There’s something about taking inexpensive, tough cuts of meat, and slowly, over the course of a cool, rainy autumn Friday, turning them into tender, fall-off-the-bone hunks of succulent flavor and fat, that is immeasurably satisfying. It’s the kind of thing dads seem to know how to do automatically, and it’s high time you learn it, too.
The secret ingredient in this dish? A finishing dust of shaved bittersweet chocolate. I’ll admit that there’s a moment of panic when you start shaving chocolate onto your finished pasta, that’s you’ve slaved over all day, but you’re just going to have to trust me on this one. As delicious as this sauce is on its own, there’s something about the over-the-top beefiness of slow-cooked shortrib that can border on being just a little bit funky and intense. A dab of bittersweet chocolate completely counteracts that, and adds a mysterious depth to the dish that people won’t quite be able to put their fingers on.
Short Ribs with Tagliatelle
Adapted from a recipe by Giada de Laurentiis
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 ounces chopped pancetta (about 1/2 cup)
- 2 1/2 pounds short ribs
- Salt and pepper
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
- 1 carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
- 1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 (14-ounce) can tomatoes (whole or diced)
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 1/2 cups beef broth
- 3/4 cup red wine
- 8 ounces egg tagliatelle
- 4 to 6 teaspoons bittersweet chocolate, shaved
- Pour olive oil into a heavy soup pot, over medium heat. Add pancetta and cook until crisp, about four minutes. Meanwhile, season short ribs with salt and pepper, and coat with flour. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta from the pan, and drain on paper towels. Add the short ribs to the rendered pancetta fat and brown on all sides, about 7 minutes total.
- While short ribs sear, add the onion, carrot, parsley and garlic to the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely minced. Add the tomatoes and tomato paste, and pulse again until combined.
- Once the short ribs are browned, add the mixture from the food processor to the pot. Return the pancetta to the pot and stir. Add the rosemary, thyme, oregano, bay leaf, beef broth, and wine. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Remove the lid and simmer for another hour and a half, stirring and turning short ribs occasionally. Using tongs, remove the meat and bones from the pot, and discard the bones. Shred the meat, removing any large chunks of fat, and return it to the pot. Season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 3/4 teaspoon pepper, or to taste.
- 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 a minute less than package directions. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Add the pasta to the pot of sauce, and stir to combine. Add the reserved pasta liquid 1/4 cup at a time, as needed, to moisten the pasta. Transfer to serving bowls, and top each bowl with 1 teaspoon of chocolate shavings. Serve immediately.