Short Rib Ragù with Pappardelle
Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home. ~ Edith Stilwell
There are some dishes you prepare that really make a lasting impression; truly extraordinary with outstanding flavors, a luscious texture, and you had to add nothing more than a little salt and pepper at the end to pop the flavor. Perfection, in other words.
That is how I would describe this recipe for Short Rib Ragù. It is a version of the dish that I have been making for a number of years. I had another recipe which I loved and made often, but once I found this one, I never went back. It’s pure comfort food and one of those dishes you crave, particularly when the temps are in the minus digits, as they are across most of the country right now.
While I love dining out and having the privilege of enjoying plates of beautifully constructed and visually appealing food, sometimes simple dishes prepared at home can be better. If dishes are executed properly, their complexity of flavor should exceed their stunning appearance. And sometimes, plates of food that are not gorgeous to look at and more rustic in appearance, can have the most incredible layering of flavors. That is how I would describe this dish.
Short Rib Ragù is a classic and one that I always enjoy sharing with guests. The complex and rich flavor of the sauce comes from properly searing the meat and layering the rest of the ingredients in at the right time. Low and slow cooking in a Dutch oven creates a gorgeous caramelization on the short ribs and creates an enhanced depth of flavor. Let the dish rest overnight in the refrigerator to easily remove the fat and allow the flavors to come together. This makes it an ideal dish to prepare ahead and serve the next day. While it’s wonderful the first day, it’s even better the next day.
A bold red wine (I used a nice Cabernet) and ruby port add a bit of sweetness and intensity to the sauce. Most of the vegetables melt away into the dish leaving behind all of their goodness. As I always recommend, purchase local and humanely raised beef. I did use grain fed beef for this dish as you want the marbling and fat in the beef for flavor. Organic vegetables are also preferred. Once the cooking time is complete in the oven, I remove the pot, let the dish cool down a bit, and then place it in the refrigerator overnight. This makes the removal of the layer of fat much easier.
The next day, while still cold from the refrigerator and shortly before serving, remove the fat layer that has risen to the top, discard the bouquet garni, and slowly warm the ragù over low heat. Take out the short ribs and shred the meat, returning the pieces of meat to the Dutch oven. It takes very little additional time to reduce the sauce. You just want a nice, thick consistency. At this point, you should only need a few good pinches of salt and freshly ground black pepper to really bring out the flavors.
Of course, homemade pappardelle would be the ideal choice to serve with this, but a good store bought version is fine, too. You can either mix a little of the ragù and some reserved pasta water with the pappardelle, toss together, and then garnish with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or just top the pasta with the ragù and grated cheese (as I prefer to do). Either way, I am certain you will make this recipe again and again and add it to your list of favorites.
Serve with a crusty loaf of bread, a beautiful salad, and a nice bottle of wine and you have a perfect hearty meal to warm you up on these chilly winter evenings.
Short Rib Ragù with Pappardelle
This recipe, from Bobby Flay, is perfect when prepared as stated. As always, use the best ingredients you can source, as it will matter in the final flavors of the dish. I prefer to prepare this a day ahead, remove the fat, and then proceed with the rest of the recipe. It is also much better when served the next day.
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil
3 1/2 to 4 pounds short ribs
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 dried bay leaf
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
5 sprigs fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley
4 small carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 medium onion, diced
2 medium shallots, diced
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup ruby port
2 cups red wine (I used Cabernet - you want a big red wine for this dish)
1/2 head garlic, cloves separated and peeled
3 1/2 cups homemade beef stock (I used organic beef broth)
1 pound pappardelle or other long, flat pasta
Chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish (optional)
Parmigiano-Reggiano, for garnish (or Pecorino Romano)
1. Pre-heat oven to 325 degrees F.
2. Place a 5-quart Dutch oven over medium heat. Add oil, and heat until it is almost smoking. Season short ribs generously with Kosher salt and pepper. Sear the short ribs on one side, then turn to brown the other. You may need to do this in two batches. Remove the ribs from the Dutch oven, and transfer to a large plate. Set aside.
3. Meanwhile, prepare the bouquet garni. In the center of a square piece of cheesecloth, add the bay leaf, rosemary, thyme, and parsley. Bring the edges together and tie with kitchen string. Set bouquet garni aside.
4. To the hot Dutch oven add carrots, celery, onion, and shallots and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are softened and golden, about 10 minutes.
5. Add the flour and tomato paste and stir to combine. Add ruby port; stir with wooden spoon until all browned bits have been scraped from the pan and the bottom of the casserole is clean. Add the red wine, and simmer until the liquid is reduced by half. Add garlic, beef stock, and the reserved bouquet garni.
6. Return the seared ribs to the pot and bring the liquid to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cover the Dutch oven and place it in the oven. Cook until the short ribs are very tender, about 3 hours.
7. (* One option is to prepare this the same day you serve it, but I prefer cooling the dish and placing it in the refrigerator overnight. This will allow you to easily remove the layer of fat from the top of the ragù.) Once the fat is skimmed from the top, slowly warm up the ragù and take the cooked ribs from pot and remove the bouquet garni. Take the meat off the bones and shred into small pieces. Discard the bones and fat and return the shredded meat back into the pot. Bring to a slow simmer to reduce sauce to a nice, thick consistency.
8. Fill a large pot with water and add a few tablespoons of salt. Set over high heat, and bring to a boil. Salt well and add pasta. Cook until pasta is al dente. Drain pasta, and serve with short-rib ragù, sprinkle with chopped parsley, if desired. Serve with freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Percorino Romano.
Chef Bobby Flay
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