Braised Beef Ragu with Pappardelle (or any kind of braised short ribs) might just be my favorite recipe ever. Like, ever ever. We’re talking last meal kind of dish. I love it for the hearty braising liquid and the tender, succulent meat. As a wine lover, some of my favorite red wines (and probably yours) just happen to go with this dish — too bad it’s not health food because I’d eat this every day if I could.
I made a batch of braised beef short ribs for Mrs. B on our anniversary, then saved the remaining braising liquid that went into a spaghetti with meat sauce dish a few days later. That was basically a jar of tomato sauce mixed 1:1 with braising liquid mixed with fresh pasta. So simple, yet so deliciously decadent.
The beautiful thing about braised beef is it’s so decadent and so complex. And it’s really quite easy to do—the secret is just simmering the beef in the liquid for a few hours so it gets tender.
Nebbiolo from Barolo or Barbaresco might be the best option because those wines are surprisingly complex yet delicate in their palate weight. On the nose, Barolo or Barbaresco (both made with Nebbiolo) is chock full of ripe fruits, cooked fruits as well as all sorts of earthiness like forest floor, cooked mushroom, moss and damp soil. Basically, both the dish and wine are lighter in weight, yet very complex. A few vintages to look for are 2001, 2005 and 2007.
From Washington’s Walla Walla valley comes L’Ecole No. 41. Most people probably don’t realize how well wine from Walla Walla age, but you can read my write up here. L’Ecole hit one out of the park with their 2001 Merlot. By now, it has mellowed a bit with age yet preserved its earthy characters, which are inherent in Merlot. The wine is so pretty and complex, with similar palate weight as the dish. You will look like a frickin’ champ if you serve for guests. Visit the winery website here.