Smoked Beef Short Rib Ragù

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A rich smoked beef sauce. To make this ragú, we take a rack of beef short ribs, smoke them then braise in red wine until super tender.

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smoked beef short rib ragu

A ragú is one of my favourite pasta sauces! In this recipe, we’re taking it too another level by smoking the beef then braising it until it fall apart. Serve this with some homemade rigatoni & your onto a winner!

The Ragú

To make this rich & meaty sauce, we first need to smoke the beef short ribs in a barbecue. We cook the beef until it has taken on plenty of colour & smokiness. It’s important not to rush this process, it will take several hours!

Once smoked, we braise the smoked beef in plenty of red wine, stock, veg & fresh herbs. We cook it this way at a really low temperature until the beef is super tender & is falling off the bones.

How To Smoke

To slow cook the beef on a smoker or barbecue, we need to cook it indirectly at a really low temperature. To do this you can either use a charcoal smoker (like a Weber smoky mountain), or if you’ve got a kettle bbq, place the lit charcoal under half of the grill & place the meat the other side.

When it comes to smoking beef, I like to use oak as my smoking wood. Keep in mind that a small amount goes a long way so only add a chunk or two to the charcoal.

The charcoal I’d recommend using briquettes as they tend to hold there heat for longer.

The Pasta

Feel free to use any type of pasta for this dish. I’ve used rigatoni because it does a great job of holding rich, meaty sauces. If you want to make your own, my recipe can be found here – How To Make Rigatoni

Equipment Used

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Smoked Beef Short Rib Ragu

Rich & meaty. To make this ragú, we take a rack of beef short ribs, smoke them then braise in red wine until super tender.
Prep Time1 hour
Cook Time10 hours
Total Time11 hours
Course: Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Servings: 6 People
Author: Ben Racey


  • Barbecue Or Smoker
  • Spray Bottle
  • Roasting Tin
  • Digital Food Probe
  • Charcoal Lumpwood Or Briquettes
  • A Small Chunk Of Wood Oak Is Best!


  • 1 kg Rack Of Beef Short Ribs
  • 1 tbsp French's Mustard
  • 75 ml Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 75 ml Water

The Rub

  • 1 tbsp Maldon Salt
  • 1 tbsp Demerara Sugar
  • ½ tbsp Coarse Ground Black Pepper
  • ½ tsp Ground Cinnamon
  • ½ tsp Ground Ginger
  • ½ tsp Smoked Paprika
  • ½ tsp Onion Granules
  • ½ tsp Garlic Granules

To Braise

  • 2 Large White Onions
  • 3 Carrots
  • 3 Sticks Celery
  • 4 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 tbps Tomato Paste
  • 350 ml Red Wine
  • 750 ml Beef Stock
  • 400g Tinned, Plum Tomatoes
  • 2 Bay Leaves Fresh Or Dried
  • 6 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
  • 6 Sprigs Fresh Rosemary
  • 1 Parmesan Rind Around 75g

To Serve

  • 1 Batch Rigatoni
  • 25 g Butter
  • 2 tbsp Fresh Parsley Finely Chopped
  • Olive Oil
  • Parmesan


  • Start by combining all the rub ingredients together.
    Next, trim any silver skin from the top of the beef ribs, leaving a thick & even layer of fat.
    Brush the ribs all over with the French’s mustard then coat with the rub. Leave at room temperature whilst you light your barbecue.
  • Light a barbecue or smoker using charcoal (lumpwood or briquettes), set up for indirect cooking then preheat to 275°f/120°c.
  • Once preheated, throw a chunk of oak into the charcoal then place the ribs into the smoker, fat side up.
  • Leave the ribs to smoke undisturbed for 3 hours.
    In the meantime, combine the apple cider vinegar & water together then place into a spray bottle.
  • After 3 hours have passed, spray the ribs with the vinegar mix every 45 minutes until a good bark has formed & the internal temperature is 160°f/71°c. The whole smoking process will take between 4-5 hours in total.
  • Half an hour before the ribs have finished smoking, it’s time to make the braising liquid. An oven should also be preheated to 160°c/140°c fan at this point.
  • Tie all the herbs together using butcher’s string & set aside.
  • First, cut the onions, carrots & celery into a large dice. Pour a tablespoon of veg oil into a large saucepan & place over a low heat. Add in the veg & cook gently until soft & golden brown, roughly 20 minutes .Grate the garlic & add into the saucepan. Cook for a further 3-4 minutes.
  • Next, stir in the tomato paste, turn the heat up to medium & cook out for a couple of minutes. Pour in the red wine & allow to reduce by half then add in the tin of tomatoes & beef stock. Use a wooden spoon to stir together & to break the tomatoes down slightly. Bring to a simmer then add in the herbs, parmesan rind & smoked beef ribs.
    If the ribs aren’t completely covered in liquid, top it up with water.
    Season generously with salt & pepper then cover the top of the saucepan with baking parchment followed by foil.
  • Place into the preheated oven & cook until tender & falling off the bone, roughly 4-5 hours but check after 2-3.
  • Once cooked, remove the beef ribs from the sauce, leave to cool slightly then pull. Discard the herbs, whatever parmesan rind that hasn’t melted & any bones from the braising liquid then place over a high heat & reduce by half.
    Next, blitz the sauce in a jug blender until smooth then mix through the meat. Taste to check the seasoning then leave to cool & refrigerate overnight.
  • To Serve.
    Bring a large of pan of water to a rolling boil & add a large pinch of salt.Add in the rigatoni, stir then cook until al dente, 12-14 minutes.
    In the meantime, heat the ragú up in a large frying pan over a medium-low heat.
  • Once the pasta has cooked, add into the ragu along with a ladle full of pasta water. Toss to combine, adding more pasta water if needed then stir in the butter & parsley.
    Season with salt & pepper then divide into pasta bowls.
    Drizzle some olive oil over each portion then top with a grating of parmesan.


Cooking In An Aga.
Braise the smoked short ribs in the baking oven, on the bottom set of runners.
You’ll need a barbecue or smoker for this recipe. I use a Weber smoky mountain but any barbecue can be used as long as you can cook indirectly on it.
Don’t worry about using an expensive red wine for the ragú. A Merlot or Pinot Noir works well.
I used some chunks of oak to smoke the ribs but you could also use other woods such as apple or cherry.
To get all the tomato out of the tin, swill a splash of water around the tin then add this with the tomatoes.

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