Elevated Comfort Food: Short Rib Ragu Recipe

Written by: Samir P.



Time to read 8 min


Short Rib Ragu, a hearty Italian-inspired dish, is the epitome of comfort food. It's a rich, flavorful sauce made from slowly braised short ribs, perfect for ladling over a bed of pasta or creamy polenta. In this blog post, we'll take you through the steps of creating an exquisite Short Rib Ragu that will transport your taste buds to culinary bliss. Not only will you learn how to prepare this mouthwatering dish, but we'll also share cooking tips, tricks, and the science behind making the perfect ragu. Get ready to embrace the warmth and satisfaction of a home-cooked meal that's both comforting and indulgent.

1. Choosing the Right Short Ribs

Choosing the right short ribs is the foundational step in creating a delectable Short Rib Ragu that bursts with flavor and tenderness. The quality of your dish depends significantly on the type of short ribs you select.

For the best results, opt for bone-in English-cut short ribs. These cuts are characterized by their ample meat surrounding the bone, offering a superb balance between meatiness and marbling. The bones add depth to the flavor and contribute to the sauce's richness as they slowly release their marrow during cooking.

Look for short ribs with good marbling when you're at the butcher or meat counter. The thin streaks of fat running through the meat are essential because, as the ribs braise, this fat melts, infusing the ragu with incredible flavor and ensuring the meat stays moist and tender.

Additionally, choose short ribs that are well-trimmed, with minimal excess fat on the surface. While some fat is desirable for flavor, excessive fat can lead to an overly greasy sauce. A well-marbled, bone-in English-cut short rib will provide the ideal balance, ensuring a luxurious, mouthwatering Short Rib Ragu that will leave your guests asking for seconds.

In summary, the key to choosing the right short ribs for your ragu is to prioritize bone-in English-cut ribs with excellent marbling. This choice will set the stage for a truly exceptional dish that combines rich, complex flavors with melt-in-your-mouth tenderness.

Choosing the Right Short Ribs

2. Ingredients for Short Rib Ragu Recipe

Creating a sublime Short Rib Ragu begins with assembling the right ingredients. Here's a list of the essentials you'll need to craft this hearty Italian-inspired dish:

  1. Bone-In English-Cut Short Ribs (Approx. 3 pounds): The star of the show, these ribs provide rich meatiness and ample marbling, essential for a flavorful and tender ragu.
  2. Olive Oil (Approx. 2 tablespoons): Used for searing the short ribs and sautéing aromatics, it adds a delightful hint of Mediterranean flavor.
  3. Onion (1, finely chopped): Provides a sweet and savory base note to the sauce.
  4. Carrots (2, diced): Adds sweetness and texture to the ragu, balancing the richness of the meat.
  5. Celery Stalks (2, diced): Offers depth of flavor and a pleasant crunch.
  6. Garlic (4 cloves, minced): Enhances the aroma and taste profile with its aromatic richness.
  7. Canned Crushed Tomatoes (2 cans, 28 ounces each): Forms the base of your ragu, providing acidity and texture.
  8. Bay Leaves (2): Infuses subtle herbal notes into the sauce.
  9. Dried Thyme (1 teaspoon): Enhances the earthy flavors of the dish.
  10. Salt and Pepper (to taste): Seasoning is key to achieving a balanced flavor profile.

With these ingredients at your disposal, you're well on your way to crafting a Short Rib Ragu that's sure to impress and satisfy.

Ingredients for Short Rib Ragu Recipe

3. Searing the Short Ribs

Searing the short ribs is the critical starting point for making a Short Rib Ragu that's truly exceptional. This step is all about building layers of flavor and texture that will make your dish stand out.

Begin by patting your approximately 3 pounds of bone-in English-cut short ribs dry with paper towels. This helps create a better sear and prevents moisture from hindering the browning process. Season the ribs generously with salt and pepper on all sides, ensuring that every inch of meat is well-seasoned.

Heat a Dutch oven or a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat and add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil is hot and shimmering, carefully place the seasoned short ribs into the pot. The sizzling sound as the meat meets the hot surface is a chef's delight, signifying the development of rich, complex flavors.

Sear the short ribs until they attain a deep, caramelized brown crust on all sides. This process typically takes 3-4 minutes per side. The Maillard reaction, responsible for the browning, enhances the umami and savory qualities of the meat.

Remember, the goal isn't to fully cook the short ribs at this stage but to create that delicious outer layer. Once seared to perfection, transfer the ribs to a plate and set them aside. The flavorful fond (the browned bits) left in the pot is the foundation of your ragu's complexity, ready to be enhanced in the subsequent steps.

Searing the Short Ribs

4. Building Flavor with Aromatics

Building flavor with aromatics is the next crucial step in creating an exquisite Short Rib Ragu. Aromatics, such as onions, carrots, celery, and garlic, form the aromatic base of your sauce, infusing it with layers of savory depth and richness.

After searing the short ribs to perfection, use the same pot to sauté finely chopped onions, diced carrots, and diced celery. These aromatic vegetables, commonly referred to as the "holy trinity" in cooking, provide the foundation for many Italian sauces and stews, including ragu.

