I know it’s spring, but it’s still cold outside and we’re still craving comfort food. This homemade pappardelle with Marsala fig braised short ribs fits the bill on any rainy Vancouver day.

We enjoyed the most amazing braised pork cheek pappardelle dish at Charlie’s Little Italian Restaurant on Main Street. I love recreating restaurant dishes at home. The first hiccup in recreating this one was that I couldn’t find pork cheeks at my local grocer so I bought beef short ribs instead. They worked just as well. Charlie’s braises the meat in Marsala and figs. The flavours are incredible. Here’s my version of their dish.


1 tbsp brown sugar

1 tbsp smoked paprika

2 tsp cumin

1 tsp poultry seasoning

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp turmeric

1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

A pinch of cayenne

1/2 kg beef short ribs

3 tbsp olive oil

2 carrots

3 shallots

3 cloves of garlic

1 bay leaf

1/2 cup Marsala

2 cups beef stock

6 dried figs

Coat the ribs in the dry rub. If you’re not a fan of some of the spices in this recipe, just leave them out. The braised beef will still taste amazing.

Add two to three tablespoons of olive oil to your pan. Turn your burner to medium/high heat. Brown the ribs on all sides, remove and set aside.

Cut the carrots, shallots and garlic into large chunks so that they can be easily removed later. Add the vegetables to the same pan and stir. Turn the burner off. Add the Marsala to the pan. Use a wooden spoon to scrape off the crispy bits from the bottom of your pan. Turn the burner back on and set to medium heat. Allow the Marsala to reduce by half. Then add the beef stock and the bay leaf. Bring to a simmer.

Add the meat back to the pan. If your pan is ovenproof, put a lid on it and put it in the oven. If your pan isn’t ovenproof, transfer everything to an ovenproof pan and cover with a lid or aluminium foil. Cook at 300 degrees for 2 hours. After two hours, remove the pan from the oven and add the figs. You can leave the figs whole or cut them in half. Cook for another 30 minutes or until the meat starts to fall off the bone.

You don’t have to use homemade pasta for this recipe, but it’s kind of fun to make fresh pasta once in a while if you have the time.

If you want to make enough fresh pasta for two, use one large free-range egg and 100 grams of flour, approximately 2/3 to 3/4 cup. I also add a pinch of salt and a teaspoon of olive oil to the egg. If you’re cooking for four, double the quantities, and so on.

Have a look at Jamie Oliver’s video if you want to see how it’s done. It’s really easy. You don’t have to use a pasta machine to roll out the dough. You can just use a rolling pin and cut the pasta by hand. 

Once the pasta is cooked, serve it up with some of the braising liquid, figs and chunks of braised meat. Top with some Parmesan cheese and arugula.

Serves 4