Just before Christmas we had a family dinner at my brother-in-laws Aunt’s house. Zia Sonia is an amazing cook and when I heard she was making her famous gnocchi for dinner I volunteered to bring along the sauce and asked if I could come early to learn how she makes her pillow-soft gnocchi. I’ll share her technique and recipe in my next post but for now here is the ragu I made. The recipe is from Australian Gourmet Traveller and it’s a real keeper. Whilst it’s not difficult to execute it does take a lot of inactive cooking time – six hours to be exact but it’s worth it for the depth of flavour the sauce develops. I also like the quite unusual method of adding the stock in small batches and letting it cook down between each addition, creating layers of intense flavour. If you can, try to make the sauce a day in advance of when you’re going to serve it, not only will the flavours develop more but it’s also easier to skim off the fat once it’s been cooled in the fridge overnight. Gnocchi is a great accompaniment for this ragu but it would also be very good with pappardelle or fettucine.
Ingredients – Serves 8 generously & freezes well Adapted from Australian Gourmet Traveller
You’ll need to start this recipe the day before
1.8 kg beef short ribs
2 cups red wine
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 onions, finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 each carrot and celery stalk, diced
2 tablespoons tomato paste
8 cups beef stock
800gm canned whole tomatoes, crushed by hand
4 rosemary sprigs
1 bay leaf
Place beef ribs in a non-reactive container that fits ribs snugly, add wine, cover and refrigerate overnight. Preheat oven to 150C. Heat oil in a casserole over medium heat, remove ribs from wine (reserve 1 cup), pat dry on absorbent paper and cook, turning occasionally, until golden (5-7 minutes). Remove ribs and set aside, reduce heat to low, add vegetables and tomato paste and stir occasionally until tender (12-15 minutes).
Add reserved red wine and cook until reduced by half (5-7 minutes), scraping residue as you go, then add half the stock one cup at a time, reducing completely after each addition (10-12 minutes).
Add tomato, rosemary, bay leaf, remaining stock and ribs, cover and roast in the oven, turning ribs occasionally, until meat is falling from the bone (4-6 hours). When cool enough to handle, coarsely shred meat with a fork (discard bones, fatty sinew and herb stalks), season to taste and serve tossed with gnocchi (or papparadelle/fettucine) and scattered with freshly grated pecorino or parmesan cheese.