This dish reminds me of Pappardelle with Wild Boar Ragu from New York City’s famous Via Carota restaurant, owned by Rita Sodi and Jody Williams. That dish was seared (pun intended) into my memory and while I’ve made short ribs before, they have never tasted quite like this. This is such a hearty and rich pasta dish! Featuring San Marzano tomatoes, the sauce is entirely homemade and slow cooked to perfection with wine and stock to develop that delicious richness that only comes from slow cooking. By cooking bone-in meat in the sauce, the bones add a depth of flavor that can’t be duplicated and the fat melts into the meat, breaking it down and making it oh so tender! This dish is perfect for an Italian themed dinner party and it’s one that your friends won’t soon forget. Pair it with good wine, crusty bread and great company for an unforgettable evening.
Note: If you are in NYC, you must stop by Via Carota, Buvette (one of my favorite places) or I Sodi in the village. You’ll thank me later.
HERE’S HOW I MADE IT
As always, chop, prep and measure out all your ingredients so they are handy when you start cooking. This will save you time and make cooking less stressful.
Trim the short ribs by removing any silver skin (pictured right). Slide the tip of a sharpe knife between the silver skin and the meat. Cutting away from you, run the knife slowly and pull away the silver skin at the same time. You want to remove the skin, but not the meat. It’s important to cut away from you so you don’t cut yourself should the knife slip. Check with your local butcher to see if they may be able to remove it for you.
Note: What is silver skin? Silver skin is a connective tissue that doesn’t melt, unlike fat. Silver skin is just that, a silvery looking skin with a thread-like appearance that is found in cuts of meat like beef, pork and lamb. It cooks up tough and chewy and it can even curl up while cooking. It is always recommended to trim it off.
Pictured on the top left is the regular fat that that will melt away on its own and make the sauce more luxurious, and the meat more tender. You want to keep some of that fat. Once all the short ribs have been trimmed, pat them dry with a paper towel and season them well on all sides with kosher salt and black pepper.
Preheat the oven to 325°F and place the oven rack in the middle position.
I used a Dutch oven casserole, but if you don’t have one, use something that is oven safe, wide and bottom-heavy enough so the sauce doesn’t stick or burn. Place the casserole over high heat and when the casserole is hot, add enough extra virgin olive oil to coat the pan. Slightly reduce the temperature to medium-high heat. Working in batches, sear the short ribs on all sides, about 12-15 minutes per batch. You want to hear the meat sizzle upon contact with the hot oil.
Note: To test if the casserole is hot enough, wet your fingers and flick water into the dry casserole. The water should bead, sizzle and quickly evaporate.
When all the short ribs have been seared, transfer them to a bowl and set aside. In the same casserole, sauté the diced onions, carrots and celery over medium heat, until they are soft and tender, about 8-10 minutes. Add the garlic and Italian seasonings, stir to combine and sauté for an additional minute or so. If the casserole is a little dry, you may want to add a little olive oil.
Crush the whole tomatoes with your fist directly over the casserole and add in the juices. Remove the hard core from the tomato as that is not a pleasant bite. Pour the wine into the tomato can so it can pick up all remaining juice and tomato bits, then pour the collective liquid into the casserole. Add the beef stock, stir and cook uncovered for 5 minutes.
Note: If you don’t have beef stock, add chicken or vegetable stock. You could also dissolve a bouillon cube in a cup of water and add that. If using a bouillon cube, adjust the salt you’re adding to the sauce until you can taste and re-season after it has cooked for three hours.
Add chopped basil or basil paste, kosher salt, black pepper, granulated sugar, red pepper flakes, a dry bay leaf and a Parmesan cheese rind (optional). Adding a cheese rind to a sauce or soup adds a great depth of flavor. Add the short ribs with any meat juices back to the casserole.
Cover the casserole with foil before placing the lid on top. This helps retain the moisture in the casserole and also helps with clean-up. If you don’t have foil, just cover it with the lid. Transfer to the oven and bake at 325°F for 3 hours. Relax and pour yourself a glass of wine!
After three hours, transfer the casserole to the cooktop and discard the foil, Parmesan rind (pictured above right) and bay leaf. Transfer the beef onto a plate and set aside to cool slightly.
During the cooking process the beef rendered a lot of fat. See the shiny thin layer of fat, pictured left? Use a ladle to skim the fat and discard. Now you’re only left with the rich tomato, wine and beef sauce. Use an immersion blender to puree the tomatoes and vegetables into a sauce. Do a few pulses at a time until you reach the sauce consistency you like. I like to see small bits of onions and carrots. I find that if I slightly tilt the casserole pan away from me, the immersion blender has more volume to blend and any hot liquid splatter is away from me.
