Short ribs with pappardelle is the ultimate comfort food that is perfect for cooler nights when all you want to do is cozy up with a warm bowl of pasta. Beef short ribs are braised in a tomato and red wine sauce then tossed with pappardelle ribbons and topped with Parmigiano Reggiano. This is the ragu to end all other ragus.
Editor’s Note: Originally Published on April 4, 2018. Updated with full process shots and expanded info.
As much as I love the summer, I do get a little excited when the weather cools down because that means heartier foods, like porchetta roast, baked butternut squash pasta, and this short rib ragu with pappardelle.
This is one of my most favorite dishes for a few reasons:
- Smells incredible. There is nothing quite like the smell of short ribs braised in red wine and herbs. It smells like home, warmth, and family.
- It's affordable. Mixing the beef with sauce and pasta allows you to extend the beef allowing you to get the most bang for your buck. I was able to get the short ribs on sale for $6.29 per pound but you can also use chuck or beef stew meat to make this even more affordable.
- Simple to make. But doesn't taste simple. This is one of the easiest dishes to make as the prep is pretty basic and most of the cooking time involves braising in the oven, allowing you time to focus on other things. Because it braises for a few hours, the taste is deep and complex.
Variations and additions
Pappardelle is one of my favorite kinds of pasta.
If you're not able to find pappardelle, you can use tagliatelle, fettuccine, bucatini, or even rigatoni for this dish.
This also goes fantastically with homemade potato gnocchi or homemade pasta if you have the time.
This recipe calls for red wine. I almost always use a chianti when I'm making this dish, but really any bold red wine, such as a cabernet, super Tuscan, or Valpolicella would work well.
If you're not able to find beef short ribs, you can opt for beef stew meat or use a 2-3 pound chuck roast cut into cubes.
One of my favorite additions to short ribs with pappardelle, in addition to the Parmigiano Reggiano, is to grate some bittersweet dark chocolate on top, right when I'm plating.
The chocolate adds another layer of flavor contributing to the complexity of the dish. I'd recommend using 80% cacao or higher and start with a little at a time to make sure you like it.
If you want to stretch the dish even further and add additional flavor, you could also add diced white button, baby Bella, or porcini mushrooms to this dish.
How to make it
Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.
- Preheat the oven to 300f and set racks apart so that one large Dutch oven pot can fit in the middle of the oven. Finely dice 1 medium onion and a 2 medium carrots. Also, slice 2 cloves of garlic.
- Season the short ribs very well with a total of 2 teaspoons kosher salt and a ½ teaspoon black pepper on all sides.
- Heat a large Dutch oven to medium heat and wait 5-7 minutes before adding the short ribs. Once the pot is very hot add 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pan, pat the short ribs dry with paper towels to remove any excess wetness, and place into the pot. Working in batches to avoid overcrowding, sear the ribs on all sides until well browned (should take about 10 minutes per batch). Set the seared ribs to the side and turn the heat down to medium-low.
- At this point, there will be a lot of beef fat in the pot. Add the carrots and onions to the pot and saute them until very soft (about 10-12 minutes).
- Next, add in the garlic and cook for 2 minutes longer.
- Add in the 3 ounces of tomato paste, mix around constantly and cook for 3 minutes more.
- Add 2 cups of dry red wine (Chianti, Cabernet, Valpolicella, etc) to the pot and turn the heat back to medium. Using a wooden spoon, scrape and dislodge all of the brown bits. Cook for 3 minutes.
- Add the plum tomatoes, thyme, and bay leaf, and bring the sauce to a simmer.
- Return the short ribs to the simmering sauce. Try to keep them all submerged, but don't worry if parts of some are sticking out.
- Turn off the heat and cover. Cook in the oven for 2 hours, then remove and turn over any short ribs. Crack the lid, leaving it open by about 1 inch, and return the pot to the oven. Let the ragu cook for 1 hour more.
- After 3 hours the short ribs will be falling apart. With tongs or a slotted spoon remove all of the short ribs, bones, thyme stems, and the bay leaf. Discard the thyme stems and bay leaf.
- Discard all of the short ribs bones (or save for a bone broth). The membrane that holds the meat to the bone needs to be removed. Cut it away with a sharp knife. Once all of the membrane parts have been removed, shred the beef with two forks, or alternatively chop it up. Note: The membrane will have a hard texture, distinct look and feel, and will be easily noticeable. Just take your time to remove the membrane before shredding the short rib meat. The collagen-filled membrane or connective tissue can be eaten, but for the purposes of shredding the beef and to have a uniform texture, I recommend removing it. You can save it with the bones to make a stock if desired.
- Place all the shredded beef into the pot and keep the pot on low heat. Give the ragu a taste test and adjust salt and pepper if required.
- Bring a large pot of salted water (2 tablespoons kosher salt) to boil and cook the pappardelle to almost cooked (about 1-2 minutes less than al dente. While the pasta is cooking place about 2 cups of the short rib ragu into a large pan and turn the heat to medium-low.
- Before draining the pasta save 1 cup of pasta water. Place the pasta into the pan with the hot ragu and stir well to thoroughly coat the pasta.
