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Dinner in Testosterone Land: Braised Short Ribs + 2016 Nuova Cappelletta Barbera del Monferrato #ItalianFWT

Welcome to March's edition with the Italian Food Wine Travel bloggers group. Can you believe it's March already?!? I can't.

This month, Gwendolyn of Wine Predator is hosting us as we explore the biodynamic wines of Italy. She has raised this question in all of the wine groups to which she belongs this year. We explored French biodynamic wines in January when I posted Learning About Biodynamic Wines. And Gwen has us tasting and pairing biodynamic wines from anywhere in the world for April's Wine Pairing Weekend. I can't wait to share my pairing with a biodynamic wine from Mendocino! You can read her invitation to the #ItalianFWT bloggers here.

Before I get to my dinner in Testosterone Land, here's what the #ItalianFWT bloggers shared...

Dinner in Testosterone Land

I joke that I am a permanent resident of Testosterone Land. I guess I'm not really joking. There are a lot of males in my life. And, surprisingly, almost all of my close friends also only have boys. So, when a friend was out of town for the weekend, I texted her husband and asked if he and his boys wanted to come over for dinner. He responded: "Yes, we are available. J- says no squid. LOL. He knows you." I was thinking salmon or short ribs. I have to see what's available.

Flash forward a few hours. I was standing at the meat counter in Whole Foods when my phone beeped. "If you have a choice, my spoiled son votes short ribs!" At the counter getting them right now. He has good taste.

Wine first though...
In My Glass

As with the French biodynamic event, several of us were chatting back and forth about where to source biodynamic wines. And, more, about how there were many vintners who were making wine with biodynamic methods but who weren't bothering to get the certifications.

This one - 2016 Nuova Cappelletta Barbera del Monferrato - doesn't have the Demeter certification, but states on the label: "made exclusively with grapes grown in our vineyards with the biodynamic method in harmony with nature and tradition." That works for me!

A little more digging revealed that the winery director and grandson of founder Giuseppe Fracchia, Alessandro Uslenghi, continues to use the biodynamic practices that have been in place there since 1984. The grape vines share a home with cattle, birds, insects, and other wildlife in addition to corn and other crops. Their land, of over 500 acres, is also a designated nature preserve.

In the glass, this Barbera is a deep red, almost purple color with warm aromas of vanilla and cinnamon.  On the palate, it's buoyant yet concentrated. What a great sip! And it paired beautifully with my braised short ribs.

On My Plate

Ingredients serves 7
Braised Ribs
  • 2 to 2-1/2 pounds beef short ribs (prefer grass-fed, organic beef)
  • freshly ground salt
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 organic onion, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 to 4 cloves garlic, peeled and pressed
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 T butter
  • 1 C tomato sauce
  • 1 C beef stock
  • 1/2 C red wine
  • 1 jar marinated artichoke hearts

For Serving
  • pasta
  • 1/2 C grated parmesan cheese

Preheat an oven to 350ºF. Season short ribs liberally with salt and pepper. Set aside. In a Dutch oven, melt 1 T butter in 2 T olive oil. Add the onions and garlic.
Add the short ribs to the pan. Sear for 2 to 3 minutes per side. Pour in the tomato sauce, stock, and red wine. Bring liquid to a boil. Top with artichoke hearts.

Place it in the oven to braise for 2-1/2 to 3 hours. The meat should be tender and almost falling off the bone.

To Serve
Cook pasta according to package. Remove ribs carefully from the sauce. Stir drained pasta into the sauce until completely coated. Add in cheese and stir to incorporate.

Scoop pasta into individual serving bowls and top with short rib. I also served Roasted Brussels Sprouts and a green salad.

And, for dessert, I put out a fun, sprinkle-topped cake! I needed something a little girly on the table.

We argued over whether or not the cake looked Easter-y. Apparently, not only was I the only girl at the table, I was the only one who thought the cake looked like Springtime and Easter. What do you think?


  1. sounds like a tasty meal! I see I'm not the only one who made short ribs for this one!

  2. Wonderful pairing, beautiful dessert. Wish I lived closer - I'd be at your doorstep on the regular!

  3. Clearly Nuova Cappelletta know what they are doing when it comes to biodynamics. I think this month especially has been a good one for learning. I love short ribs, but Julie has a hard time with the fat, so sometimes I go 1/2 and 1/2. I get short ribs and she gets stew meat. Both are slow braised, so it works ok. I still think I get the best deal!

  4. Looks like a beautiful meal and a great wine. Cheers!

  5. Love short ribs. And roasted brussels sprouts!! LOL.

  6. Not always the easiest to discover biodynamic wines of Italy, but biodynamic methods in my opinion are just as good. Every time I see a short rib recipe I always say its been too long since I've made them ; ) Looks great!

  7. Can’t beat short ribs! And the cake looks fab to me!


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