Ragù has always been a tradition in my house. Growing up my dad prepared it weekly, mainly because it was an easy dinner. And in those days, ragù sauce came in the form of a jar and pasta came in the form of a box from the supermarket—not exactly authentic, but I didn’t know any better (my taste buds were still developing). As I grew older and my creativity with food began to blossom—Saturdays watching Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations” with my dad helped—I experimented with a lot of different ragù and bolognese recipes. I’ve always loved pasta, but have never been a huge fan of white sauce (bleh).
I’ve always been a red sauce kind of girl.
Here’s a fun fact about me: I studied abroad in Italy for a month when I was in college—and it was one of the best experiences of my life. One that I am still to this day quite fond of.
During that trip I ate so much pasta and gelato that I gained NEARLY 20 LBS in one month—that’s not an exaggeration. After that trip, my cravings for pasta were less frequent that before; but now and then, I get a big craving for it, and it’s always for a thick-cut pasta and a hearty meat sauce.
This is my favorite red sauce recipe—filled with vegetables, ground beef and (the best part) short ribs! The best part about this recipe is that it’s super adaptable. I usually use whatever root vegetables and meat I have on hand, and it always turns out delicious.
Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: 3 1/2 hours Serves: 8
What You’ll Need
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 1/2 lbs beef short ribs
- 1 lb 85% lean ground beef
- 3 celery sticks, diced
- 1 medium parsnip (or carrot), skin on and diced
- 1 leek (or white onion), thinly sliced
- 1 green pepper, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup dry red wine
- 56 oz. tomato purée (this is two cans of 28 oz. diced tomatoes puréed)
- 1 Parmesan rind
- 2 to 3 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- handful thyme
- handful sage
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped + extra for garnish
- Parmesan cheese, grated for garnish
How You’ll Do It
- Heat a heavy bottom pot on medium, and add in the olive oil. While the pot is heating up, take this time to dry all the meat with the paper towel. The key to a beautiful sear is drying your meat—don’t skip this step.
- Once the oil is heated, place the short ribs in the pot with the thicker side of the meat down first. Don’t overcrowd the pan. I had to do this in two batches, 4 pieces at a time. Mine were big ol’ fat bois. Let the short ribs sizzle away for about 3 to 5 minutes until golden brown and then flip. The other side should cook for just a minute.
- Once you have finished searing all the short ribs, put them to aside to rest. With the pot still on medium, add in the ground beef, and cook until the meat is fully cooked and starts browning. During this step, the ground beef should release some liquid. You’ll want to cook until the meat sucks those juices right back up.
- At this step, add in the 2 tbsp. of butter and then the celery, parsnip, leeks and garlic. Stir the vegetables with the ground beef, and add in 1 tsp. of salt. Cook for 5 minutes until tender.
- Add in the red wine, and make sure to scrap the bottom of the pan with your cooking utensil to get those brown bits—those are flavor nuggs! Let the wine cook for about 3 minutes.
- Next add the tomato sauce, remaining salt and pepper, and stir until everything has been evenly combined. Then nestle the short ribs back in, along with the Parmesan rind, thyme and sage (I tied them together with twine like a little package, so it’s easy to fish out later) and bay leaves. Bring the ragù to a boil, and then lower the heat to low. Cover and let cook for 1 1/2 hours.
- After the first 1 1/2 hours, put the pot lid to aside, and give the ragù a good stir. Uncovered, let the ragù cook for an additional 1 1/2 hours.
- At this point, the short ribs should be fork tender. Separate all the short ribs from the bone, and remove the bones from the ragù. Then remove the bay leaves, sage and thyme.
- Serve this ragù over your favorite pasta. I served this over thick-cut pappardelle. Then, garnish with chopped parsley and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
- Make sure to wear a shirt you’re OK with getting messy, because the slurpage is going to cause splatter all over your shirt. But don’t worry, it’s 100% worth it.