If you’re anything like me, you appreciate and enjoy the flavors and nuances found in a patiently long-simmered sauce or braise.
When a food that needs tenderizing has the opportunity to simmer, bubble, deepen and develop without being rushed or hurried along, it becomes one of the most glorious and amazingly delicious things that one can put into their mouth.
A rich, braised beef and porcini mushroom ragù that has been given the luxurious gift of time to become full-bodied, aromatic, earthy, and succulent, is a sauce that will not only dance on the palette of the one taking careful and lingering bites, but nourish and enliven their soul, and provide an extraordinary example of the glorious effects of time on something worth partaking in.
See, time is something that so many of us have a tumultuous relationship with; we both long to have more of it, yet also resist it in many ways as it reminds us of our mortality.
But time is a wonderful agent of change; it is an agent in the development of not only the wonderful food that we partake in (think even of fruits on a vine), but in the development and maturing of the human soul that also needs this merciful gift to “ripen” it to its full sweetness, strength, and depth.
Just as delectable beef short ribs need the gift of time to tenderize and become fork-tender and yielding in a savory sauce that then richly coats the mouth, the human needs time to develop those inner “fruits”, those attributes of a spiritual nature, that he or she then gives out to others to partake in and, ideally, be nourished by.
And just as we would never consider something “completed” while still in a tough, non-tenderized or “unripened” (green) state, we should take care not to call ourselves “completed” before we’ve had proper time to learn, grow, and become tender-hearted and easily yielding.
In my mind, there’s no escaping the fact that we need time to become fully who we were meant to be, as it is the very thing that teaches us so many lessons and provides us with so much understanding of ourselves due to the various circumstance that we find ourselves in on a daily basis.
Time teaches us how to self-scrutinize; it teaches us patience.
It also teaches us what is important in life, how to love less selfishly, how to properly and appropriately wield those unique attributes that have been placed within each of us, and what it means to be wise.
And what greater things could one desire when one is looking to experience a life well-lived?
Each of us have a unique amount of time that we are invited to use in order to grow in our understanding, and to become soft-hearted, empathetic, loving, kind, and merciful.
My hope is that we can recognize that time is a good thing, and is, in fact, on our side.
May we be developed and slow-simmered—matured—by every experience that we’re gifted with, and may our inner fruits—our qualities—be made utterly delicious and worth savoring by all who partake.
Taste what’s good and pass it on.
Spaghetti in Rich Braised Beef and Porcini Mushroom Ragù
by Ingrid Beer
Yield: Serves about 6
• 1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
• 3 pounds beef short ribs
• Black pepper
• 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
• 1 onion, chopped
• 1 carrot, peeled and chopped
• 1 rib celery, chopped
• 6 cloves garlic, pressed through garlic press
• 2 tablespoons tomato paste
• ½ cup red wine
• 1 cup beef stock
• 1 (28 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
• 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
• 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
• 1 (16 ounce) package spaghetti, cooked according to package instructions, and held warm
• Parmesan cheese, for garnish
-Preheat the oven to 325°.
-Add the dried porcini mushrooms to a small bowl, and pour 1 cup of boiling water over them; cover, and allow them to soak/rehydrate for about 10 minutes; then, strain them, and squeeze any excess liquid out of them (if you find them to be a bit gritty, give them a rinse and squeeze dry); set the mushrooms aside.
-Place a large, heavy-bottom braising pan or Dutch oven over medium high heat, and add in about 4-5 tablespoons of oil.
-While the oil heats, sprinkle the short ribs with about 1 teaspoon of the salt, and ½ teaspoon of the pepper, plus the flour; toss to coat them.
-Add 2-3 ribs into the braising pan (you’ll need to work in a couple of batches), and brown the ribs on all sides, about 4 minutes per side; remove from pan when brown, and repeat until all ribs are browned; set them aside for a moment.
-Next, skim a little of the oil out of the pan if necessary, so that you’re left with about 3-4 tablespoons; add in the onion, carrot, and celery, plus a tiny pinch of salt and pepper, and saute those (scraping up any browned bits from the bottom) until slightly softened and golden, about 3 minutes.
-Add in the garlic, and stir that in; once it becomes aromatic, add in the tomato paste, and stir that in to incorporate, and cook for about 1 minute to cook out the raw flavor.
-Next, add in the red wine, and allow it to slightly reduce, about 30 seconds (it’ll look slightly thickened).
-Add in the beef stock, the can of crushed tomatoes, the Italian seasoning, the porcini mushrooms, and ½ teaspoon of salt, and stir to combine.
-Add the ribs back into the pan, and nestle them into the sauce; bring the mixture to a vigorous simmer, then cover tightly with a lid, and turn off the heat; place the braising pan/Dutch oven into the oven (middle or lower rack), and braise (bake) until the meat is fork tender and easily falling from the bone, for about 2 ½ hours.
-Once tender, remove the beef ribs from the braising pan and set them aside for a moment to cool slightly until they can be handled; once slightly cooled, shred the meat using your fingers or a couple of forks (discarding the more fatty/cartilage-y bits), and set it aside for a moment.
-Skim the excess fat from the top of sauce, and using a fork, lightly mash up any larger pieces of veggies, like the carrots and celery (most of the veggies will have pretty much melted into the sauce during the braising process); stir in the chopped parsley, and check to see is any additional salt/pepper is needed.
-Return the shredded beef to the sauce and stir it in to incorporate.
-Serve the ragu over the spaghetti (or even toss some spaghetti directly in some of the ragu with a pair of tongs), and serve with a little parmesan over top.