This is my favourite “red” meat pasta sauce (if you must know I’m partial to a creamy vodka tomato sauce too but let’s not digress). The rich rib meat creates an unctuous layer for anything from silky fresh pasta, stuffed cannelloni, lasagne sauce, to filled pasta shapes and of course, with a steaming hot bowl of jasmine rice.
In fact, this tastes more like the meat sauce I grew up with in Hong Kong, than any run of the mill beef mince bolognaise. Ah the memory of it, meat sauce running down the slopes of fragrant rice, with a golden egg plopped right on top. It’s the dish I could eat over and over.
Since it’s tomato season, I’m using fresh Curious Croppers tomatoes. Picked the biggest of the heirloom crop, and just like making Pan Con Tomate, grated them with a coarse microplane to get them down to pulp and juice. The skin is left for stock a later time. Substitute with a jar of passata or cans of crushed tomaties, if you prefer.
With pasta, choose long strands or any shapes with ridges that will allow the sauce to cling onto.
Make a big batch, and your future self will thank you for it.
The choice of wine is important here, and I went for a merlot cab-sav for more depth in flavour for the whole dish.
- 1.5 kg Beef Rib meat (boneless)
- A good drizzle of olive oil
- 2 medium onions, diced
- 6 cloves garlic, crushed
- 3 carrots, diced
- 3 cups red wine (I used merlot cab sav)
- 3 tbsp tomato paste
- 850ml grated fresh tomatoes or jar of passata
- 750ml beef stock
- 1 bunch of thyme
- 3 bay leaves
- 5 anchovy fillets
- good grind of black pepper
My Egg Pasta Dough recipe is easy and perfect to make these shapes:
- Lasagne sheets
- Pasta sheets for filled pasta
- Cooked rice
- Flaky pastry sheets, to make into little pies
- Grated parmesan
- Fresh basil or parsley
- Cut short rib into 5cm-long pieces.
- Add a drizzle of oil to a double dutch oven on high heat and sear the meat till brown, in batches. Repeat until all the beef is done.
- Return the pot to high heat, add another drizzle of oil and sweat off onions, garlic and carrots. Cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
- Add red wine to the vegetables, scraping the bottom of the pan to ensure the caramelised juices don’t stick.
- Add in tomato paste, grated tomatoes, beef stock, thyme bunch, bay leaves, anchovies, ground pepper and salt to the pot. Give it a good stir and then add the browned meat.
- Cover and turn the heat down to medium. Gently simmer for 2 to 2.5 hours, stirring occasionally. Check liquid levels and top up with stock if required.
- Once the meat is soft and falls apart, use tongs to remove beef pieces from the sauce, and shred finely using two forks. Return shredded beef to the pot and stir into the sauce.
- Taste, adding additional salt if desired. Cover and cook for a further 15 minutes over low heat to allow the sauce to fully bond with the meat.
- Boil pasta according to packet directions (I recommend leaving it al dente and using fresh pasta), then drain. Toss pasta with ladles of ragu meat, adding pasta water to loosen the sauce.
- Serve with grated parmesan and fresh basil or parsley.