Can you imagine a dish where the deep richness of shaved dark chocolate mixed with the salty bite of grated pecorino mingling atop a heading bowl of tender fresh pasta slathered in a rich and meaty sauce? Well Giada De Laurentiis and her everyday Italian recipe did and thank god she did because this is one of the easiest dishes that makes you want to climb into the bowl and roll around in the sauce. It is that good. Seriously. I don’t make a lot of dishes with short ribs. They are a pretty inexpensive cut of meat and you have to cook the heck out of them for a tender result, but it’s worth it. This dish uses a lot of standard pantry ingredients with the exception of the pancetta but honestly, you can substitute in bacon. And then it sits there, in the pot, bubbling away doing all the work so when it’s done, you just shred the meat, toss the sauce with the pasta and away you go! Magic. Pasta and meat magic. That’s my kind of food. And the richness of the meaty sauce is enhanced by a surprising supporting actor….shaved dark chocolate gives a smooth, slightly sweet and unctuous depth to this dish. And let’s face it, the idea of putting chocolate on pasta is just cool. I also add some pecorino because I love the play of the salty with the sweet. I made this on a week night. But I work from home so I can trot down to my kitchen and spend 20 minutes getting it together. After that it just cooks on its own. I highly recommend this one for your next special meal….it’s a hit at dinner parties.
Short Ribs with Tagliatelle
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 ounces chopped pancetta (about 1/2 cup) (can substitute with bacon)
2 1/2 pounds short ribs
Freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 medium onion, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1/2 cup fresh parsley leaves
2 cloves garlic 1 (14-ounce) can tomatoes (whole or diced) (suggest fire roasted variety)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves (can use dried)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 bay leaf
2 1/4 cups beef broth
1 cup red wine
1 pound fresh or dried tagliatelle
4 to 6 teaspoons shaved bittersweet chocolate
Place the olive oil in a large heavy soup pot over medium heat. Cook the pancetta (or bacon) until golden and crisp, about 4 minutes. Meanwhile, season the short ribs with salt and pepper, and dredge in the flour. Using a slotted spoon, remove the pancetta from the pan and set aside. Add the short ribs to the pan and brown on all sides, about 7 minutes total.
Meanwhile, combine the onion, carrot, parsley and garlic in a food processor and blend until finely minced. Then add the tomatoes and tomato paste and pulse.
Once the short ribs are browned, carefully 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 occasionally. Remove the meat and bones from the pot. Discard the bones. Shred the meat 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 8 to 10 minutes for dried pasta and 2 to 3 minutes for fresh. Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Add the pasta to the pot and stir to combine. Add the reserved pasta liquid 1/4 cup at a time, if needed, to moisten the pasta (I rarely need it). Transfer to serving bowls, top each bowl with 1 teaspoon of chocolate shavings and allow guests to serve their own pecorino. Serve immediately.