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Finished sauce in pot.

Sunday Gravy

Beef short ribs cooked low and slow in tomato sauce until fork tender and then tossed with pasta. A comforting and meaty pasta sauce for Sunday supper.
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword homemade pasta sauce, red gravy, sunday gravy
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 30 minutes
Servings 12 servings
Calories 795kcal
Author Kelly Wildenhaus | the hungry bluebird


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 - 4 pounds boneless beef short ribs
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Small piece of parmesan rind, about an inch
  • Two 28-oz. cans of Italian San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • 1 whole medium carrot, peeled
  • 2 pounds spaghetti (or pasta of choice)


  • Preheat oven to 300º
  • In a large enameled cast-iron dutch oven, heat olive oil over moderate heat until shimmering. Season the short ribs with salt and pepper. Add to the pot in one layer and brown well on both sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer short ribs to a plate.
  • Reserve 1 tablespoon of fat in pot. Add onions and a generous pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until nicely browned, about 5-6 minutes. Add the tomato paste, garlic, oregano, basil, and crushed red pepper, stir until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes and their juices, the carrot and parmesan rind. Season with salt. Bring to a simmer.
  • Return the short ribs and their accumulated juices to the pot. Turn a few times and nestle into the sauce. Bring back to simmer, cover and transfer to oven.
  • Braise in the oven for 3 hours until meat is very tender. Remove from oven. Skim fat from top, leaving some, again, for flavor.
  • Transfer meat to cutting board. Discard carrot and parmesan rind. With two forks, shred meat into 1-inch chunks. Return meat to sauce and season with salt and pepper.
  • In large stock pot of boiling, salted water, cook spaghetti until al dente. Drain, reserving 1 cup of cooking water. Transfer pasta to pot of gravy and toss and simmer for 1-2 minutes. Add some pasta water if it seems too thick. Serve immediately in large bowl with grated parmesan cheese.


  • Normally I would opt for bone-in short ribs, for the incredible flavor you get from any meat on the bone. But I find boneless short ribs a better choice. They are just as flavorful and less fatty than the bone-in and easier to shred. Even though the bone-in practically fall off the bone when done, they tend to have more grizzle and fat. Get what you can find, or what's on sale.
  • Take the time to brown the meat in batches, don't crowd the pan. Properly browned meat yields flavor folks, nicely caramelized and brown, not gray.
  • I prefer Italian San Marzano tomatoes which are are meaty and tender. Buy them whole and crush them by hand.
  • I like spaghetti, fettuccine or pappardelle. Rigatoni and penne would also make an excellent choice with this hearty sauce.  
  • Serve with some grated parmigiana reggiano or romano cheese on top.
  • If you want, put about a cup of red wine in the pot just before you add the tomatoes. Let it reduce just a minute or two to mellow the alcohol.


Calories: 795kcal | Carbohydrates: 65g | Protein: 62g | Fat: 31g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Cholesterol: 156mg | Sodium: 393mg | Potassium: 1441mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 1073IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 91mg | Iron: 8mg