medium bowl.  Pour over ribs and set slow cooker for 3 hours on high. 

     In the same skillet cook onions, carrots and fennel over medium heat until softened about 3-5 minutes.  Add garlic and mushrooms; cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. 

Add the remaining 1/3-cup of wine and cook until syrupy and almost evaporated, about 5 minutes or so.  Add the onion mixture to the short ribs, stir to distribute, cover then let the slow cooking begin. 

     After 3 hours, remove ribs from slow cooker and cut the meat from the bones.  Trim away any gristly fat and discard.  Shred the meat and return it to the slow cooker.  Continue cooking for another 3 hours on low.  Skim any fat you can from the top - it’s easier if you cool the Ragu.   Serve over rigatoni with grated Parmesan cheese. 

It’s All Delicious Notes:  This can be made two days ahead.  Remove the fat that accumulates before re-heating.  Also – you can make this in a Dutch oven on top of the stove or by roasting it in the oven at 300°F.  Either way the key is low and slow – dare I say, you can’t cook this too long.  This recipe was adapted from Ciao Italia- Slow and Easy by Mary Ann Esposito.