Serves a Crowd

Beef Short Rib Ragu

December 31, 2010
8 Ratings
  • Serves 4-6
Author Notes

This ragu is delightfully rich with many layers of flavors. It is always a hit, especially with the red meat lovers. I have used bone-in and boneless and while bone-in ribs generally add an extra meaty flavor to the end result, the boneless take up less room in the pot, require less work and with a good beef stock, the depth produced by the bones isn't missed. This recipe is a little time consuming, but it is a lovely fall or winter meal and well worth the preparation. I love that this can be made in advance and can be prepared a few different ways. I have served over papardelle pasta and also polenta. I have also found that the leftovers make amazing sandwiches on good bread with some sharp provolone. I am a stickler for skimming fat throughout cooking and recommend you do the same to avoid too much grease. This dish can be made up to 4 days in advance and freezes very well. A good reason to make the ragu in advance is to enable the most effective fat skimming. This dish can also be slow cooked on the stove top (approx. 1 1/2 hours covered and another 1 1/2 uncovered), thus eliminating the use of the oven in step 3. Alternatively, the ragu can be cooked in a slow cooker on low for 6 hours in step 3, after adding the ribs and stock to the pot. If cooking in a slow cooker, I would reduce stock to 2 - 2 1/2 cups. —kxr173

What You'll Need
  • 2 - 2 1/2 pounds Beef short ribs (I use boneless)
  • 3 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup pancetta, chopped (approx. 2 oz. or substitute bacon)
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • salt & freshly ground pepper
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 medium carrot, peeled & finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons chopped garlic
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh, flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 can (28 oz) San Marzano tomatoes (whole or chopped)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon fresh, chopped sage leaves
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 1/2 cups beef stock (may need more while braising depending on desired consistency)
  • 1/2 cup ruby port
  • Shaved Parmesan cheese or Grated Pecorino Romano cheese, for serving
  • Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish
  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch Oven (at least 5 quarts) over medium heat. Cook the pancetta until golden and crisp, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, season the short ribs with the salt & pepper and dredge in flour. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta from the pan and set it aside on a plate lined with paper towels to drain. Add the short ribs to the pan and cook until browned on all sides, approx. 7 - 8 minutes total. Lift the short ribs out and let cool briefly on a plate.
  2. Combine the onion, carrot, parsley, garlic, tomatoes and tomato paste in a food processor and pulse until finely minced. Once the short ribs are browned and removed from the pan, return the pancetta to the pan and add the tomato mixture. Stir and let cook 3 - 4 minutes until vegetables are softened. Add ruby port and sage, thyme, rosemary and bay leaf. Simmer until liquid is almost absorbed, approx. 4 minutes.
  3. Return the short ribs to the pot and add the beef stock. Bring the mixture to a simmer and then cover tightly and place casserole in oven, cooking until ribs are very tender (approx. 2 - 2 1/2 hours, depending on size of ribs).
  4. Remove the cooked ribs from the casserole. Set the casserole on the stove top over medium heat and simmer to thicken sauce just slightly (add more beef stock if sauce is too thick for your liking). As soon as the ribs are cool enough to handle, shred the meat (if using bone-in ribs, remove the meat from the bones).
  5. Degrease the sauce and remove the bay leaf. Return shredded meat to the casserole and simmer to reduce sauce to desired consistency.
  6. Serve ragu in bowls over fresh papardelle pasta or polenta. Top with Parmesan or Pecorino Romany cheese and fresh parsley.
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Kayb
  • Sagegreen
  • fortheloveofyum
  • kxr173

