Food52's Short Rib Ragu

short rib ragu
Sarah Shatz

Short rib ragu may not be the first thing you think of when planning your holiday cooking as humble braises often take a backseat to large elegant roasts. But not much can beat the decadent richness of a properly braised pot of short ribs. Add a thick, mushroomy sauce as Minimally Invasive's winning recipe in the new Food52 Cookbook suggests, and you'll be on your way to making holiday meal history.

While many of the ingredients in the ragu are fairly standard, it is the surprise touches, like Worcestershire sauce and Dijon mustard, that really set this ragu apart. Each adds another layer of tangy and savory complexity to counter the rich meatiness of the ribs.

Why I picked this recipe: Short ribs are one of the best cuts for braising; their preparation as a ragu makes for an elegant and unique (yet easy) option for a holiday meal.

What worked: Unctuous, meaty, and laden with mushroomy umami, this is one seriously comforting dish. Be sure to include the gremolata; its verdant brightness keeps the richness at bay.

What didn't: Don't be shy about reducing the final sauce before tossing it with the shredded meat.

Suggested tweaks: Amanda and Merrill suggest pasta instead of polenta as a serving option; you could also take the dish in a North African direction by using couscous as well.

Reprinted with permission from The Food52 Cookbook, Volume 2 by Amanda Hesser and Merill Stubbs, copyright 2012. Published by William Morrow, an imprint of Harper Collins. All rights reserved. Available wherever books are sold.

Recipe Facts

Active: 45 mins
Total: 24 hrs
Serves: 8 to 10 servings

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  • For the Ragu:
  • 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
  • 5 to 6 pounds short ribs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, bacon fat, or lard
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon anchovy paste
  • Half a 750-ml bottle red wine
  • 1 (14-ounce) can fire-roasted tomatoes, with their juices
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 to 4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 large rosemary sprig, leaves removed and chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 to 5 cups chicken stock, low-sodium broth, or water
  • For the Gremolata:
  • 1 large garlic clove, minced
  • Grated zest of 1 large lemon
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Hot polenta, for serving


  1. For the Ragu: (Note: This is best prepared one day before serving). Heat oven to 350°F (180°C). Soak dried mushrooms in 2 cups boiling water for at least 10 minutes, until soft.

  2. Meanwhile, season ribs well with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large ovenproof heavy pot (such as a 5-quart enameled cast iron Dutch oven) over medium heat until shimmering. Brown ribs in batches for 2 to 3 minutes per side; set aside.

  3. Pour out all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pot, then sauté onion, carrots, and celery until soft. Add garlic and stir until fragrant. Create a hot spot in the pot by moving vegetables aside, leaving about a 3-inch circle bare. Add tomato paste and anchovy paste to the hot spot and stir vigorously until caramelized, then stir this mixture into vegetables.

  4. Add red wine to deglaze the pot and cook until the liquid is reduced by half. Add tomatoes, mustard, and Worcestershire sauce. Lift mushrooms from the soaking liquid and add to the pot, then add the soaking liquid, minus the last 1/4 inch to keep sediment out of your dish, and herbs. Add ribs back to the pot, then add enough chicken stock so ribs are nearly covered.

  5. Bring liquid to a boil, then cover tightly and braise in the oven for at least 3 hours, or until the ribs are fall-apart tender.

  6. Remove ribs from the braising liquid and set aside until cool enough to handle. Meanwhile, remove bay leaves from braising liquid and discard. Purée braising liquid with an immersion blender (or in batches in a regular blender, then return to the pot). Set the pot over medium-low heat to reduce if sauce seems thin.

  7. When ribs have cooled, remove and discard bones and any large pieces of fat. Shred beef and return it to the pot. Let cool to room temperature, skimming any large pools of fat from the surface, and refrigerate overnight.

  8. For the Gremolata: The next day, mix all ingredients in a small bowl and let sit at room temperature for an hour before serving.

  9. Remove any solidified fat from the surface of ragu and reheat. Serve over polenta, sprinkled with gremolata.