Adventures in Cooking: Fennel Braised Short Ribs

By Eva Kosmas Flores

Photo by Eva Kosmas Flores

Fennel is one of those vegetables that you grow to appreciate more and more the more frequently you have it. Raw, it has an intensely herbal, almost licorice flavor to it. When cooked, though this flavor mellows out significantly and is instead replaced by a sweet caramelized taste, much like caramelized onions. And when you cook fennel slowly with short ribs, that caramelized flavor combines with pork fat, and the cooking process tenderizes the meat on the ribs, creating a truly comforting and delicious winter supper.

Ingredients for Fennel Braised Short Ribs
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 ounces brown button mushrooms, thickly sliced
2 strips thick cut bacon, diced
12 ounces frozen pearl onions
2 lbs beef short ribs
1 large fennel bulb, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
2 cup vegetable broth
1 cup dry red wine
2 teaspoons sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
5 oz carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch thick slices
1/2 lb cherry tomatoes, cut in half
salt to taste


In a large dutch oven, melt the butter with the olive oil over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté until browned on both sides and slightly wrinkled. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the bacon to the pan and fry until crispy, then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the frozen pearl onions and sauté until golden, then remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Add the short ribs and sear on each side, then remove and set aside. Add the fennel bulb and sauté on each side until lightly golden. Add the short ribs, pearl onions, and bacon back to the pan and stir to incorporate. Add the vegetable broth, red wine, sherry vinegar, bay leaves, black pepper, thyme, nutmeg, carrots, and cherry tomatoes. Cover with the lid and place it in the oven. Allow to roast for 2 1/2 hours, or until the meat is cooked through and very tender. Remove from the oven and salt to taste, then serve.

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