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Slow Cooker Italian Short Rib Ragu

Slow Cooker Italian Short Rib Ragu is an authentic thick and hearty Italian meat sauce with rich, deep flavor and tender pieces of meat.

Slow Cooker Italian Short Rib Ragu is an authentic thick and hearty Italian meat sauce with rich, deep flavor and tender pieces of meat ~ The Complete Savorist by Michelle De La Cerda

Of course it was bound to happen. I love short ribs. I love Italian. They had to be married.  

This Slow Cooker Italian Short Rib Ragu utilizes the slow cooker to draw out the flavorful richness of the short ribs. That flavor gets infused in to the ragu sauce ultimately producing a robust savory delight that will rock your world.

What are Short Ribs?

Short ribs are not actually named for being “short” in length. The name originates from the cut of beef they come from called the short plate.  

For those of you familiar with cuts off beef, the short plate is right in front of the flank steak cut and just behind the brisket.

Braising, Kalbi (also known as Korean style barbeque), and barbecuing are all common ways to prepare short ribs.  

Short ribs offer 1-2” of meat on top of the bone that is relatively straight.  There are 3 types of short ribs, English cut being the most common. Flanken cut short ribs and short rib riblets are the others. All three would work for this recipe.

Slow Cooker Italian Short Rib Ragu is an authentic thick and hearty Italian meat sauce with rich, deep flavor and tender pieces of meat ~ The Complete Savorist by Michelle De La Cerda

What does Ragu mean?

What comes to mind when you hear the work “Ragu?”  I imagine for most of you it’s the popular brand name pasta sauce you find in a variety of flavors on the shelf at any grocery store.

But the word has actually been around a lot longer than the brand.  Fun fact, the first recorded recipe for a meat based sauce can be dated back to the 18th century.

The Italians define ragu as any sauce containing meat that has simmered for a significant amount of time that is served over a bed of pasta.

What meat is used in a ragu?

The type of meat used can vary from beef to pork to just about any type of poultry. The liquid options are just as versatile ranging from broths to creams to water or even to wine.  

Slight differences in the ingredients vary from region to region in Italy, but the presence of substantial meat is consistent.  

In Southern Italy the meat is often strained out of the sauce prior to serving and served separate from the sauce and pasta. In Northern Italy, the meat is served as part of the dish.

Slow Cooker Italian Short Rib Ragu is an authentic thick and hearty Italian meat sauce with rich, deep flavor and tender pieces of meat ~ The Complete Savorist by Michelle De La Cerda

Slow Cooker Italian Short Rib Ragu

This recipe mimics the traditional style of ragu by cooking the short ribs in a thick, rich sauce. The flavors from the ribs get incorporated during the long cooking time in the slow cooker.

I use wine, beef broth, balsamic vinegar, and the juice from canned tomatoes to create my liquid base. I also add in some pancetta to offer a meat flavor complementary to the short ribs.

Onion, garlic, carrots, and celery are simmered for several hours, giving them time to get tender as well as allowing for their flavors to meld into the sauce.

After several hours of simmering, the result is a delectable, beefy stew-like sauce that pairs great with a sturdy noodle.  The rib meat will fall of the bone and the veggies will melt in your mouth providing you will a robust and flavorful dish that is sure to please.

Slow Cooker Italian Short Rib Ragu is an authentic thick and hearty Italian meat sauce with rich, deep flavor and tender pieces of meat ~ The Complete Savorist by Michelle De La Cerda

Slow Cooker Italian Short Rib Ragu is an authentic thick and hearty Italian meat sauce with rich, deep flavor and tender pieces of meat ~ The Complete Savorist by Michelle De La Cerda

Slow Cooker Italian Short Rib Ragu is an authentic thick and hearty Italian meat sauce with rich, deep flavor and tender pieces of meat ~ The Complete Savorist by Michelle De La Cerda

Slow Cooker Italian Short Rib Ragu

Course: Dinner/Slow Cooker
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: Beef, Easy Recipe, Gluten Free, Pasta Dinner, Short Ribs, slow cooker
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6
Author: Michelle De La Cerda

Slow Cooker Italian Short Rib Ragu is an authentic thick and hearty Italian meat sauce with rich, deep flavor and tender pieces of meat.

