Short rib bolognese

Posted by
Big on flavour, short rib bolognese

This is one of the best meat pasta sauces I have ever tasted. I came across it when looking for something special to feed a friends – a family of 4 – visiting us in London (the request was for spag bol!). This should feed 6 easy but can be stretched without too much difficulty. This is a rich, thick sauce which will satisfy any hunger. If you are worried about the carbs in the pasta it will work equally well with broccoli.

I have adapted this one from a Nigel Slater recipe. Nigel has a fantastic repertoire of recipes published all over the place. In his, Nigel uses heritage tomatoes and keeps his sauce chunky and herb free. In absence of heritage tomatoes I have used tinned tomatoes and added herbs to give it a little more oomph.

Short rib is a cheap cut of beef so we’re looking at a low and slow cook here – make sure you have the time to give this sauce the love it deserves and you’ll have a winning meal for friends and family. There is a lot of flavour in the meat, the bones, and all the connective tissues and collagen which will break down during the cooking process. By the way, collagen is really good for your skin as well as joint, injury recovery and sleep!

The base of this sauce is the holy trinity (but not quite a soffritto) of onions, celery and carrots. But we are not flavouring this in the classic way – I had some rosemary, parsley and bay leaf in the fridge so this became the base of the dish, you could use thyme or oregano instead. You can spice this up as well if you want – just add a little chilli powder or cayenne pepper. I also used a blender to on the sauce which is not necessarily a classic Italian cooking technique but I don’t like wasting good vegetables.

Whilst this is a long, slow cook you can bulk up the ingredients easily and freeze the finished sauce in handy portions sizes.

Serve with pasta and a side salad of rocket and hard pecorino cheese drizzled generously with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

(serves 5-6)

  • 2 beef short ribs
  • 1 red onion, cut into quarters
  • 1 yellow onion, cut into quarters
  • 2 large carrots, cut into 4mm batons
  • 2 sticks of celery, cut into 4mm batons
  • 500g fresh tomatoes, passata or tinned tomatoes
  • rosemary, few sprigs
  • 2 bay leaves
  • a few parsley stalks
  • 1 bulb garlic, whole
  • 500ml beef stock
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • red wine vinegar
  • brown mushrooms
  • Pasta
  • Hard cheese to serve
  • salt and black pepper
The veg ready to cook


  1. Keeping the ribs whole, bring them up to room temperature and season well with salt. Put the oven on at 200C/180C fan/390F.
  2. Brown the meat in a large pan with a little oil. You may find the ribs separate but this does not matter.
  3. Place the browned ribs in a baking tray with the onions, carrots and celery; drizzle with a little oil, salt and pepper and put in the oven for 20-25 minutes. Oh, wrap the garlic bulb in foil with a little oil and drop it on top of the tray.
  4. After 20 minutes, remove the garlic in its foil and let cool (it should be soft by now). Give the veg and meat in the tray a quick stir and add the tomatoes, stock and herbs – best to tie the herbs together with a bit of string as it is easier to fish them out after cooking. You can also add a splash of red wine vinegar at this point. Put the tray back in the oven for 1 hour.
  5. Remove the ribs from the sauce and set aside and transfer the sauce into a saucepan or pot. Now take your roasted garlic and squeeze it into the sauce trying not to let any of the papery skin fall into the sauce.
  6. Blitz the sauce with a stick blender, or in a blender, and blend until smooth.
  7. Shred the meat from the bones, it should fall apart and the bones should pull out easily. Throw away the bones and any hard bits of cartilage and gristle (you don’t want to eat these bits and they have given up their flavour to the sauce).
  8. Cook your pasta of choice and fry off the mushrooms just before serving and stir into the sauce.
  9. Grate some Parmesan over the top.
  10. Serve!

One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.