Slow Cooker Short Rib Ragu

Slow Cooker Short Rib Ragu |Foodie Goes Healthy
My friend Todd is the ultimate food connoisseur. He grew up in a restaurant family, so it’s in his blood. He knows all the new hot restaurants in Los Angeles before they even open. He likes new and cutting edge. He’s my “go-to” guy if I’m looking for a new restaurant to try. Recently, he gave me his current Top 9 LA Restaurants. If you’re a foodie, I’m sure you will like his list.

Todd’s Top 9:

Tar and Roses
Plan Check
Night + Market
Son of a Gun

When Todd isn’t busy dining out, he sometimes uses his refined palate to cook in his kitchen. Recently, he mentioned a slow cooker short rib ragu that he whipped up. The dish sounded amazing, so I had to re-create it. Todd cooks by feel, so he didn’t have a written recipe for me to follow. I was prepared to wing it, but once I was in the kitchen, I had many questions for Todd. Throughout my cooking, I emailed him numerous times for clarification. Thankfully, he’s a good friend. He quickly answered all my emails to coach me through it.  As a fellow foodie, I think he understands my cooking obsession. To thank Todd for the amazing recipe and for tolerating all my emails, I shared the delicious results with him and his family. Todd said I “nailed the recipe.”


This pasta ragu sauce has plentiful, tender meat coated with a flavorful tomato sauce. It’s meaty, not saucy. The ragu goes really well with a wide flat noodle like pappardelle or tagliatelle. What a delicious Italian feast.

Tips for tender meat and a flavorful sauce:
– Browning = flavor, so brown the short ribs in a skillet first.
– Then brown the aromatic vegetables (onions, carrots, celery) in the same pan and deglaze the pan with wine to scrap up the flavor from the browned bits in the pan.
– Cook with bones to add more flavor to the sauce.
– Cook the sauce low and slow to tenderize the meat.
– Let the sauce sit overnight in the refrigerator to let the flavors meld. Reheat the next day to further tenderize the meat.

Slow Cooker Short Rib Ragu
Serves: 8
Adapted from my friend Todd
  • 2 to 2-1/2 pounds beef short ribs with bone-in
  • Kosher or sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 medium onion, diced small
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1 celery stock, diced small (optional)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • ½ cup red wine
  • 28 ounce box or can of unsalted strained tomatoes (or tomato sauce)
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons of fresh thyme (or 1-1/4 teaspoons dried thyme)
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Serve with 1 pound (16 ounces) of pasta
  • Top with Parmesan cheese (optional)
  1. Heat a large skillet on medium high heat. Dry short ribs and lightly sprinkle with salt and pepper. Brown short ribs on all four sides (about several minutes per side). Adjust the flame lower if there is a lot of splatter. Move the short ribs to the slow cooker.
  2. Drain most of the fat. Put the onion, carrot and celery (optional) in the skillet and lightly salt and pepper. Brown vegetables on a medium flame, stirring occasionally (about 10 minutes). Add the garlic and sauté for about one minute more.
  3. Pour in the red wine, and scrap any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Let the wine gently boil and reduce until most visible liquid has evaporated. Stir occasionally. Add in the tomato sauce, herbs, sugar, and just a little more salt and pepper. Stir to combine the sauce. Pour the sauce over the short ribs in the slow cooker.
  4. Start the slow cooker and cook on low for 9 hours or until the meat is tender and falling off the bone. Alternatively, park the slow cooker insert in the refrigerator until ready to start the slow cooker. If you start the slow cooker with cold ingredients, increase the cooking time to 10 hours total.
  5. Skim any liquid fat off the top. Once the meat is very tender, pull the meat off of the bones. Remove any fat and connective tissue that you can. Shred the meat with two forks or your fingers. Remove the bay leaf. Stir to coat all the meat with sauce. Taste for seasoning, and add more salt, pepper, herbs, or sugar if needed. Put the meat sauce in a pot or skillet. Let cool somewhat and refrigerate overnight.
  6. Reheat the sauce the next day on the stove at a simmer for about 30 minutes. Make sure the sauce is warm and serve over pasta. Top with Parmesan cheese if desired.

Slow Cooker Short Rib Ragu |Foodie Goes Healthy

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