As the onions turn translucent and release their sweetness, the carrots contribute a subtle sweetness, and the celery adds a pleasant earthy note. The melding of these flavors creates the perfect backdrop for the rich short rib meat and the tomato-based sauce.

Adding minced garlic to the sautéing aromatics elevates the aroma and taste profile of your ragu. Garlic infuses a warm, aromatic depth, enhancing the overall complexity of the dish.

This step not only imparts flavor but also serves as a bridge between the initial searing process and the braising that follows. It ensures that every layer of your Short Rib Ragu is imbued with the rich essence of the ingredients, promising a sauce that's robust, hearty, and deeply satisfying. With this aromatic foundation in place, your ragu is well on its way to becoming a culinary masterpiece.

Building Flavor with Aromatics

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5. Deglazing and Creating the Sauce

Deglazing and creating the sauce is the pivotal moment in crafting a luxurious Short Rib Ragu. This step transforms the flavorful fond (those caramelized bits at the bottom of the pot) into a rich and complex sauce that will envelop your tender short ribs.

To start, return the seared short ribs to the pot where you've sautéed the aromatics. Pour in approximately 1 cup of beef broth, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot to release all those savory browned bits. This deglazing process is where the magic happens, as the broth absorbs the concentrated flavors and aromas, infusing the sauce with an exquisite depth.

Once the broth has reduced by about half, add two cans (28 ounces each) of crushed tomatoes, dried thyme, and bay leaves. The crushed tomatoes serve as the base of your sauce, providing both acidity and texture. Thyme and bay leaves contribute subtle herbal notes that harmonize beautifully with the richness of the short ribs.

With these ingredients in place, you're well on your way to creating a sauce that's a symphony of flavors. The slowly simmering Short Rib Ragu promises to be the perfect marriage of savory, sweet, and aromatic, setting the stage for the long, slow braise that will make your dish truly unforgettable.

Deglazing and Creating the Sauce

6. Braising and Simmering

Braising and simmering are the heart and soul of the Short Rib Ragu recipe, where patience and time work their culinary magic to transform tough cuts of meat into tender, flavorful perfection.

After deglazing and creating the base sauce, it's time to reintroduce the seared short ribs to the pot. The meat is nestled into the aromatic sauce, where it will undergo a slow and gentle cooking process. This phase requires low and consistent heat, which softens the collagen in the meat, rendering it tender while imparting a depth of flavor.

The simmering process should continue for a minimum of 3 hours, but longer is even better. This extended cooking time allows the short ribs to absorb the flavors of the sauce and release their rich, savory essence into the dish. The sauce will thicken, becoming velvety and luxurious as it slowly reduces, and the meat will become fork-tender, easily falling off the bone.

Throughout this braising and simmering journey, the Short Rib Ragu undergoes a remarkable transformation. Toughness gives way to succulence, and the sauce evolves into a symphony of flavors. It's a testament to the time-honored tradition of slow cooking, where the end result is nothing short of spectacular.

So, as your Short Rib Ragu gently simmers away on the stovetop, take a moment to savor the anticipation of the delightful meal that awaits you—a dish that embodies the essence of patience and culinary mastery.

Braising and Simmering the Short Ribs

7. Finishing Touches and Serving

As your Short Rib Ragu nears completion, a few finishing touches are essential to elevate this culinary masterpiece to its full potential. These final steps ensure that every plate is a work of art, ready to be savored.

  1. Taste and Adjust: Before serving, taste your ragu and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper as needed. Ensuring the perfect balance of flavors is essential for a memorable dining experience.
  2. Shred the Meat: Remove the bay leaves from the sauce and use a fork to shred the tender short rib meat, discarding any bones. This step ensures that each bite is a harmonious blend of meat and sauce.
  3. Choose Your Base: Decide whether you'll be serving your Short Rib Ragu over pasta, such as pappardelle or tagliatelle, or perhaps creamy polenta. Both options are fantastic, and your choice depends on personal preference.
  4. Garnish: Finish your dish with a flourish. Sprinkle freshly grated Parmesan cheese over the top for a rich, nutty flavor. A touch of fresh basil or parsley adds a pop of color and a hint of freshness.
  5. Presentation: Serve your Short Rib Ragu on warm plates, ensuring that the sauce is ladled generously over the pasta or polenta. This careful presentation showcases the rich, luscious sauce and tender meat.

With these finishing touches, your Short Rib Ragu is ready to be enjoyed. Gather your loved ones, and savor each bite of this hearty and satisfying Italian-inspired comfort food. It's a meal that speaks to the heart and soul of home cooking, a culinary triumph that's both comforting and indulgent.

Finishing Touches and Serving Short Ribs Ragu

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Creating a luxurious Short Rib Ragu is a labor of love, but the rewards are worth every minute of effort. With the right cut of short ribs, quality ingredients, and a bit of patience, you can craft a ragu that rivals those found in the finest Italian restaurants. Embrace the warmth and comfort of a homemade meal that elevates the ordinary to the extraordinary. Whether you're cooking for family, friends, or yourself, Short Rib Ragu is a culinary journey that's sure to satisfy your soul and your taste buds.

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