This dish is a great way to entertain, as most of the preparation can be done in advance, filling your home with a welcoming aroma of slowly simmering, savory ingredients. So open up a bottle of good red wine and enjoy.
- ½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 meaty short ribs (about 4 pounds total)
- 5 tablespoon olive oil, divided
- 1½ cup roughly chopped onion
- 1 cup roughly chopped carrot
- 1 cup roughly chopped celery
- 4 clove garlic peeled and minced, divided
- 2 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 (750ml) bottle cabernet sauvignon
- 1 bay leaf
- 6 fresh parsley sprigs
- 4 fresh thyme sprigs
- 2 pieces of orange peel (each about 2 inches long by ½ inch wide)
- 1 cup chicken stock, or more if needed
- 1 pound dried orecchiette pasta
- 1 cup finely chopped onion
- 1 bunch swiss chard ribs removed, cut into ¼ inch slices, well-rinsed and drained — about 6 loosely packed cups
- ½ cup freshly grated parmesan reggiano cheese (plus more for topping)
For the short ribs: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Trim the thick layers of external fat from the short ribs. Don’t overdo it; small amounts of fat will create flavor and most of the fat will be removed when the recipe is de-greased toward the end. Season all sides of the short ribs with the salt and pepper.
In a heavy pot such as a 5‑quart stock pot or Dutch oven that has a tight-fitting lid, warm the 2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat. Add 3 of the short ribs, sear on all sides until brown, 4 to 5 minutes per side. If there is a lot of exposed meat on the end, use tongs to stand ribs up to sear ends for about 2 minutes per end. Remove the short ribs from the pot and place on a plate or shallow dish. Repeat with the remaining short ribs (you may need less time to brown sides, as oil will be really hot by now). Reserve until needed.
For the sauce: Pour off all but 2 tablespoons of the fat from the pan. Reduce the heat to medium and add the roughly chopped onion, carrot and celery to the pan, scraping up any browned pieces of meat from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Saute, stirring often, until vegetables are a bit browned, about 8 minutes. Add half the garlic, and stirring constantly, saute until just fragrant, about 1 minute longer. Add tomato paste and, stirring continuously, saute until the tomato paste just begins to caramelize, 1 to 2 minutes longer.
Raise the heat to high and deglaze the pan with the wine, scraping up any browned juices from the bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon. Reduce heat to medium-high and reduce the wine by half at a high simmer, 12 to 15 minutes.
Add the bay leaf, parsley, thyme, and orange peel. Add the short ribs back to the pot. Add enough chicken stock to bring liquid halfway up the ribs. Bring the stock to a boil, place a piece of parchment paper on top of the pot, cover tightly and place in the oven. Cook for 2 to 2½ hours, or until the meat is falling off the bone.
Remove the short ribs from pot and place on a platter. When cool enough to handle, shred meat from bones into bite-sized pieces, discarding any visible fat or gristle. Reserve warm until needed.
Strain the Cabernet sauce through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing the back of a large spoon over the solids to extract the maximum amount of sauce. Degrease the sauce either by using a gravy separator; tilting the pan to one side and skimming the fat off with a large spoon; or making the dish up to this point the day before, refrigerating it and spooning off the layer of fat that congeals on the surface. Place the degreased sauce in a large skillet over medium-high heat and reduce sauce consistency (thick enough to coat the back of a spoon), 4 to 5 minutes if the sauce is warm. Reserve the sauce warm on low heat.
For the orecchiette and chard: Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the orecchiette and cook according to package directions until al dente, about 12 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large soup or stockpot, warm the remaining olive oil for 1 minute over medium heat. Add the remaining garlic and finely chopped onion and saute, stirring frequently, until very lightly colored 6 to 8 minutes. Add the chard, toss well to coat with the olive oil and saute, stirring frequently, until softened, about 6 minutes. This will seem like a lot of chard when you first put it in the pot, but it will wilt down considerably. Ladle a cup of the pasta cooking water over the chard and continue to saute, stirring frequently, until most of the liquid is evaporated, about 4 minutes.
Drain the pasta and add to the chard mixture. Pour half of the Cabernet sauce over the pasta and chard and toss to coat the pasta with the sauce. Add the cheese to pasta and stir well to combine. Place the pasta on a serving platter or divide into large pasta bowls. Place the shredded meat in the remaining Cabernet sauce and warm through over medium heat. Spoon the meat and sauce over pasta. Serve immediately with additional grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.