I feel that a good pasta meat sauce (ragu) is a staple of every Italian household. Nonna makes it for Sunday lunch or dinner, and mom makes it when company is coming over or for a special occasion. It’s a classic. And everyone makes theirs differently. I feel no there’s one way to make it.
Some people use pork ribs, some use short ribs in the sauce. Some add sausages, some don’t. Some add celery and carrots, some may add beef stock during the cooking process, some may not.
Since I got married in August, I’ve been cooking up some of the items that I usually left to my mom when I was living at home. A ragu is one of them. While this is not her recipe, I’ve enjoyed making this one many times, always to good results. I do want to share my mom’s ragu recipe later this year when the weather gets colder though!
I grew up eating ragu where the meat that was cooked in the sauce would be served as a main dish after the pasta. So the pasta sauce would technically have no meat in it, even though the meat had cooked in the sauce. It’s essentially a one-pot meal if you eat the meat this way. Or else, you could always shred the meat on top of the pasta and eat it on one dish! Whatever you end up doing, the flavor is delicious, and you won’t be able to have just one bowl! Trust me!
This ragu recipe is rich, it’s hearty and it’s delicious. This recipe does not involve boiling the ribs beforehand as I’ve heard many people do (to get rid of the fat), but that’s partly why I think it tastes so good. It gets its hearty flavor from the red wine and beef stock (not to mention the short ribs).
It takes quite a while to cook, so it’s the true definition of a Sunday sauce. Make it when you’re at home on a Sunday afternoon and you’ll have the most delicious Sunday dinner.
Pina's Sunday Ragu
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- ½ cup chopped pancetta or bacon
- 1 kg beef short ribs
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- 1 cup red wine
- ½ cup chopped white onion
- ½ cup chopped carrot
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 cans (796mL per can) peeled plum tomatoes, crushed with an immersion blender
- 3 cups beef broth
- ½ tbsp chopped rosemary
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- 450 g rigatoni
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Parmesan cheese to garnish
In a large pot on medium heat, heat up 2 tbsp of the olive oil. Add pancetta and fry until pancetta is cooked and slightly crisp. Remove from the pot and drain on a paper towel.
Season flour with salt and pepper, and dredge short ribs in flour. Add short ribs to the same pot that the pancetta was cooking in. Cook the short ribs on each side until browned, about 7 minutes. Remove from the pot.
At this point, deglaze the pot with 1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of the red wine. Scrape the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon to loosen up any bits that have stuck to the bottom. Add the remaining olive oil to the pot.
Add the onion and carrot to the pot, let them cook down. When they are halfway cooked, add the garlic in. Season with salt and pepper.
Once onion, carrot and garlic are cooked, add the crushed tomatoes to the pot. Add the ribs and pancetta back in, as well as the beef stock, remaining red wine, rosemary, bay leaf and oregano. Season with salt and pepper.
Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer with the lid on for 1 hour 15 minutes. Then take the lid off and continue cooking the sauce for another 1 hour 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
When the sauce is almost done, bring a large pot of water to boil. Throw in the rigatoni when the water is boiling, and add salt to the pasta water.
Once rigatoni are cooked to al dente, drain, and add the sauce to the rigatoni. Leave the short ribs aside to use as a main dish. Alternatively, you can shred the short ribs up and mix them in with the rigatoni.
Top with parmesan cheese and enjoy!