The biggest fail as a food blogger is when you have cooked or tasted something delicious and you don’t have any photographic proof to tell the world about it.
Few weeks ago, my friend and I were co-hosting a dinner party, and I immediately, over-enthused as usual, volunteered to make the meat course. At first, I planned on trying Julia Child’s beef bourguignon to serve with his cacio e pepe, except that we both hesitated on testing something that could possibly be unsuccessful on dinner guests and subsequently embarrassing ourselves (the worst fail, actually). He ended up making roasted pork loins with a batch of creamy polenta (using cheese broth!), which were both so delicious! I decided to play it safe and cook something I’m familiar with, which I’ve made over and over again. Unfortunately, I was busy sampling the tasty things our friends had brought to dinner, so I didn’t get to a chance to snap a single picture of anything we made and ate!
We’ll have to wait until he makes the pork chops and polenta again so that I can document and share them with you. In the meantime, I’ve made braised short ribs tagliatelle. And I have redeemed myself by snapping a ton of pictures this time.
Much of the work can be prepared ahead, with only the pasta that needs to be cooked right before you are ready to serve. Because of the slow cooking process, this is not the dish you want to start at 5pm on a weeknight. Braising, after all, is mostly about patience rather than precision. Some chopping, browning, and stirring, and then you just have to leave it alone to let it do its magic.
Also, it is worth noting that the flavors meld together nicely if you let it rest overnight, so it is best if you make the dish a day or two ahead. The sauce is suitable for many purposes; you can make lasagna with it, serve over polenta, gnocchi, vegetables, or other grains. It’s delicious all the same.
And the moment of truth? If, after three hours, the meat is tender, succulent, and falling off the bone, give yourself a big pat on the back.
Braised Beef Short Ribs Tagliatelle
2 tbsps extra-virgin olive oil
3 lbs. flanken-style short ribs with bones, cut 2 inches thick
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 large onion, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
4 cloves garlic
28 oz. canned tomatoes
2 tbsps tomato paste
1 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp fresh rosemary, chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
2 bay leaves
2 cups beef broth
1½ cups dry red wine
1 lb dried or fresh tagliatelle
Salt and pepper, to taste
In a large soup pot or dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Season the ribs with salt and pepper, and dredge in the flour. Add them to the pot and cook over moderate heat, turning once, until browned on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer the ribs to a plate and set aside.
Add the onion, carrots, parsley, and garlic to the pot and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables become soft, about 15 minutes. Add canned tomatoes, tomato paste, rosemary, thyme, oregano, bay leaves, beef broth, and red wine, and bring the mixture to a boil. Return the ribs to the pot and let it cook over medium heat, covered, for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Remove the lid and simmer for an additional 1 hour and 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the ribs from the pot, discard the bones, and shred the meat. Transfer the liquid and vegetables to a blender (remove bay leaves) and puree until smooth. Return the sauce and the shredded meat to the pot. Season with salt and pepper.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes for dried pasta and 2 to 3 minutes for fresh. Drain the pasta, reserving the cooking liquid. Add the pasta to the meat sauce and stir to combine. Add the reserved pasta liquid 1/4 cup at a time, if needed, to moisten the pasta. Serve immediately with grated cheese.
*The original recipe calls for shaved bittersweet chocolate as a garnish. I like the concept but not the hint of sweetness from the chocolate, so I tweaked the recipe and used cocoa powder instead (which gives the dish some depth as in my beef chili with cocoa)
*I used Cabernet Sauvignon, which is my favorite dry red wine for cooking. But whatever you use, just don’t use something you wouldn’t drink. So uncork that bottle and have a little sip (or a glass) before you pour it in. You know, for quality control.