Serves: Makes 4 to 6 servings
- 31⁄2 to 4 pounds meaty bone-in short ribs
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup diced yellow onion
- 1⁄2 cup diced celery
- 1⁄2 cup diced carrot
- 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
- 2 cups full-bodied red wine
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 (28-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes with juices
- If you want to keep the short ribs together, tie each one tightly across the bone with cooking string. Combine 1 tablespoon salt and 1⁄2 teaspoon black pepper. Rub over all the surfaces of the short ribs.
- Heat a large nonreactive Dutch oven or saucepan over medium heat. Add the olive oil. When hot, add the ribs, being careful not to crowd them or they won't brown properly. (If the ribs don't all fit in the Dutch oven, brown them in two batches, or use a heavy skillet to brown any remaining ribs at the same time.) Cook, adjusting the heat between medium and mediumhigh to maintain a steady sizzle without getting the pan too hot, turning with tongs as needed, for about 3 minutes per side, or until browned. As the ribs are browned, transfer them to a large bowl.
- When all the ribs are browned, spoon off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the pot. Add the onion, celery, and carrot, and cook over medium-low heat, stirring, for about 8 minutes, or until golden. Meanwhile, crush the garlic and fennel seeds together with a large knife. Add to the vegetables and cook for about 30 seconds, or until tender.
- If necessary, rearrange the oven racks to accommodate the large size of the pan. Preheat the oven to 325°F.
- Add the wine and bay leaves to the Dutch oven and bring to a boil. Boil for 5 minutes, or until reduced by half. Stir in the tomatoes and again bring to a boil, breaking up the tomatoes with the side of a large metal spoon. Add the browned ribs and any juices that accumulated in the bowl. Turn the ribs to coat them evenly.
- Cover and cook for 2 to 21⁄2 hours, until the meat is pulling away from the bones.
- Use a slotted spoon to lift the ribs from the pot to a platter. Discard any loose bones. Snip off the strings and discard.
- Pour the remaining contents through a strainer set over a large bowl. Discard the bay leaves and then spoon the strained vegetables onto the ribs. Cover the platter with aluminum foil and keep warm in the turned-off oven.
- Spoon off and discard the fat that comes to the top of the bowl and then pour the juices into a small saucepan. Alternatively, chill the strained juices for several hours or overnight and lift off the fat that solidifies on top. Refrigerate the ribs and vegetables, tightly covered, and then return to the saucepan with the defatted juices and slowly reheat over low heat.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Pour the juices over the short ribs and serve hot.