19 Reviews

The J. February 13, 2013
This sounds delicious! I made a braised beef ragu in my slow cooker this week, but maybe I'll try your recipe next time.
Angel December 24, 2011
I made this last night. the rago turned our really lovely, but I didn't love it over pasta. I've frozen the rest of the beef ragu and I think in the future I'll eat it on toasted french baguette or perhaps over fluffy mashed potatoes.
Wendell S. November 15, 2011
Meat CSA gave me a pound of lamb short ribs and advised me to cook them long and slow. Adapted this recipe with the addition of a pound of their lean, grass-fed beef stew meat. Turned out wonderfully: no gaminess to the lamb, great flavor, but watch out for lots of grease to remove.
Kayb January 15, 2011
OK, this is braising in the oven, with lamb shanks instead of short ribs. The smell is just heavenly. I'll report later!
kxr173 January 19, 2011
How did it go with the lamb shanks? I am nervous to ask & hoping it went well. As I said before, I am hoping to cook more lamb in 2011, so wouldn't mind trying a half-familiar recipe!
Kayb January 19, 2011
Well....could have worked better. The ragu itself is wonderful, and I can see it being excellent with short ribs or lots of other cuts. I'm not sure if these lamb shanks were actually mutton shanks, or what, but that was absolutely the greasiest, gamiest lamb I've ever eaten! It was NOT a hit, but your recipe was certainly not to blame!
Kayb January 11, 2011
Have purchased ruby port. Short ribs AND lamb shanks in freezer. Am loaded and ready for the weekend, no matter which route I choose!
Alexa January 5, 2011
This sounds great. I was actually planning on making a simplified version of this recipe on Saturday night for guests but I am going to try your recipe instead. The recipe I have used in the past is from Martha Stewart and uses less ingredients but is still tasty. This clearly has more depth. I think though that the pancetta/bacon can be skipped altogether if necessary based on my experience with this other recipe. It works well to serve it over grilled/toasted bread, too. Thanks!
kxr173 January 6, 2011
Oooh...I never even thought to serve over grilled or toasted bread & will have to try that! Thanks for the suggestion. I agree that pancetta and bacon can be eliminated, but it does add another layer of flavor which complements the meaty ribs and sweetness of the ruby port. You may want to reduce the port if you eliminate the pancetta or bacon to make sure the finished dish isn't overly sweet. I have never done it without the pancetta or bacon, so I don't want the port to overpower the beef. Hope the dish is a hit with you & your guests!
Alexa January 10, 2011
This dish was a huge success and the leftovers are fabulous. I kept the same amount of port but eliminated the pancetta/bacon. I also used the slow cooker and did not have room for any beef stock at all (plus I think it would have resulted in too much liquid). It was really delicious and I hope you win. We are now putting this recipe on our regular rotation. Thanks again.
lpcooks January 3, 2011
This looks delicious! I really want to make this for a dinner party on Saturday night, but the guests don't eat pork. What would you substitute in for pancetta? I've actually been looking endlessly for the perfect beef and pasta recipe - what perfect timing! Thank you!
Sagegreen January 3, 2011
In the kosher version of my black bean dish I used achiote spices and hot paprika to replace linguica and pancetta. It worked really well. You may want to pose this question of Food Pickle for some great answers! Good luck.
kxr173 January 6, 2011
Hmmmm...I wish I knew of a solid substitute for bacon or pancetta. My friend (a former carnivore) told me about a product called "bacon salt" which is kosher & vegetarian and she uses it in recipes for a little bacony goodness. I have not tried it, but do trust her culinary skills. I think she buys it online & they have different flavors of the bacon salt. Maybe this would work in future recipes - probably a bit late for a dinner party this weekend. Your question may have incented me to finally buy & try some!
Kayb January 2, 2011 I must try this. It sounds absolutely marvelous. Have you ever tried it with lamb shanks? And do you have a specific ruby port you recommend?
kxr173 January 2, 2011
I have never tried it with lamb shanks, but imagine it would be quite delicious! One of my new year's resolutions is to use lamb more in my cooking, so maybe I will try with this recipe. As for a recommended ruby port, I have Quinta de la Rosa in my stash right now and have also substituted Chianti when in a pinch. When in doubt with ruby port, I have always just bought a mid-priced bottle from Portugal to play it safe and that has always worked for cooking and drinking without compaints. Cheers!
Sagegreen January 1, 2011
Ruby port sounds lovely in this!
kxr173 January 1, 2011
Thank you, Sagegreen. The Ruby port really adds a whole new dimension of richness to this dish. I have made braised short ribs with and without ruby port and have come to learn it is the thing that make people go, "Hmmmm" when they eat it. I have also increased the port to 3/4 cup in some cases and decreased the stock by 1/4, depending on the mood I am in and who is coming for dinner :-)
fortheloveofyum January 1, 2011
a beautiful dish, so comforting!
kxr173 January 1, 2011
I agree that this ragu is the ultimate comfort food. I made this for a very special someone who still maintains that this dish solidified their feelings for me it was so good!