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How to Cook Short Rib Ragu

Rich and complexly flavored, a ragù made from slow-cooked short ribs makes an impressive and delicious dinner. Make the pasta from scratch which will be a real treat, or purchase fresh pappardelle as this is the best suited for this hearty ragu.


Serves 6

4 lb. bone-in beef short ribs
4 Tbs. olive oil
2 oz.pancetta-diced
1 large yellow onion-chopped
1 carrot-peeled and chopped
2-3large garlic cloves-minced
1 tsp. ground cumin
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
3 Tbs. tomato paste
1/2 cup (4 fl. oz./125 ml) dry red wine or white wine–your preference
3 1/2 cups (28 fl. oz./875 ml) beef broth, or as needed
1 lb. fresh pappardelle
Freshly grated cheese for serving–your favorite
Chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley or basil for serving


While you may want to trim some of the fat from the short ribs, remember that the fat is where a lot of the flavor will come from. You can certainly trim what you feel is excess after the meat has finished cooking.
Thoroughly pat the meat dry with paper towels and then rub them with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder.
In a large frying pan over medium-high heat, warm 2Tbs. of the olive oil. Add the pancetta and sauté until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Do not get the pancetta too crisp.
Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a large platter.
Working in batches, add the short ribs to the pan and brown on all sides even the bone end. Transfer the beef and its juices to the platter.
Add the remaining 2 Tbs. olive oil to the pot and stir in the onion, carrot, garlic, and cumin. Sauté until the vegetables are softened, lightly colored and aromatic, about 10 minutes.
Return the short ribs and pancetta to the pot, add 1 tsp. salt and several grinds of pepper and stir well.
Stir in the tomato paste, wine and enough broth to just cover the meat. Cover the pot partially with a lid, reduce the heat to low and braise, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender, about 3-5 hours depending on the thickness of the ribs.
Bring a large pot two-thirds full of water to a boil over high heat.
Remove the pot with the short ribs from the heat.
Carefully pour the contents of the pot into a bowl.
Transfer the short ribs to a cutting board. Shred the meat into bite-size pieces and return the meat to the pot.
Let the sauce stand for a few minutes. Using a large spoon, skim the fat off the surface.(I do this by laying a paper towel on the surface for a few seconds to let it absorb the fat. Then pick up quickly and discard.)Taste the sauce and adjust the seasoning for salt and pepper.
Pour the sauce over the meat in the pot and rewarm over medium-low heat.
Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook until al dente, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain the pasta and transfer to a large serving bowl.
Using a slotted spoon, spoon the short rib mixture on top of the pasta. Add enough of the braising liquid to lightly coat the pasta and toss to combine.
Sprinkle with freshly grated cheese and parsley or basil and serve immediately. 
NOTE: Except for browning the meat, I do all of this in my slow cooker and let it cook all day, 5-6hours. You can brown the meat in the slow cooker but it takes a lot longer so I like to start it off in our cast iron skillet.
Also, my family likes it when I do not separate the meat from the bones. So I just add some of the gravy to the pasta to get it highly moistened and then put all the meat, and bones into a bowl and they help themselves.
The extra sauce with the remaining cooked vegetables I put into the blender to puree and then pass at the table so they can add extra to their pasta along with freshly grated cheese.
The aroma in the kitchen is intoxicating. It works best if the ragu is cooked the day before as it becomes much more flavorful. I leave it in the bowl of the slow-cooker and then just reheat on low for a few hours.
A simple salad is all you will ever need with this dish. But even though it is pasta, we enjoy crusty bread to sop up extra gravy.
Buon Mangiata!
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