Print

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs beef short ribs
  • 3-4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 oz pancetta; chopped (do not use bacon)
  • 1 yellow onion; chunked
  • 6-8 garlic cloves; minced/grated
  • 3 carrots; peeled, chopped
  • 3 celery ribs; chopped
  • 6 oz can tomato paste
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 cup beef stock
  • 1 cup red wine
  • 1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 14.5 oz can stewed tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp fresh basil; chopped

Instructions

  1. In a skillet or cast iron pan add 1 tbsp. olive oil over medium high heat.

  2. Sprinkle ribs with salt and pepper; sear on all sides-about 2 minutes per side.

  3. Once seared, transferred to the slow cooker on low, cover.

  4. In the same skillet or pan, add the pancetta (if using) and cook until just-crisp, 4-5 minutes.

  5. Add the onions; sauté until they begin to soften, about 3 minutes.

  6. Stir in the garlic, celery, and carrots; sautéing an additional 2 minutes.

  7. Add the tomato paste and sugar stirring until well blended, about 1 minute.

  8. Add the wine and broth, bring to a boil and deglaze the pan, bringing up any stuck-on bits on the bottom.

  9. Stir in the crushed and stewed tomatoes and their juices, the broth, and balsamic; bring to a boil.

  10. Reduce heat to medium.

  11. Stir in the basil, fennel, oregano, thyme, parsley, salt, pepper, and bay leaves; combine well.

  12. Transfer the sauce to the slow cooker; replace the lid.

  13. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

  14. Skim as much renderings as possible from the surface. 

  15. Serve over polenta, garlic mashed potatoes, pasta (like pappardelle, paccheri, tagliatelle, or other large pasta)

  16. Garnish with freshly chopped parsley and grated parmesan. 

Recipe Notes

Enameled Cast Iron / French Casserole / Dutch Oven

Preheat an oven to 350°F.

Heat pot over medium high heat; add 1 tbsp. olive oil.

Sprinkle ribs with salt and pepper; sear on all sides-about 2 minutes per side.

Once seared, transfer to a plate, set aside.

In the same skillet or pot, add the pancetta (if using) and cook until just-crisp, 4-5 minutes.

Add the onions; sauté until they begin to soften, about 3 minutes.

Stir in the garlic, celery, and carrots; sautéing an additional 2 minutes.

Add the tomato paste and sugar stirring until well blended, about 1 minute.

Add the wine and broth, bring to a boil and deglaze the pan, bringing up any stuck-on bits on the bottom.

Stir in the crushed and stewed tomatoes and their juices, the broth and balsamic and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to medium.

Stir in the basil, fennel, oregano, thyme, parsley, salt, pepper, and bay leaves; combine well.

Return the ribs and any escaped juices; mix in well.

Cover and place in the oven.

Cook for 2-3 hours; until the meat falls from the bones.

Skim as much renderings as possible from the surface. 

Serve over polenta, garlic mashed potatoes, pasta (like pappardelle, paccheri, tagliatelle, or other large pasta)

Garnish with freshly chopped parsley and grated parmesan. 

Slow Cooker Italian Short Rib Ragu is an authentic thick and hearty Italian meat sauce with rich, deep flavor and tender pieces of meat ~ The Complete Savorist by Michelle De La Cerda

Slow Cooker Italian Short Rib Ragu is an authentic thick and hearty Italian meat sauce with rich, deep flavor and tender pieces of meat ~ The Complete Savorist by Michelle De La Cerda

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12 Comments

  • Reply
    Meghan
    December 4, 2018 at 6:58 pm

    This looks like the most comforting meal! I could eat it all winter long.

  • Reply
    Michelle
    December 4, 2018 at 7:40 pm

    Short ribs are one of my favorites! This looks absolutely wonderful…perfect comfort food!

  • Reply
    Katerina @ diethood .com
    December 5, 2018 at 3:40 am

    mmm..these look really, reeeeeaaally GOOD!! YUM!!

  • Reply
    Jamielyn
    December 5, 2018 at 6:57 am

    This looks amazing! Perfect comfort food!

  • Reply
    Allison
    December 5, 2018 at 10:39 am

    A comforting meal for these chill days! Love it!

    • Reply
      Michelle De La Cerda
      December 5, 2018 at 11:26 am

      I absolutely agree. It’s snowing now and I wish I had these cooking.

  • Reply
    Brandy O'Neill
    December 5, 2018 at 1:09 pm

    Getting my slow cooker out to make this!

  • Reply
    Erin | Dinners,Dishes and Dessert
    December 6, 2018 at 8:54 am

    This looks incredibly delicious!

  • Leave a Reply

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