Beef Short Rib or Lamb Pasta Sauce
(Finny’s “Hold the Spices” Pasta Sauce)
In my novel, Finny, there’s a dinner scene where the main character, Finny, and her mother serve a lamb stew to a man they suspect of some wrongdoing. The stew, which they hope everyone at the dinner will enjoy, is part of the plan to figure out if he’s committed the crime they suspect him of.
I’ve modified the stew in my novel to create a pasta sauce that I’ve used a number of times for guests — whether or not I suspect them of any crimes. The great thing about this recipe
is that you can do everything in advance, in one pot, and the sauce will be simmering away and ready to serve whenever your guests arrive.
Finny’s “Hold the Spices” Pasta Sauce
Prep time: 3 hours
Note: The recipe serves 3-4 people, but can be doubled with no adjustments in cooking time.
1/4 cup olive oil
3/4 pound boneless beef short ribs or
lamb stew meat
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
2-3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons salt, divided
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon light brown sugar, packed
1 pound pasta, for serving
Chopped fresh basil, for sprinkling
- Pour the olive oil into a heavy-bottomed saucepan and set heat to medium. Dust the meat liberally with pepper, flour, and 1 teaspoon of the salt. When the oil is hot, put the meat in the pan and cook until brown on all sides, turning occasionally, approximately 5-10 minutes.
- Remove the browned meat from the pot with tongs and place on a plate. Add the onions to the pot and reduce heat to medium-low. Sauté for 10 minutes, or until translucent and beginning to brown. Add remaining teaspoon of salt and stir.
- Increase heat to high, and pour in the balsamic vinegar. This will “deglaze” the pan. Stir the onions with a spoon, scraping the bottom of the pan as you stir.
- Once the vinegar reduces by half, add the diced tomatoes and stir. When the sauce begins to simmer, return the cooked meat to the pot, stir again, turn the burner to a very low heat, and cover.
- Cook for one hour, stirring every 20 minutes or so. Add the brown sugar and cover again. Cook for approximately 2 1/2 hours on very low heat, or until the meat falls apart when cut with a fork. You can also remove meat, gently cut into small pieces and return to pan. Before serving, stir the sauce, pressing the meat against the sides of the pot to break it apart into the sauce. Taste and re-season with salt and pepper once the sauce is done.
- Serve over pasta, with a sprinkling of chopped fresh basil for color.
Yield: 3-4 servings