This is my spin on a typical dish from Piedmont, where I grew up. Usually in Italy, braised meat is taken from a leg of veal or beef. Since short ribs are not often used there, this recipe involves an American cut of meat with an Italian sauce. The ribs are moist and familiar to U.S. diners, and I often serve them with mashed potatoes or polenta. In Piedmont, we use Barolo wine, but this dish can be made with any hearty red wine of your choice; just remember, a dish is the sum of all its parts. — Chef Nicotra
- ½ ounce dried porcini
- Four bone-in beef short ribs (1 pound), cut into 3 pieces each
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 thick slices pancetta or bacon, chopped
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 medium carrots, chopped
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 2 fresh bay leaves
- Pinch of ground cloves
- 2 cups Barolo or other good-quality red wine
- 1 cup canned whole plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, crushed by hand
- 2 cups chicken stock, plus more as needed
Soak the porcini in 1 cup boiling water until softened, about 15 minutes. Drain and chop; reserve the porcini and the soaking liquid.
Heat a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Season the short ribs with salt and pepper. Add 2 tablespoons of the oil to the pot. When the oil is hot, brown the short ribs all over, about 5 minutes total. Remove them to a plate. Pour out any oil left in the pot, and wipe it clean with a paper towel.
Return the pot to medium heat, and add the remaining 2 tablespoons oil and the pancetta. Cook until the pancetta has crisped and rendered its fat, about 2 minutes. Add the onion and carrots, and cook until wilted, about 4 minutes. Clear a space in the pan, and add the tomato paste. Cook and stir the tomato paste in that spot for a minute, then stir into the vegetables. Add the rosemary, bay leaves, and cloves, and stir. Pour in the wine, bring to a boil, and cook until reduced by half, about 2 minutes, Stir in the tomatoes. Add the short ribs back to the pot, and pour in the stock. The level of liquid should just barely come up to the tops of the short ribs. If it doesn’t, add more stock. Season lightly with salt, and bring to a simmer. Cover the pot, and cook, turning the short ribs once or twice in the sauce, until they are very tender, about 2 hours.
Remove the short ribs from the sauce. Pass the sauce through a food mill or press through a fine strainer back into the pot. Degrease in a fat-separating cup, if desired. Return the short ribs and sauce to the pot to reheat before serving.