I find that watching cooking shows inspires me to cook more creatively, taking me out of the rut which I get into now and again. They also inspire me to snack… A LOT. You can’t watch a cooking show without getting hungry. It’s impossible! To be honest, writing this post is making me hungry. So most recently, I started watching cooking videos on YouTube featuring Frankie Celenza a likeable, funny, highly entertaining cook who’s recipes (many of them include pasta btw) are easy and quick to prepare which is totally my thing too! In Frankie’s World, Frankie’s Tastemade show, he made a ragu similar to this one but served it over soft and creamy polenta! Holy good Lord, it was magical. Needless to say, I was inspired!
A little while ago I bought a package of short ribs on a whim and decided I’d try my hand at short rib rage, like Frankie’s. I had never made short rib anything before but I knew from my extensive experience eating at restaurants, that it’d go well with Pappardelle 😉 That long wide noodle shape was made for sauces like this! Inexplicably, (probably laziness) I didn’t look online for a recipe, which is what I would normally do. So, I simply threw the most appropriate ingredients I could think of into my slow cooker and hoped for the best. Honestly my hopes weren’t high because my track record of cooking without a recipe is terrible but it turns out I can make something delicious without a recipe after all! Who knew?
Experience & repetition lead to eventually cooking successfully without a recipe.
To brown or not to brown…
Following this victory over my fear of making meals without a recipe, I did ‘google’ short rib ragu recipes just to see how others make it. Most, if not all, brown the meat before placing it into the slow cooker. I know all about the caramelization and development of flavor that this step adds and I am 100% behind doing that but I must say that my quick method was excellent and abundantly flavourful and that’s all that matters.
Since short ribs can have a lot of fat, you’ll have to skim it off the surface of your sauce.
After the rib meat cooked down to a fall apart tender, delicious state, I removed the meat and bones and transferred them to a bowl and set it aside. I strained the sauce, discarding large pieces of vegetables and any bones and debris that I missed. I used a spoon to skim the fat which rose in a translucent layer above the sauce. This part is tedious, I won’t lie. However, you can rejoice! There’s an easier way! After straining your sauce, place it in the fridge. In 30 mins to an hour, the fat will start to harden and it will be so spoon the fat out. If you refrigerate it for several hours or overnight, a hardened disk of fat will form over the sauce and you can lift it out in one shot. Yeah , I know. Super gross.
Special equipment: Large slow cooker (5-6 qt)
Yeild: 4 servings
2 to 3 racks of short ribs depending on size and thickness, for a total weight of around 1 to 1.5 lb.
Choose nice meaty ones. Last time I found 3 very small racks, the next time around I found thicker, meatier ones. Short ribs are hard to find around here so whenever I see them, I buy a couple of packages and freeze them.
1 680ml jar of passatta (tomato coulis). I like Mutti with basil.
1 cup of beef broth
1 white onion, sliced thick
3 cloves of garlic, smashed with a knife. No need to peel fully, just remove the really flakey outer layers.
1/2 tsp salt
a bunch of fresh thyme
1 cup or so of prepared marinara sauce. You can make your own but in a pinch I use Stefano Faita’s Marinara sauce, my favourite store-bought sauce.
Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano – or combine the two!
A couple of dollops of Ricotta (optional)
Fresh basil to garnish
Liberally salt the meat on both sides.
Add the first 7 ingredients to a 5-6 Qt slow cooker. (Ribs, passata, broth, onion, garlic, salt and thyme)
Set it to cook on low for 8 hours. I tried cooking on the high setting and feel like 5 hours would do the trick.
When the time is up, remove meat to a plate and let cool until it is cool enough to handle.
Pass the liquid through a fine mesh sieve into a large bowl to remove large pieces of vegetable and loosened bone. Set the strained liquid aside. Discard what is left in the sieve.
“Clean” the meat by removing fat/membrane and bone fragments. Set meat aside.
At this stage you should cool and refrigerate your strained sauce to skim off the fat. It’ll be a lot easier than when it’s still hot. In fact, when the sauce has been refrigerated overnight the fat layer can often be removed in one shot. If you don’t have time to do this, simply move on to the next step and skim the fat in the saucepan.
In a large saucepan, reduce strained liquid by simmering. (Skim fat off the surface little by little with a teaspoon) When it is reduced by about half, add the meat.
Add the 1 cup of prepared marinara sauce.
Simmer, and taste, then correct seasoning if necessary.
When the sauce is ready, serve over your favourite pasta with a good helping of Pecorino Romano or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese or why not a bit of both!? ;D
Optional: Top with a dollop of ricotta, drizzled with a little olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. The ricotta adds creaminess and contrast to the dish.
Enjoy ! xo
Check out my all time Favourite Frankie show, Frankie’s World https://www.facebook.com/FrankiesWorld.Tastemade/