Beef Shank Ragu

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This is comfort food at its finest. Make ahead, totally freezable, great for a crowd and a meal that will warm your belly on a cold winter eve. Leftovers taste even better and are strongly encouraged.

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Part of the trick here is to finish cooking the pasta in the sauce allowing them to absorb all the wonderful flavors.

Beef Shank Ragu

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  • 5 lbs beef shanks, bone in
  • Salt and pepper
  • Olive oil for searing
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 2 cups chopped carrots
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 sprigs rosemary
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp dried oregano and dried thyme
  • 1 bottle dry red wine
  • 500 ml water or beef broth
  • 1 can tomato paste
  • Pasta to feed 6 people
  • 1 cup grated pecorino plus more for serving
  • 1 cup chopped parsley, optional

Clean the shanks and pat dry with paper towel. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and sear one both sides in a large dutch oven in batches. Remove when nicely browned and set aside. Add more oil if required and sweat out the onions, carrots, celery and garlic. Add the herbs, wine and tomato paste and bring the mixture to a gentle simmer. Return the beef and add as much water as required to just cover the meat. Cover with a tight fitting lid and simmer for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

The beef should be very tender at this point. Fish out the bones and any tendons or cartilage and break up the beef. Remove the rosemary and the bay leaves and add a bit more water at this point to create a thin sauce that barely coats the back of a wooden spoon (you will finish cooking the pasta in the sauce so much of the liquid will be absorbed). Keep the sauce at a gentle simmer.

Cook the pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water. Drain the pasta once it is about 75% cooked and return to the hot pot. Ladle enough sauce over the pasta to properly coat the noodles and allow the pasta to finish cooking (you may not require all the sauce). Add half the cheese and all the parsley. Toss and adjust for salt and pepper.

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