Short Ribs in Red Wine Sauce

Short Ribs in Red Wine SauceOf Sauce and Sorrow
About a week or so ago I made my favorite pasta sauce. The weather has actually been cooler than normal thanks, sadly, to all of the smoke and ash in the air. The drop in temp put me in to full-on fall cooking mode. So, I got out my slow cooker and went to work.

I was excited to make this sauce because I don’t make it very often—and it is truly one of my most favorite dinners. The main component is short ribs, which I love but can’t eat all that often. (If I would like to live long and prosper.) That being said, the recipe makes a lot, even for my family of five. So, we eat the short ribs with the sauce for Sunday dinner. And, then I freeze the rest of the leftover sauce to be used, over rigatoni or whatever boxed pasta I have in the pantry, for a mid-week meal somewhere on down the road. It’s a win-win. Until it’s not…

I woke up that Sunday morning looking forward to a great meal that had my mouth watering all day long. My daughter made some beautiful fresh pappardelle pasta and left it out to dry while the short ribs bubbled away in the crock pot. When everything was done we feasted on a rich and meaty short rib pasta dinner that was everything I had anticipated and hoped for. After dinner, we did the dishes that could be done and left the others to be loaded in the dishwasher the next morning. Just like normal.

The next morning when my alarm went off, I had this sense that something wasn’t right. Like I had forgotten something, but I couldn’t figure it out. I went ahead with my morning routine getting ready to go to work and when I emerged from my bedroom into the kitchen I realized what the problem was. In the chaos of cleaning the kitchen, we had set the slow cooker off to the side so the sauce could cool before I put it in containers and threw it in the freezer. You know the phrase out of sight out of mind? Turns out I left the sauce out uncovered overnight. I was distraught. My husband thought someone died—though he was equally despondent when he realized we were going to have to throw out all the leftovers.

Here’s the thing. I am fairly militant about food temps and storage. I tend to be overly conservative when it comes to the potential for food poisoning. I err on the side of caution. Sometimes to a fault. Though I do invoke the 5-second rule on occasion, there was no way I was going to be okay with keeping a meat-based pasta sauce that had been left out uncovered for 12 hours. It killed me to toss it. I am still emotional about it…which probably says more about my mental health during these wacky times than anything else. I mean it is only pasta sauce. But it was a spot of happy excitement during a time when bad news was the norm. And, then that got 2020-ed as well. Sigh.

Here is the recipe for the sauce. It is one that I have posted before because, as I said, it’s a favorite and I highly recommend you give it a try. Just don’t forget to put it away…

Short Ribs in Red Wine Sauce
Adapted from Slow Cooker Revolution by America’s Test Kitchen
Makes 12 cups

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 onions, minced
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 celery rib, minced
1/4 cup tomato paste
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups dry red wine
(28-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
1 (28-ounce) can tomato puree
2 bay leaves
3 pounds boneless beef short ribs (English or Flanken style), trimmed and cut into 1 1/2-inch chunks
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley

Cook the vegetables
Heat the oil in a twelve-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the onions, carrots, celery, tomato paste, and garlic. Cook until vegetables are softened and lightly browned, for about 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the wine, scraping up any browned bits, and simmer until thickened, about 6 minutes. Transfer to slow cooker.

Cook the beef
Stir in diced tomatoes, tomato puree, and bay leaves. Season the beef with salt and pepper and nestle into the mixture in the slow cooker. Cover and cook until beef is tender, 9 to 11 hours on low or 5 to 7 hours on high.

Let the sauce settle for 5 minutes. Remove the fat from the surface using large spoon. Discard the bay leaves. Break up the pieces of beef with a spoon. Before serving, stir in the minced parsley and season with salt and pepper to taste.

If you want to make this dish in the oven rather than a slow cooker, there are a few adaptations. We recommend that you sear the short ribs in oil first, and then set them aside while you prepare the rest of the sauce. Return the spare ribs to the pot before placing it in the oven. Bake in a covered dutch oven, in the center of an oven set to 325 ºF, until the meat can easily be pulled apart with two forks (about  for 3 hours)

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