Picture this. It's a crisp, cool Autumn Sunday. You've just gone for a nice long walk, and as you walk into the house you're engulfed by the deep, rich smell of a meaty, slow-cooked tomato sauce bubbling away on the stove. You toss it with your favorite pasta and carry it out to the dining table, where your family is gathered, chatting loudly and passing the salad and bread. You set the pasta on the table, and your family digs in, spooning big piles of noodles and sauce onto their plates. Suddenly the conversation stops. You look around and everyone is lost in their bowls, slurping the noodles and sopping up sauce with bread. Some have their eyes closed. Others have sauce All. Over. Their. Faces. You smile. This. This is what Sundays are for.
This recipe calls for my Italian Countryside Spice Blend, which is a combination of porcini mushrooms, rosemary, thyme, garlic, onion, salt and pepper. It adds a surprising depth of flavor and a richness that will surprise you, even in a meat-packed, slow-cooked sauce like this one. You can get yours here.
Now let's get cooking, shall we?
Short Rib Sunday Sauce
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 pounds boneless beef short ribs, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped (about 1 pound)
2 tablespoons double-concentrated tomato paste
4 ounces roasted garlic (see recipe here) (Note: If you don't have roasted garlic, you can use 5-6 minced garlic cloves instead, but the roasted garlic really is magical.)
2 tablespoons Italian Countryside Spice Blend
1 medium carrot, peeled
Two 28-ounce cans whole peeled tomatoes
2 pounds pasta of choice (I love a wide noodle such as pappardelle, but any long noodle will do)
Freshly grated parmesan cheese, for serving
Season the beef all over with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large enameled Dutch oven over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add half of beef and brown on all sides before removing to a bowl and repeating with the remaining beef.
Decrease the heat to medium and add the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion begins to soften. Add the tomato paste and stir to coat the onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the tomato paste starts to darken. Add the roasted garlic and Italian Countryside Spice Blend and stir to combine.
Add the carrot and the tomatoes and their juices, crushing the tomatoes by hand as you add them to the pot. Bring the sauce to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Partially cover the Dutch oven with the lid and simmer 4 hours, stirring occasionally, until the sauce has thickened and the beef is tender and can be pulled apart with a couple of forks. Remove the carrot and then shred the beef and stir to mix well.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente. Drain the pasta, reserving some pasta water. Add pasta to the sauce and stir gently to coat, adding a little bit of pasta water to loosen the sauce if necessary. Transfer pasta to a serving bowl, if desired, or serve directly from the Dutch oven. Sprinkle with freshly grated cheese and enjoy!
Make Ahead: You can make this sauce in advance. Cool it completely before refrigerating or freezing.
Suggested Wine Pairing: Pair this sauce with a big, bold red wine with lots of bright fruit and spice, like the Esprit de Tablas from Tablas Creek in Paso Robles.