My 10-year-old daughter recently asked me if it was mean to eat meat. Today’s recipe really got me thinking about that question. Ribs do seem very personal, going all the way back to Adam and Eve. Be they pork or beef, smothered in BBQ sauce or braised in a ragu, ribs start off closest to the beating heart.
This was my response to her, “I don’t know. Is it mean for a shark to eat other fish? Or for the lion to prey on the antelope? Humans have been eating meat since the dawn of time, so there must be something natural about it. But that’s a really good question.”
What I did say is how we treat the animals that we eat can certainly be mean. We’ve all seen the photos and read the stories. Whether you eat meat or not, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that somewhere along the way we’ve lost respect for the animals that we eat. Perhaps we’re too far removed from their lives and deaths, and their preparation. (The McRib Sandwich is a harrowing reminder of this fact.)
I thought all about this while searing the ribs for this week’s Sunday Pasta. A few hours later, I watched my daughter eat off one of the bones with delight, almost the way a dog would do — with respect. I’ve taught her that much.
p.s. Check out our wine pairings to complement this dish.
In a large skillet, over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the short ribs and sear all sides, cook until they lose their color, and then add the wine. Allow most of the wine to evaporate. Remove from heat.
In a large pot, over medium heat, sauté the onion, carrots, and celery in the remaining olive oil until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic and cook until light golden. Add the short ribs, and after a couple of minutes, add the tomato puree, thyme, oregano, salt and pepper to taste. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 2 hours, stirring regularly, until thickened and meat is tender or is incorporated into the sauce. If too thick, add a bit of water or beef broth.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
Cook the pasta until al dente (about 1-2 minutes less than the manufacturer’s directions), and drain. Remove the ribs to a separate platter. Add the pasta to the sauce. Heat for a couple of minutes.
Serve with grated Parmigiano.