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Farfalle with Braised Beef & Vodka Sauce

This one is a real project, but so worth it. Dinner Party approved and you can make all of it ahead of time.

Just say 'Vodka Sauce' and I am hooked. Here we take my favorite pasta shape (Farfalle) and cover it with tender succulent braised beef and the best ever luscious, velvety Vodka Sauce.

There are hundreds of different versions of Vodka Sauce out there.. from 'quick and easy' to classic. I hope you will find this to be your favorite version and that it will stay in your recipe file as the only Vodka Sauce you will ever make again! One of the keys to the sauce, in my opinion, is the slight kick of spice from red chili flakes. Of course, depending on your audience. For adults, add a little extra, for little ones, scale back a bit.. and always serve it with extra chili flakes on the side.

And then there is the braised beef... a riff on my favorite braised beef short rib recipe... so full of flavor and all of the wine and herbs and spices compliment the farfalle and sauce so well.

This is an excellent make ahead meal. There are a few steps, and yes, it is a bit laborious but so worth it... it is a Dinner Party winner that will absolutely impress.

Here is how to make it:


For the Braised Beef

  • 2 lbs chuck roast or chuck stew meat cut into 1" cubes

  • 1 shallot, rough chopped

  • 2 carrots, peeled and rough chopped

  • 4 stocks of celery, rough chopped

  • 3 tbsp tomato paste

  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme

  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary

  • 4 cups red wine

  • 2 cups beef broth (Better than Bouillon beef works ell here too)

  • 1/2 of a small yellow onion, rough chopped

  • olive oil, salt & pepper

For the Vodka Sauce

  • ¼ cup olive oil

  • 2½ cups chopped yellow onions

  • 1 1/2 tablespoon minced garlic

  • 2½ teaspoons dried oregano

  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes

  • 1 cup vodka

  • 2 (28-ounce) cans whole peeled plum tomatoes

  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano leaves, plus extra for serving

  • 1 cup heavy cream

For Serving

  • 1 lb Farfalle pasta, boiled according to package instructions for 'al dente'

  • Freshly shredded Parmesan & Romano cheeses

  • Dried red chili flakes


First, make the beef.Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or other heavy pot over medium-high. Pat the beef dry... wet beef will not brown. Season the beef all over with salt & pepper. Working in 2 batches, cook beef until well browned on all sides, 5–8 minutes per batch. Set aside.

Add a tbsp of olive oil to the pot. Add: shallot, carrots & celery and sauté 3-4 minutes on medium heat.

Add tomato paste and stir to incorporate. Cooking the tomato paste a bit sweetens the flavor naturally and removes any bitterness.

Add wine and reduce by 1/3

Add beef broth, rosemary & thyme and bring to a boil.

Add back the beef and any accumulated juices. Put a lid on the dutch oven and place in the oven. Bake at 325 for 2 hours. After 2 hours check and stir. The beef should be very very tender and easily cut with a fork. Cooking times vary by oven and by cut of beef. If the beef is not fork tender, set a timer for 30 min and keep cooking.

When the beef is done, remove from the oven and let cool in the juices. When cool, drain and discard veggies. After draining add just a little of the sauce back to the beef. Save the broth... it is an amazing soup starter and will stay in the freezer for months!

While the beef is cooking, make the Vodka Sauce.

Heat the oil in a medium Dutch oven, over medium-low heat. Add the onions and cook for about 5 minutes, until the onions are translucent.

Add the garlic, oregano, and red pepper flakes and cook for just one minute.

Add the vodka and simmer for 5 minutes, until the mixture is reduced by half.

Add the canned tomatoes.

Add 2 teaspoons of salt and ½ teaspoon of black pepper. Cover the pot with a tight-fitting lid and bake for 1½ hours.

When sauce is finished baking remove from the oven and let cool slightly, then add heavy cream.

In batches, blend the sauce until smooth (careful, it is hot!). Wash the dutch oven, then return the sauce to the pot. Now it is ready to heat when it is time to assemble.

Time to assemble!!

Boil the pasta until al dente and drain. Heat the sauce on low while also heating the beef on low.

Place cooked farfalle in bowls, add beef on tip then top with the vodka sauce, shredded parmesan and red chili flakes to taste.

Bon Appetit, Enjoy, Provecho!

PS... if you are in the NY Tri-State area you can order this dish from so you can enjoy it without all the work!

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