Italian Sausage and Beef Shank Ragú
Paired with Alamos Cabernet Sauvignon

Fall is upon us. Here’s to cozy sweaters, comfort food and full bodied reds.

This hearty, meaty ragú, is made with flavourful bone-in beef shanks and hot Italian sausage, slowly simmered in a rich red wine tomato sauce.

Don’t be daunted by the cooking time. The dish is the ideal thing to make on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Curl up with a good book and a glass of wine while the house fills with delicious aromas.  A concentrated, full bodied red like Alamos Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 would be a solid pairing for this dish.

Serves 6 to 8

2 tbsp olive oil
1 lb. hot Italian sausage, casings removed
1 lb. beef shanks with bone (if beef shanks are not readily available substitute with stewing beef)
1 lb. stewing beef, cubed and trimmed
1/4 cup flour
1 large onion, diced
1 28 oz. can diced San Marzano tomatoes with juice
2 cups, plus 4 tbsp dry red wine
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp fennel seeds that have been lightly toasted in a dry skillet until fragrant
2 bay leaves
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp crushed chili flakes (optional)

1 lb. spaghetti or your favourite pasta, cooked al dente
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 cup finely chopped Italian parsley

Preheat oven to 350 F.

In a large oven proof pot over medium, heat 2 tbsp olive oil and add the sausage, breaking it up with the back of a wooden spoon, and cook until browned, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, remove the sausage to a large bowl.

Sprinkle the beef shanks with salt and pepper and in the same oven proof pot, sear both sides until browned, about 6 minutes per side. Remove from heat and add to the same bowl as the cooked sausage.

In a small bowl, season the flour with a pinch of salt and pepper. Add the cubed stewing beef and toss to coat. Remove the beef, leaving the excess flour behind and add to the same oven proof pot. Saute until the beef has browned on all sides and then remove the cubes to the large bowl with shanks and sausage.

Deglaze the pot by adding 4 tbsp of red wine and scraping with a wooden spoon all the brown bits from the bottom of the pot. Add the diced onion and saute over medium heat until just softened. Add the minced garlic and saute one minute. Add the toasted fennel seeds, bay leaves, oregano, chili flakes (if using), diced canned tomatoes and their juices, 2 cups red wine and stir to combine. Add back the cooked sausage, beef shanks and stewing beef with any accumulated juices.

Increase heat to medium high and continue to cook until a gentle simmer. Cover the pot and place in the preheated oven. Braise until the meat is very tender, about 2 ½ hours.

Using a slotted spoon, remove the meat from the pot. Cut the meat off the bones and dice. Discard bones. Bring the liquid to a rolling boil and continue to cook until the sauce is reduced enough that it coats the back of a spoon, about 10 minutes. Add back the braised meat and season the ragú with salt and pepper to taste. The sauce can be made to this point 2 days ahead and kept refrigerated.

Serve ragú over your favourite pasta, topped with freshly grated Parmesan and chopped Italian parsley.

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