Keep the sauce warm over low heat while you shred the meat and cook the pasta.
Once the meat is cool enough to handle, begin to separate the meat from the bone and any connective tissue. This is fairly easy to do as the meat is fall-off-the-bone tender. Add the meat to the sauce and discard the rest. Stir to combine and keep the ragu warm until the pasta is ready. Now’s the time to taste and re-season, if necessary.
Fill a pot with water, add kosher salt, olive oil and bring to a boil. When boiling, add the pasta and cook al dente, according to packaging instructions. Make sure to stir the pasta so the noodles don’t stick together and cook evenly.
When the noodles are cooked, drain and add them to the pasta. Toss to combine and garnish with freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese and fresh basil.
This recipe is perfect for easy entertaining since you can make the short rib ragu the day before. Simply warm the ragu through over low-medium heat while the pasta cooks. Toss to combine and serve with salad, bread and great wine.
I hope you enjoy this dish as much as my family did.
Short Rib Ragu with Pappardelle
Rich and complex in flavor, this slow cooked beef ragu will not disappoint. Perfect for an Italian themed dinner party or Sunday family dinner.
SHORT RIB RAGU
- 3-4 lbs. bone in short ribs
- kosher salt and pepper for the short ribs use Diamond brand kosher salt
- extra virgin olive oil to coat the casserole
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 2 medium carrots, diced
- 1 celery stick, diced
- 3 large garlic cloves, peeled and mashed
- 1 ½ teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1 28-oz. can peeled whole tomatoes in juice prefer San Marzano tomatoes
- 2 cups red wine
- 1 cup beef stock or chicken stock
- 2 Tablespoons basil, chopped or basil paste
- ¾ teaspoon koser salt prefer Diamond brand
- black pepper
- ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste
- 1 large bay leaf, dry
- Parmesan cheese rind, optional
- garnish with grated Parmesan cheese or Pecorino Romano
- garnish with fresh basil
- 1 lb. pappardelle pasta
- enough water to cover pasta
- 2 Tablespoons kosher salt prefer Diamond brand
- olive oil
Trim the short ribs of any silverskin or excess fat. Pat the meat dry with paper towels and season all sides with kosher salt and black pepper.
Note: Silverskin is extremely tough connective tissue and it will not melt, unlike fat.
Preheat oven to 325°F and place oven rack in the middle position.
Heat a dutch oven casserole over high heat. Add enough olive oil to coat the bottom of the casserole and slightly reduce heat to medium-high. Working in batches, sear the short ribs on all sides, about 12-15 minutes per batch. Transfer the short ribs to a bowl and set aside.
Add the onions, carrots and celery to the casserole and sauté over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft and tender, about 10 minutes or so.
Add garlic and Italian seasonings. Stir well to combine and cook the garlic for a minute.
Crush the San Marzano whole tomatoes with your hands directly over casserole, removing the core, and add remaining juices. Pour 2 cups red wine into the tomato can to pick up any remaining tomato juices or bits, then pour wine into the casserole. Add beef stock and allow to cook uncovered 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add chopped basil, ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, ½ teaspoon granulated sugar, ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes and black pepper to taste. Stir well to combine. Add bay leaf.
Place the seared short ribs back into the casserole and add the Parmesan rind. Top with foil and cover with lid. Transfer to preheated oven and cook at 325°F for 3 hours.
Note: The foil helps create a seal around the casserole and makes clean up easier.
Remove casserole from the oven and place on stove top. Discard foil and transfer short ribs onto a plate to cool slightly. Discard Parmesan rind and bay leaf. Remove any liquid fat on the surface using a ladle.
Use an immersion blender to puree the tomatoes and create a smooth sauce. Pulse a few times and work carefully as not to splatter yourself with hot liquid. Once you have the sauce to your liking, turn the heat on low to simmer and keep the sauce warm.
Tip: I find slightly tilting the casserole away from me helps. Pulse once or twice, stir and pulse again until sauce is to your liking. I like to see some bits of carrots and tomatoes in the sauce.
When the short ribs are cool enough to handle, separate the meat from the bones and shred into small pieces, removing any connective tissue or extra fat. Transfer the clean beef into the casserole and discard the rest. Stir well, taste and re-season if needed.
Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil over high heat. Add kosher salt and olive oil and stir. When boiling, add pasta and stir well so the noodles don't stick to each other. Cook al dente, according to packaging instructions.
When the pasta is cooked, drain and combine with the short rib ragu. Serve immediately and garnish with freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese and basil.
This is a great recipe to make ahead for easy entertaining. Make the short rib ragu the day before and heat through while you make the pasta. Toss together and serve with a salad and crusty bread.