Growing up, my family never had an annual Christmas tradition. The constant for us at Christmas time was knowing I would see my cousins and grandparents and we would all be together. Every year brought a different meal and our get-togethers were at different times, but being together was all that mattered.
I am glad my family never had rituals tied to Christmas time because it seems like traditions, although fun and valuable, can sometimes add unnecessary pressure. Now that I am an adult, with one exception, I follow the same non-tradition holiday tradition: Christmas pasta. Christmas Pasta is a recipe I discovered in an issue of Rachael Ray Magazine and it is an absolute must-have during the holiday season. In true form, my tradition is not about having the meal on Christmas day, or any certain day or time, but just making sure my husband and I enjoy this scrumptious meal at some point between Thanksgiving and New Year.
I recommend you do yourself a favor and make this dish sometime in the next two weeks. There are a lot of ingredients and it will take two days to make, but it is so worth it. It might just become a Christmas tradition for you too. Here is my take on the recipe.
- 6 Tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (I drizzle in a circle around the pan three times)
- 4 slices of center-cut bacon (I use Oscar Mayer)
- 8 bone-in beef short ribs
- 3 carrots, chopped
- 3 celery ribs, chopped
- 2 medium sized onions chopped
- 8 cloves of garlic, minced
- 6 sprigs of rosemary, chopped
- 10 sprigs of thyme, chopped
- 4 sage leaves chopped OR large teaspoon of dried sage (I can’t always find sage)
- Pinch of ground cloves
- 3 tablespoons of tomato paste
- ½ a bottle of red wine (use wine you would enjoy drinking - don’t cheap out; drink the other half while cooking)
- 2 cans of beef consomme
- Two 28 oz. cans of crushed tomatoes
- 4 hot Italian sausage links
- 1 Parmesan cheese rind
- 1 cup of Parmesan cheese plus more for sprinkling on top
- 2 pound of dried pasta of choice (I would NOT use spaghetti for this - shorter pasta like rigatoni or penne works better. Casarecce is my favorite).
1. Grab a large, deep pan. Add olive oil. Chop bacon slices into bits and add it to the olive oil. Cook the bacon until it is crisp. Remove bacon and set it on a plate.
2. Brown the beef short ribs in the same pan using the drippings from the bacon. You will need to brown your beef short ribs in batches of two to three ribs to avoid over crowding.
3. Once all your ribs are browned, set them aside on a plate. In the same pan you crisped your bacon and browned your ribs, add your chopped carrots, celery ribs, onions garlic, rosemary, thyme, sage leaves and pinch of ground cloves. Let that cook down for about 10-minutes on medium low heat.
4. Add tomato paste and stir it around a bit. Then add the wine. This unleashes the little brown bits stuck to the pan. I want to remind you to use wine you would drink when cooking. The wine is cooking down and the flavor is concentrating.
5. Add two cans of tomatoes and two cans of beef consomme. Bring the sauce up to a simmer. Once simmering, put the beef ribs (bones and all) and the bacon back in the sauce. Throw in a Parmesan rind (if you have one). Place in an oven set to 325 degrees and let the sauce and ribs roast for 2½ hours.
6. Once the sauce has cooked, let it cool on your oven (this usually take about an hour), then place the sauce in the refrigerator overnight.
7. When you take the sauce out of the refrigerator, the fat will have risen to the top. Discard fat. Using your (very clean) hands or two forks, fish out the bones of the ribs. They will be extremely easy to remove. Leave all the meat.
8. Place sauce on the stove-top and slowly reheat. While this is going on, brown and crumble the four sausage links in a separate skillet. Once the sausage cooks through, add it to the sauce. I like to use Johnsonville hot. Feel free to use sweet or mild.
9. Add one cup of grated Parmesan cheese. Let the sauce simmer on low heat until heated through or up to an hour.
10. Boil pasta according to package instructions. Once pasta is cooked, toss with sauce and top with extra Parmesan and basil.
Enjoy the best pasta you’ve ever had. Merry Christmas! Kippo will be back with more journals that help you navigate a healthy, happy life in 2017. Until then, have a wonderful holiday season.