- Finish cooking the pasta in the ragu for 1-2 minutes or until al dente then turn the heat off. If more ragu is needed, add it now. If the pasta is a bit dry use some of the reserved pasta water ( a couple ounces at a time) to loosen it up. Serve with grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese and the extra ragu on the side. Enjoy!
Note: you'll have about ½ bottle of wine left after making the sauce. If you're so inclined, this meal pairs perfectly with a glass of chianti, super Tuscan, or a cabernet. Cin Cin!
- Sear the short ribs very well - Taking the time to put a great sear on all the sides of the shorts ribs will increase the ragu's flavor tremendously. The maillard reaction whereby the protein and sugars of the beef are transformed by intense heat makes the flavor that much better.
- Sweat the veggies - Just as building the flavor with the seared meat, sweating the carrot and onion through slow cooking will impart a sweetness to the short rib ragu. Don't rush this step.
- Fresh thyme - Thyme just goes so well with braised beef and red wine. It's one of my favorite herbs to use for short ribs but feel free to experiment.
- Refrigerate overnight - You will get an even better flavor if you make this red wine short rib ragu one day in advance. An added bonus is the fat will come to the top overnight, and you can remove most of it the next day by scraping it off with a spoon before reheating. This makes the dish a tad healthier, but in the end, there is nothing too healthy about this dish ;).
More hearty Italian pasta recipes
If you like short ribs with pappardelle, try these other super hearty and comforting pastas.
- Rigatoni lamb ragu - Lamb shoulder slowly cooked with red wine, rosemary, and plum tomatoes and tossed over pasta.
- Pasta alla Genovese - This rustic dish combines beef chuck roast, pancetta, and 5 pounds of onions for one of the best dishes you've never heard of.
- Pasta Bolognese - The classic recipe that combines ground beef, pancetta, carrots, onions, and celery in a tomato, white wine ragu.
- Meatballs and Sunday sauce - The quintessential Italian-American Sunday dinner.
- Pasta al forno - Baked pasta with meat sauce.
- Salsa di Noci - Otherwise known as pasta with walnut sauce.
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- 10 3-4" bone-in short ribs about 3-4 pounds
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt plus more to taste
- ½ teaspoon black pepper plus more to taste
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 medium carrots diced
- 1 medium onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic sliced
- 3 ounces tomato paste
- 2 cups dry red wine chianti, cabernet, etc
- 1 28 ounce can plum tomatoes hand crushed or blender pulsed
- 1 large bay leaf
- 2 tablespoons fresh thyme
- 1 pound pappardelle
- 1 cup reserved pasta water will most likely not need all of it
- ½ cup Parmigiano Reggiano grated, for finishing
- Preheat oven to 300f and move racks to make enough room to accommodate a large Dutch oven pot in the middle of the oven.
- Pat the short ribs dry and season with 2 teaspoons kosher salt and a ½ teaspoon of black pepper on all sides. Heat a large Dutch oven to medium heat. After the pot is hot add the olive oil. Give the short ribs one more pat to make sure they're dry, then add them to the pot and and sear on all sides. Work in batches and do not crowd the pan. Short ribs should take about 10 minutes to sear on all sides per batch.
- Set the seared short ribs aside and turn the heat down to medium-low. Add in the carrots, and onions and saute in the beef fat until very soft (about 10 minutes) then add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes longer.
- Next, add in the tomato paste and cook for 3 minutes stirring frequently. Add the wine and turn heat to medium. Using a wooden spoon scrape all the brown bits off the bottom of the pan.
- After cooking the wine for 3 minutes, add the plum tomatoes, thyme, and bay leaf and bring to a simmer. Once simmering add the short ribs to the pot, stir, then turn off and cover. Cook short ribs in the oven for 2 hours. After two hours, place the lid partially ajar and continue to cook for 1 more hour.
- Remove Dutch oven, then remove short ribs and place onto a large cutting board. Using 2 forks, shred the meat. Discard any hard parts of fat and the bones. Also, discard any thyme stems and the bay leaf. Return the shredded meat to the pot and keep warm over low heat. Taste test the ragu and season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Bring a large pot of salted water (2 tablespoons kosher salt) and cook pappardelle until al dente. Heat a large pan to medium-low heat and add in 2 cups of the short rib ragu. Add the al dente pasta to the pan and cook for 1 more minute mixing well to thoroughly coat the pasta.
- If the pasta needs more ragu, add more now. If the sauce seems a little dry add a bit of reserved pasta water to loosen it up. Serve plated with grated Parmigiano Reggiano and the remaining ragu on the side. Enjoy!
- Makes 6 moderate or 4 large servings.
- Making the ragu 24 hours in advance and refrigerating overnight will yield even better flavor. If doing so, you can remove some of the fat that will rise to the top with a spoon after being chilled.
- The collagen-filled membrane or connective tissue can be eaten, but for the purposes of shredding the beef and to have a uniform texture, I recommend removing it. You can save it with the bones to make a stock if desired.
- Leftovers can be saved for up to 3 days and can be reheated in the microwave.
- The leftover ragu can be frozen for up to 3 months.
This recipe was originally published on April 4, 2018. It was completely updated on October 5, 2021.