When I’m looking for comfort in a bowl, I don’t make mac and cheese, or eat meatloaf, or make ice cream. I make this. Penne pasta with short rib ragu, it is seriously one of the tastiest most comforting dishes I have ever known. You braise short ribs in the oven with all sorts of aromatic vegetables for 2 hours until they are so tender that they fall apart. Then you puree the mirepoix (onion, carrots, celery) and turn it into a thick sauce for the pasta. The short ribs just give the sauce such incredible mouthfeel, and I love how many flavors in this dish all come together. Here’s how to make this simple dish:
2 lbs short ribs
1 large yellow onion
2 celery ribs
1 bay leaf
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp dried thyme
2 tbsp brandy liqueur (you can sub 1/4 cup wine if you want)
1 tsp flour
2 tbsp tomato paste
2 cloves minced garlic
2 cups beef stock
1 lb penne pasta
1/3 cup pecorino romano or parmigiano
parsley to garnish, if desired
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
Roughly chop the yellow onion, carrots, celery ribs, and throw them in the food processor. Pulse until finely chopped. We are eventually going to puree it all in the food processor anyway, so might as well save some time on chopping:
Heat up an ovenproof skillet over medium high heat. Season the short ribs with salt and pepper, and brown on all sides (I didn’t use oil, just put the fat side down first to render off a little fat). Once nicely browned, remove the short ribs to a plate, and add the yellow onion, carrots, celery, bay leaf, red pepper flakes, and thyme, along with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened. Deglaze the pan by adding the brandy, and scrape up all the browned bits from the pan. Stir in the flour, tomato paste, and garlic.
Return the short ribs to the pan, and add the beef stock. Put a lid on, and place it in the oven for 2 hours until the meat falls apart.
Now is the part where you remove the short ribs from the pan and shred with two forks until the short ribs are in pieces. It is also the part where you are very careful and do NOT touch the handle of that pan that came out of the oven (that’s what I did, and I was so burned that my fingers ballooned with blistered skin…my husband finished making dinner).
Boil your penne with plenty of boiling water and salt until al dente. While that cooks, remove the bay leaf from the short rib pan, and puree the contents until smooth. This is your sauce, and if it’s too thin, you can reduce it down on the stove, or if it’s too thick, you can add a little bit of water.
To pull everything together, dress the penne with the short rib sauce, add the shredded short ribs, and the pecorino romano and parsley if desired. Enjoy!