Braised meat is bomb. There is nothing more tender or better at serving up saucy goodness. But, I don’t want to focus on what you guys already know, so let’s talk about (braised) meat sauce. We’re all familiar with Bolognese and this recipe is really a slightly more complex variation of that classic, at least as far as flavor. It also plays with the old school concepts of gravy making, e.g. not from a packet and not from drippings alone. You take your mirepoix/soffrito, you hard sear some bone-in-meat in the middle of it, add liquid, reduce over a long period of time, and voila.
There are some individuals who will refer to sauces like this one as a “Sunday gravy.” The idea being that on a Sunday, before church, your mom or grandma would wake up early and get to work cooking. They’d do all the hard stuff before you even got out of bed, and leave a beautiful sauce simmering softly in the pot as the whole family trucked off to mass in their Sunday best. When you got home, the intoxicating smell announced that Sunday gravy awaited you in all its glory. It was your reward for strapping on uncomfortable clothes and sitting still for a couple hours, but it was also the centerpiece of the big family meal of the week.
My brother is probably the only person under the age of 90 who still uses the term “Sunday gravy”, but the point is well taken. This is a thick, extremely flavorful sauce, with all the hallmarks of comfort food, that is best consumed with friends or family, especially with a couple bold bottles of red wine. I warn you, this sauce could be coma inducing.
Just a couple of notes on the different types of meat you could use if short ribs are unavailable – pork shoulder is a great option here but depending on the thickness may require a longer cook time. Lamb and veal shank are also classic choices. Additionally, you don’t have to serve this sauce over regular pasta. Depending on how meaty or how long you reduce, this could be the base of a phenomenal sandwich. You could even use this sauce as a heartier component of a homemade lasagna or baked ziti.