This luscious ragu starts with organic beef oxtails, which are simmered with pancetta, garlic, vegetables and herbs in red wine until the meat is falling-off-the-bone-tender. Use a good-quality, full-bodied organic red wine such as a Chianti or Cabernet Sauvignon (and be sure to save some for sipping alongside the finished dish).
Serves: 6-8 as main course
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 2 – 2 1/2 hours
Special Equipment: Heavy pot or Dutch oven with a tight fitting lid
- 1 pound organic oxtails (about 4 1-inch oxtails), trimmed
- Salt & freshly ground pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 4 ounces pancetta, finely diced (about 1 cup diced)
- 1 large onion, finely diced
- 3 medium or 2 large carrots, peeled and finely diced
- 1 stalk celery, finely diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced (2 tablespoons minced)
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 4-inch sprig rosemary
- 4 large sprigs thyme
- 1 sprig parsley (with stem)
- 2 cups full-bodied organic red wine, such as Chianti or Cabernet Sauvignon
- 1 – 1 1/2 cups low-sodium beef broth
- Papperadelle pasta (preferably fresh)
- Freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- Season the oxtails on both sides with salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy-bottomed pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and crisped, about 5-6 minutes. Remove the pancetta with a slotted spoon and transfer to a large plate.
- Increase the heat to medium-high. Sear the oxtails in the hot fat in a single layer (if your pot isn’t big enough to fit all the shanks in one layer, do this in 2 batches). Cook until deep golden brown on each side. Transfer the shanks to the plate with the pancetta.
- Reduce the heat to medium-low. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil to the pot along with the onions, carrots and celery. Sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, 8-10 minutes.
- Add the garlic, tomato paste, bay leaf, rosemary, thyme and parsley. Cook for 1 minute or until fragrant. Pour in the wine, scraping up the brown bits on the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook 1 minute.
- Put the oxtails and pancetta back into the pot with any juices. Pour in enough beef broth to nearly cover the meat. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat to a slow simmer. Cover the pan tightly and simmer gently for 3 – 3 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally, until the meat is tender and beginning to fall off the bone.
- Remove the bay leaf and herb sprigs and discard. Transfer the oxtails to a cutting board to cool. Meanwhile, bring the liquid in the pot to a boil and cook 2-5 minutes, or until reduced slightly and thickened. Lower the heat to a simmer. Coarsely chop the meat from the cooled oxtails, discarding the bones. Add the meat back into the pot and cook just until warmed through. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- To serve, toss the ragu with cooked papperadelle pasta and freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Sprinkle additional cheese over each serving before digging in.
Do Ahead: The ragu is even better if made a day or two in advance. Cool completely then cover tightly and refrigerate. Reheat on the stove over medium-low heat. The ragu can also be frozen for up to one month.