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Playing Christmas Pasta


  • 6 tablespoons EVOO Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided
  • 1/4 pound pancetta, diced
  • 6 bone-in beef short ribs (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 2 to 3 carrots, chopped
  • 2 to 3 ribs celery, chopped
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 7 to 8 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
  • Leaves from 1 sprig fresh oregano or marjoram, chopped
  • A pinch of ground cloves
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 cups Barolo or other rich red wine
  • 1 10 1/2-ounce can beef consomm
  • 1 28- to 32-ounce can San Marzano tomatoes (look for D.O.P. on the label) or 2 1/2 to 3 pounds fresh tomatoes
  • 3/4 pound bulk hot Italian sausage
  • 3/4 pound bulk sweet Italian sausage
  • 2 pounds rigatoni pasta
  • 1 cup grated Pecorino cheese


Serves: 6


Preheat the oven to 325F. In a large Dutch oven, heat 4 tablespoons EVOO, 4 turns of the pan, over medium-high heat. Add the pancetta and render out the fat until crisp. Remove the pancetta with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

Season the short ribs generously with salt and pepper. Add them to the pan, brown on all sides you may need to do this in batches and set aside. Stir in the carrots, celery, onions, garlic, rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano and cloves. Partially cover the vegetables and cook to soften a bit, 5-8 minutes. Once softened, add the tomato paste and stir for a minute or two to incorporate then add the wine, consomm and tomatoes.

Return the short ribs and pancetta to the pot, stir everything together and bring up to a simmer. Cover and bake until the meat is tender to the touch or falls apart easily, 2-2 1/2 hours. Cool and refrigerate overnight if making ahead.

Remove the excess fat that has floated to the top and solidified. Remove the short ribs from the sauce, take the meat off the bones and shred with two forks or with your fingers. Add the meat back into the sauce and discard the bones. Place the pot over medium heat to bring up to temperature.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons EVOO, 2 turns of the pan, over medium-high heat. Add the sausages to the pan and cook, breaking them up with the back of a wooden spoon, until browned, crisp and crumbly, 8-10 minutes. Drain the sausages and add them to the meat sauce. Stir together to combine.

While the meat sauce is coming together, bring a large pot of water to a boil for the rigatoni. Salt the boiling water and cook the rigatoni to al dente.

Toss the pasta with the meat sauce. Place the pasta in bowls and top with the Pecorino cheese.