Most of my meals are vegetarian or vegan-ish. I have no problem with eating meat. But I usually cook for leftovers, and the idea of eating red meat every night for the rest of the week feels a bit…heavy. So most weeks, my my menu includes a big batches of a great soup and a hearty grain salad.
But them sometimes—sometimes I eat ragù. And oh my, it is about as far from a hearty grain salad as one can get. The way the braised meat practically melts over the pasta–the umami of the meat and cooked tomatoes–a glass of red wine on the side–it’s a visceral experience.
This recipe, in particular, is special. Unlike most ragù recipes, which start with ground meat and cook for around two hours, this one starts with whole shoulder chops and ribs. They braise, bone-in, for three hours, allowing the bones to infuse the sauce with flavor. Then, you remove the meat from the pot, shred, replace, and let boil for another two hours or so. The result is a ragù that is impossibly rich yet still very sauce-y.
There’s a chill in the air. This weekend, get this braising. Fall asleep on the couch reading the Sunday Times. Wake up, pour a glass of wine, and eat this.
Five-hour, three-meat ragù (serves 5 or so)
From The Amateur Gourmet
1 pound lamb shoulder chops (or lamb necks)
1 pound pork spareribs
1 pound beef short ribs
Salt and pepper
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 large carrot, peeled and finely diced
2 ribs celery, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
5 anchovy fillets, chopped
A healthy grating of nutmeg
1-2 cups white wine (I did a bit less so I could drink more)
One 28-ounce can crushed or diced tomatoes
One 15-ounce can plain tomato sauce (for my Australians: this is not the same as ketchup)
Handful of fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
Parmesan cheese (optional)
Short-cut pasta (I used strozzapreti, but penne or rigatoni would work, too), to serve
Pat the meat dry with paper towels; season with salt. Heat olive oil in a large, heavy pot, using enough to coat the entire bottom of the pot. Let heat until very hot. (If you are using a Dutch oven, as I did, you’ll know that you shouldn’t use high heat on enameled cookware–just give it some time on medium heat and it will get hot.) Brown the meat in batches on all sides, taking your time until you have a big pile of golden brown meat. Set aside.
Add a little more oil to the pot. Add the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, and anchovies. (I chopped veg while meat was browning.) Cook, stirring often, for about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and nutmeg. Add the wine and cook for about 3 minutes, letting the alcohol evaporate and making your kitchen smell amazing.
Return the meat to the pot and add the crushed tomatoes, the tomato sauce and 2 cups of water. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low and simmer the ragu for about 3 hours, stirring from time to time and adding more water if it gets too thick. (Or you can not stir and nap, instead.)
Remove all the meat from the pot with a pair of tongs and when it’s cool enough to handle, shred the meat, getting rid of any bones or gristle. Return the shredded meat to the pot and stir. Simmer for another 2 hours, adding water if the sauce gets too thick. Boil pasta right before you are ready to serve. Heap ragù on top of cooked pasta, serve garnished with parsley and parmesan.
Note: This recipe is, obviously, time-consuming. I don’t think my Dutch oven could fit double the ingredients called for here, but it might be worth making a recipe and a half and freezing the leftovers.