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When I started my retirement travels - the first of which was my solo overseas trip to Italy in 2009 - I wanted a way to share it with family and friends as it happened. Hence, "My Travel Journal". However I realized I wouldn't always be on a trip and wondered what to do with the blog in between times. My daughter pointed out, wisely, that travels can also include trips to the kitchen to try a new recipe, trips to visit family, trips to my neighborhood Starbucks, or a fun day trip with a friend. You're welcome to join me on any of these journeys!

P.S. I've set up separate pages for each of my major trips (see tabs above).

I recently added an "Italian Word a Day" thingie which shows up at the bottom of every page. You see the word and can click to hear it pronounced. I've been enjoying it and I think my accent is improving as time goes by.

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December 01, 2008

Short Rib Ragu

(from Fine Cooking magazine, Mar. 2006, pg 45)
Serves 6

3 to 4 pounds short ribs (preferably English style) or chuck roast
Salt and pepper
2 T olive oil
3 oz. thick sliced pancetta or bacon, cut in ½ “ squares
1 med. yellow onion, diced (about 1 heaping cup)
1 celery stalk, diced (about ½ cup)
1 carrot, diced (about ½ cup)
½ c. sliced mushrooms
3 large garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 T tomato paste
Pinch red pepper flakes
½ c. dry white wine or dry vermouth
1 28 oz. can whole, peeled tomatoes

I made various changes to this as noted below and got numerous meals out of it in different guises.

Preheat oven to 300.  Trip away excess fat.  (If using short ribs, trim down to the first layer of meat, but don’t remove the silverskin that holds ribs together or to the bone)

Pat meat dry and season with salt and pepper. Heat oil in 5 to 6 quart Dutch oven, over medium heat until hot and thoroughly brown meat.  Pour off and discard most of the fat from the pot. Return pot to medium heat and cook bacon until some of the fat is rendered but bacon is not crisp, about 3 minutes.  Add onion, celery, carrot, mushrooms and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Cook stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes. Add tomato paste and red pepper flakes and cook 2 more minutes, stirring. Add wine, increase heat to medium high, stir to scrape up brown bits and bring to a boil. Add tomatoes and the juice and bring to a simmer.

Return the meat to the pot, nestling it in the sauce. Crumple a large sheet of parchment paper and smooth it out again. Arrange it over the pot, pressing it down so it nearly touches the ribs, Set the lid in place and transfer to the oven. Braise, turning meat every 45 minutes until fork tender (about 2-1/2 hours).

*Transfer meat to shallow pan and allow to cool.  Meanwhile, skim any visible surface fat from liquid and bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat, breaking up tomatoes, if necessary.  If sauce seems watery, increase heat and simmer to thicken. 


This was delicious!   I used a chuck roast instead of short ribs (I couldn’t find the ribs and I wanted extra meat).  Used bacon rather than pancetta, and used portobellos rather than white mushrooms.

*I made it ahead and refrigerated the meat and sauce separately, so I could remove the solidified fat from the sauce when chilled. 

I cut the recipe in half using a 15 oz. can of diced tomatoes (and my normal sized chuck roast).  Then I only used half the meat for the ragu and saved the other half to make my (normally from pot roast) chili.  I served the ragu on spiral pasta and think it would have been easier to eat on penne pasta or even fettucine or some other noodle.

I used the leftover ragu in a polenta/ragu recipe from my "Ready When You Are" cookbook (cutting that recipe in half also) and it was wonderful and enough for 2 meals.

And I used the leftover meat to make my chili and there was no discernible difference from when I make chili with my regular pot roast.  So, I got at least 6 meals out of this and I think I froze some leftover meat to make chili again later.

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