Similar to a bolognese but instead of using ground meat we use bone-in short ribs that are roasted until the meat is so tender that it falls off the bone. This sauce starts on the stove and finishes roasting in the oven. Low and slow is the key here. The result is a rich savory meat sauce that goes perfectly with a flat long pasta like fettuccini or pappardelle. You need to use a flat noodle so the sauce has something to cling to. The sauce combines flavors of sweet and savory with a touch of spicy. I like to top the pasta with an individual sized ball of burrata weighing 2 ounces.
Tip on serving the best mozzarella:
Put the mozzarella in the microwave for one minute to warm it up before you place it on the pasta. When I owned my restaurant I was told by our mozzarella company to always serve fresh mozzarella slightly warm. When fresh mozzarella is made it comes out of the water warm and is shaped into a ball. There is nothing like truly fresh mozzarella that has never been refrigerated. The flavor is so smooth and mild. When fresh mozzarella is cold it does not have the same flavor, it is masked by the cold temperature. When you serve any fresh mozzarella or burrata you should place it in a pot of warm water or in the microwave for 30 seconds to take the chill away. You will see how much creamier and tasty the mozzarella is.
Making Short Rib Ragu:
A good ragu should have layers of flavor that can only be accomplished with a slow cooking process. In this recipe I combine red wine, brown sugar, mustard, tomatoes and red chili flakes with other herbs, carrots, onions and beef broth. All the flavors marry together and create a wonderful spicy- sweet short rib ragu. The short ribs are seared in a touch of olive oil on the stove top before being added to the sauce and placed in the oven for two hours. The sauce is done when the short rib meat is falling off the bone and ready to be shredded. The sauce will not take more than 15 minutes to prepare before going into the oven and once in the oven there is nothing you have to do for the next two hours. Just let the sauce stew together and work its magic.
What should I do if the Sauce is dry after roasting?
After two hours take the short rib ragu out of the oven. Remove the short ribs from the sauce and shred the meat from the bone. You should try to cut the fat off and discard it with the bones. Return the shredded meat to the sauce. If the sauce seems too dry add additional beef broth to the short rib ragu. One cup of beef broth should be sufficient. This is a ragu so it is a thicker meat sauce that should cling to the pasta.
This sauce can be made up to two days in advance and reheated when ready to serve. Add more beef broth if you need more liquid.
Beef Wellington is an absolutely beautiful dish to serve at a special dinner. It does require a little time but the results are well worth the effort. This dish always reminds me of a time long ago when people hosted formal grand dinner parties in their home. I feel that this dish always makes the dinner feel more elegant. There are many theories regarding the origin of Beef Wellington. One theory is that it is named after the Duke of Wellington (1769-1852) who won the battle of Waterloo. According to foods of England there is no mention of Beef Wellington in any English cookbook until about 1970. It is therefore presumed to have French origin and then renamed. No matter the origin, we do know that it dates back to a long time ago when classic technique cooking was popular.
Beef Wellington is definitely a decadent dish. The original recipe calls for Duxelles, Foie Gras and Puff Pastry. In the recipe I was handed down by my mother the Foie Gras has been removed and sliced prosciutto has been added to help seal in the juices and prevent the puff pastry from getting soggy. The use of prosciutto is seen in many modern Beef Wellington recipes. The Duxelles is a combination of mushrooms, I like to use button, portobello and shiitake, that have been chopped and cooked down in butter with shallots and thyme. You can also add a little truffle or Chanterelle to the mix. I also add in a little fresh bread crumbs because I like the texture that it gives to the duxelles. The result is a mushroom paste that is spread over the prosciutto and then wrapped around the tenderloin.
Duxelles with fresh thyme and breadcrumbs. Choose any assorted mushrooms you like and cook down with butter and shallots before adding the thyme and breadcrumbs
You can use a 2 1/2 pound center-cut tenderloin ( will serve 6) that has been tied to retain the shape or you can use 6-8 oz portions if you would like to make individual Beef Wellington. You must sear the meat to seal in the juices before wrapping it in the duxelles, prosciutto and puff pastry. After you sear the meat, remove the string before wrapping. There’s nothing worse then getting a piece of string caught in your mouth. I have deviated from my mother’s recipe slightly after reading that Chef Gordon Ramsey rubs Dijon mustard on the meat before wrapping it. So clever, I just love that guy! After trying this I decided I really liked the flavor and spice that the Dijon mustard gave the dish. Always make sure you wrap the tenderloin securely with the puff pastry and seal the ends well. Do not leave too much dough on the end, you don’t want clumpy ends of dough. After you have wrapped the Filet in puff pastry use a cookie cutter to cut out shapes to create a beautiful design on top. This can be as easy as rolling a thin piece of pastry and creating a vine with leaves or cutting out birds like I did here for Christmas. Use your imagination, it’s your creation. Brush with egg wash before placing in oven to create a beautiful sheen on the pastry when finished. Serve the Wellington with Brandy Shallot Sauce.
How Do You Know How Long To Cook The Meat?
It will take about 35-40 minutes for a 2 1/2 pound tenderloin to reach medium rare (130-135 degrees). I recommend cooking the Wellington at 400 for 40 minutes. You can stick a meat thermometer in the center to check temperature. The ends of the meat will be more well done then the center pieces so you will have a variety of meat temperatures for your guests. Let the Beef Wellington rest for 10 minutes before slicing it. Since it will be so beautiful to look at you should place it on a platter and display it at the table while your guests are sitting down.
Can I Make The Beef Wellington Ahead of Time?
Yes, you can prepare the Beef Wellington according to the recipe up to the step before you wrap it in puff pastry. This can be done up to 12 hours before you are going to cook the Wellington. Wrap the tenderloin in plastic wrap and refrigerate.
I think that meatloaf is a very underrated dish. People think “boring”, I think delicious. The funny thing is that we served meatloaf on the menu at Grazie and it was extremely popular. Ours was an Italian version of the typical American dish. We topped the meatloaf with a hearty tomato and mushroom sauce and guests loved it. I think that it may be because it reminds people of home. Meatloaf is a comfort food and since Grazie was a neighborhood restaurant people weren’t looking for fancy, they wanted delicious home cooking. There are many different adaptations of meatloaf. Recipes vary the meat used and some don’t use meat at all. I like to use a combination of veal, pork and beef for my meatloaf. This is the classic blend of meat to use in meatloaf recipes. It is also essential to use fresh breadcrumbs, not packaged. I am the first person to try and make a recipe easy but it really makes a difference to make your own fresh breadcrumbs out of white or french bread. I like to buy a loaf of bread, leave it out for a day or two and then make a big batch of crumbs and freeze them in a ziplock bag. You can defrost them as needed.
It is also important to mix all the ingredients well before making a loaf shape to bake in the oven. The liquids need to mix with the breadcrumbs and meat in order to result in a meatloaf that has the right texture and consistency. So take your time mixing with a fork. When forming the loaf shape do not handle the meat too long. You want to gently form the shape and then leave it alone. If you handle meat for meatloaf or meatballs too long it becomes too dense and it will end up being tough. Always let your meatloaf rest for 10 minutes after you take it out of the oven to prevent it from falling apart when you slice.