Beef Shank & Sausage Ragu over Bucatini
Adapted from Bon Appetit
Hands on time: 30 minutes plus 20 minutes after roasting
Roasting time: 2 ½ hours
Tastes even better the next day and freezes well
2 tsp fennel seeds
3 tbsp olive oil, divided
2 lb/900g sweet fennel sausages, casings removed (or hot Italian sausage if you prefer it very spicy)
3-3 ½ lb/1.3 -1.5kg beef shanks with bones cut into 1½” thick slices across the bone. – 3-4 pieces
3 large onions, chopped
2 cans (28oz/796ml) tomatoes in juice (just squish the tomatoes as you pour into the pot)
½ bottle robust red wine (the recipe actually called for a whole bottle -25oz/750ml but I couldn’t fit it all into my large Dutch oven. I used a lovely Italian Merlot)
8 large cloves garlic, chopped
4 bay leaves
2 tsp dried oregano
1-2 tsp dried red chili pepper flakes
1 box bucatini (500g/ 8oz) or whole grain spaghetti like the magazine suggests
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese (I like mine coarsely grated for this dish)
1/3 cup fresh Italian/flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F/175°C and prepare a large rimmed baking sheet by covering it with tin foil for easy clean up. The covered pot will bubble over.
2. Toast fennel seeds in a small dry skillet over medium low heat until slightly darker in color and very fragrant…about 3 minutes. Set aside.
3. Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large Dutch oven or other oven-proof pot over medium-high heat. Add the sausage meat and cook until brown with no pink in the center, stirring occasionally and breaking up the meat with a fork or back of a wooden spoon. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage meat to a large bowl.
4. Drain any liquid, and add another 1-2 tbsp oil. Sear the beef shanks which have been seasoned with a little pepper (about 5 minutes or so per side. They’re ready to flip when they no longer stick to the pan). Transfer seared shanks to the sausage meat.
5. Reduce heat to medium. Add onions to the pot and sauté until browned, scraping up the bits on the bottom. You might need a little more oil as well. (about 10 minutes)
6. Bon Appetit suggests returning beef shanks, sausage meat and any liquid back to the pot at this point, but I found my pot, large as it is, made it difficult to incorporate all the other ingredients. So….I added, tomatoes with juice, (I just squished the tomatoes through my fingers to mush them up a bit), garlic, bay leaves, oregano, crushed red pepper and toasted fennel. Mix to combine well. Add the meat, toss to coat and add as much wine as your pot will hold. Leave about 1”. Bring to a simmer.
7. Cover and place in the oven. Braise until very tender (at least 2 ½ hours). Transfer the beef shanks to a work surface and shred meat off the bones. Discard bones. Mine had lots of marrow, so I took a trip down memory lane and spread the warm marrow over fresh bread…delicious! Skim off any fat from the sauce and return shredded meat to the pot and simmer on top of the stove over medium heat until the liquid is reduced enough to coat the back of the spoon. (about 10 minutes). Taste for seasoning.
Can be made several days ahead. Warm over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
1. Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted water until al dente.
2. Drain and transfer to a large serving bowl. Add olive oil and toss to coat. Add the cheese and parsley and toss again.
3. Divide into individual serving bowls and ladle the ragu over it and serve.