Short-rib ragu

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“The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” my father tells me every time I do something that reminds me of him. I am not too dissimilar and there is little doubting I am my father’s son, so I am told.

I made a ragu from a combination of things I found in my fridge and pantry. It is the kind of thing my dad would have done. Neither of us enjoys wasting things. His soups, which he made the day before my mother re-stocked the fridge, were constructs of limp and passed-their-best vegetables. They were delicious. Always.

I started with the meat drawer and found a handful of short ribs that had been bought for a soup, only half of which had been used. A pound each of pork and beef mince, similarly close to their sell-by date. It was a slow-cooking kind of day and I wanted something that would feed me through the weekend. The resulting ragu was as good as anything my father would have produced, though he would have probably thrown in a mouldy cabbage for an extra je ne sais quoi.


  • A handful of short ribs
  • Minced beef and pork (a couple of pounds or more)
  • Some streaky bacon, say four rashers, diced
  • Two onions, finely chopped
  • A couple of carrots (old ones will do, but I guess fresh would be preferable)
  • Two stalks of celery
  • Load of garlic, finely chopped (at least 8 cloves)
  • A large tin of chopped tomatoes
  • (Any other tomatoes you have lying at the bottom of your fridge)
  • A tin of tomato sauce
  • Tomato paste
  • Red wine
  • Lots of fresh basil
  • A dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • A dash of Tabasco (optional)


  • A large skillet
  • A casserole


  1. Sweat the onions in the skillet in some good olive oil (about 10 minutes)
  2. Add the bacon and garlic, cook for a few minutes and transfer to the casserole.
  3. Brown the short ribs, a couple of minutes each side. Then brown the minced beef and pork, a bit at a time. Transfer to the casserole as you go.
  4. Deglaze the skillet with a splash of wine, making sure you get all those good crusty bits, and transfer to the casserole.
  5. Add the tomatoes, the tomato sauce, a tablespoon or two of tomato paste and, say, two glasses of wine (I used really old stuff that had been saved for just this kind of occasion).
  6. Give the casserole a really good stir and let it come to a simmer.
  7. Season well (add some dried herbs if you like, chilies, whatever), add the Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco and tear lots of basil leaves and add them to the pot.
  8. Cover and let it cook for 4 to 5 hours in an oven set to no more than 300°F. Check it hourly to make sure it is OK. It is done when the meat has fallen away from the ribs and dissolves on the tongue. You’ll know when it is ready.
  9. Add some more basil and serve it over pasta, rice, potatoes, bread, vegetables, tacos, tortillas…
Re: Short-rib ragu

Re: Short-rib ragu

What is a rasher of bacon?

Re: Short-rib ragu

As this recipe looks delicious and I would love to get it a go.