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Oven-Braised Short Ribs with Fennel

Serves: Makes 4 to 6 servings


  • 3½ 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
  • ½ cup diced celery
  • ½ cup diced carrot
  • 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fennel seeds
  • 2 cups hearty red wine
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 (28-ounce) can Italian plum tomatoes with juices


Buttery tender short ribs make a great meal when having company. It’s best to cook short ribs, and other slowcooked rich meat dishes, one day ahead so the juices can chill and the excess fat, which will solidify on the surface, can be lifted off. The recipe serves six, but to add more servings, simply increase the number of short ribs and the size of the cooking vessel. Serve with Roasted Potatoes with Mushrooms and Red Bell Peppers (page 39), polenta, or mashed potatoes.

If you want to keep the short ribs together, tie each one tightly across the bone with cooking string or silicone ties. Combine 1 tablespoon of salt and ½ teaspoon of black pepper. Rub over all the surfaces of the short ribs.

Heat a large (7- to 8-quart) enameled cast-iron or other nonreactive Dutch oven 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 medium-high to maintain a steady sizzle without getting the pan too hot and 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 the 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 mortar and pestle or with a large chef’s knife. Add to the vegetables and cook for about 30 seconds, or until fragrant.

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 with the tomato mixture.

Cover and braise in the lower half of the oven for 2 to 2½ hours, until the meat is pulling away from the bones.

Use a slotted spoon or spatula and tongs to lift the ribs from the pan to a platter. Discard any loose bones. Snip off the strings and discard, or remove the silicone ties.

Pour the remaining contents of the Dutch oven 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.

Use a large metal spoon to spoon off and discard the fat that comes to the top of the bowl and then pour the juices into a small saucepan, or pour the juices into a fat separator and then pour the defatted juices into a small saucepan. Alternatively, chill the strained juices for several hours or overnight and lift off the fat that solidifies on top with a skimmer. Refrigerate the ribs and vegetables, tightly covered, and then return them to the Dutch oven with the defatted juices and slowly reheat over low heat.

Reheat the juices to a simmer, taste, and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper. Pour the juices over the short ribs and vegetables and serve hot.

by Sur La Table & Andrews McMeel Publishing, Things Cooks Love

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