Beef shin is a tough cut of meat also called the shank and is cut from the front lower leg of a steer. It needs to cook slowly in order to tenderize it and bring out its delicious flavor. Some people braise it in a small amount of liquid for a long time and Nonna Saporito used it to make a flavorful beef soup. I oven cook it with onions, pancetta and tomatoes to make a ragu for short cuts of pasta like ziti. It is equally delicious mixed into rice, lentils and as a sauce for polenta. I start the preparation on the stovetop and finish it in the oven.
Makes 3 1/2 to 4 cups ragu sauce
2 tablespoons Filippo Berio extra virgin olive oil
1/4 pound pancetta, diced
1 medium onion, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
3 tablespoons tomato paste*
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
Grinding black pepper
1 1/4 pounds beef shin (center cut)
One 28-ounce can pureed plum tomatoes
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
4 tablespoons fresh minced basil
In a Dutch oven or other heavy-duty ovenproof casserole, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the pancetta and onions and cook until the pancetta renders its fat and begins to brown. Stir in the garlic and continue to cook for one or two minutes or until the garlic softens. Stir in the tomato paste, coating the pancetta mixture well and season everything with salt and pepper to taste.
Transfer the mixture to a small bowl and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
In the same pan, over medium high heat, brown the meat well on both sides and season with salt and pepper. Turn off the heat.
In a medium size bowl combine the tomatoes, vinegar and sugar. Stir in the onion mixture.
Pour the mixture over the meat. Cover the pot with a tight fitting lid and bake for 2 1/-3 hours or until the meat is fork tender.
With a slotted spoon remove the shank to a cutting board and when cool enough to handle, shred the meat into small pieces and add back to the pot with the sauce. Discard the bone.
Stir the basil into the sauce. Check the seasoning and add more salt and pepper if desired.
2 cups of the sauce is enough to coat a pound of ziti, rigatoni or fusilli.
The sauce can also be frozen for future use.
*Look for the Mutti brand when purchasing tomato paste in a can or tube. This superior tomato paste is one of the few made in Italy in Parma while many others are imported from elsewhere in the world and do not meet the same high standards.
This recipe is featured on show 2204 – Delicious Sauces – Le Salse Deliziose.
This recipe is from Ciao Italia Family Classics by Mary Ann Esposito.
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