There are few things more comforting than slow-roasted meat. One of them is slow-roasted meat tossed with pasta and showered in freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano.
The dishes that we tend to find most comforting are usually those which require minimal effort and yield maximum reward - which is exactly what happens when you give little more than some time to a tough piece of meat. It's no coincidence that when we are under the weather, we crave meals that do not just taste wholesome, but that demand little energy to get there. We turn to comfort food not only out of want, but necessity.
When I'm feeling really drained, or there is a nasty chill in the air, I get a hankering for this short rib ragu. I love the way this seemingly scant cut of beef becomes something so rich and delicious with but a few ingredients and a some time on the stove.
As is often the case with a hearty sauce, it is best to use a pasta with an interesting texture or shape here so that the sauce gets stuck into all of the nooks and crannies of the noodles. This will make each bite all the more magic.
Beef Short Rib Ragu
1 1/2 pound beef short ribs (2-3 ribs)
Freshly cracked pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 tablespoon butter
1 leek, halved and thinly sliced (pale green and white parts only)
2 celery stalks, plus leaves, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup red wine
2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 cups beef stock
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
5 sprigs thyme
1 bay leaf
1 pound dried pasta, cooked
Parmigiano Reggiano, to serve
Season short ribs liberally with salt and pepper.
In a large stockpot or dutch oven over medium-high heat, melt butter into 1 of tablespoon olive oil. Add ribs; brown, about 5 minutes each side. Remove ribs and set aside. Add remaining tablespoon of olive oil. Stir in leek, celery, celery leaves, and garlic; sauté until vegetables start to soften, 10 minutes.
To pot, add red wine and tomato paste, whisking until well combined. Lower heat to medium and simmer until wine is reduced by half. Add beef stock, tomatoes, thyme sprigs, bay leaf, and reserved ribs to pot. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, until ribs are tender, about 3 1/2 hours. Remove lid. Using tongs and a fork, gently peel meat away from the ribs and discard bones. Simmer another 30 minutes.
In a large serving bowl, toss pasta with sauce and shower with Parmigiano Reggiano. Alternatively, allow sauce to cool and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 4 days.