Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Beef Short Ribs Braised in Tomato Sauce

This dish brought me one of the best compliments I could get - my mom said thought she was eating her mother's food.

Growing up, we spent almost every Sunday afternoon at my grandmom's house, and she would always cook a big meal. We aren't Italian, but my grandmother's cooking was very Italian influenced as our family was from Yugoslavia near northern Italy.

She loved to slow cook meats in sauce, and when I saw this recipe for
Beef Short Ribs Braised in Tomato Sauce on The Way the Cookie Crumbles, I immediately thought of how my house would smell while cooking - it would smell like my gradmom's house.

I'm not sharing the picture until the end of the post, because my picture just doesn't do this meal justice (but check out Bridget's picture in the link to her blog - she not only creates fabulous recipes, she takes beautiful food photos!). This meal was so good, so comforting, the flavors were so layered and full, and it tasted like my grandmom's cooking.


  • 1/2 oz dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 4 (3-4 lbs) beef short ribs; I used 4 lbs and it was 8 short ribs
  • salt
  • 3 oz pancetta, diced
  • 1 onion, diced small
  • 1 carrot, diced small
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp oregano; I used dried oregano
  • 1/2 c wine; Bridget suggests red or white, something not too sweet or not too oaky. I used a California cab
  • 2 (28 ounce) cans whole tomatoes with their juice
Directions - these are Bridget's exact directions, just broken out to see the steps a little easier. I didn't change a thing as far as the recipe/cooking method is concerned.
  • Rinse the mushrooms to remove any dirt clinging to them. Cover them with 1/2 c water in a small microwave-safe bowl. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap, poke a few holes in the plastic wrap, and microwave on high power for 30 seconds. Let stand until the mushrooms are softened, about 5 minutes. Use a fork to lift the mushrooms from the liquid; mince the mushrooms, reserving the liquid.

  • Season the beef ribs with salt. Meanwhile, in a 5-quart Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat until it flows like water when the pot is tilted. Add the beef ribs and cook, for 2-3 minutes per side, until richly browned on all sides . Remove the ribs from the pot (I had to do this in 2 batches).

  • Lower the heat to medium and add the pancetta to the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the fat is rendered and the pancetta is crisp. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the pancetta to the plate with the short ribs. Drain all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pot.

  • Add the onions and carrots; cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned on the edges, 6-8 minutes.

  • Stir in the garlic, tomato paste, mushrooms, and oregano; cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

  • Pour in the wine; scrape up the browned bits on the bottom of the pot.

  • Stir in the tomatoes, beef ribs, pancetta, mushroom soaking liquid (being careful to leave any dirt behind), and 1 teaspoon salt.

  • Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 hours.

  • After 2 hours, remove the cover, increase the heat to medium low, and simmer for another hour, until the beef is tender.

  • Transfer the ribs to a plate; shred the meat.

  • Meanwhile, if the sauce is too thin, increase the heat to medium-high and simmer until it reaches the desired thickness. I didn't have to do this.

  • Stir the meat back into the sauce. Taste for seasoning, adding salt if necessary, and serve over pasta or polenta.
I served the meat over a polenta that I made with 3/4 c stone ground yellow cornmeal, 3 c chicken broth, a few pinches of thyme, and some shredded Pecorino-Romano cheese and it went perfectly.

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  1. That's always the best compliment to hear, especially from your mom! Sounds delicious!

  2. I think the best compliment from as creative a cook as you is that you didn't need to make any changes! I'm so glad you liked this!

  3. Your photos are always so impressive - it if weren't for your photos, I don't think my photos would have evolved. I still struggle with lighting as it's rare that I have the food done during the daytime so I can utilize natural light. And your recipes are always great too - simple and direct. I can smell how delicious this must have been!

  4. another way to make one of my staples taste different, sweet