Braised Short Ribs with Orange, Fennel and Olives

January 18, 2012
0 Ratings
  • Serves 8 to 10
Author Notes

One of my favorite ways to serve a crowd cheaply and grandly is making braised short ribs. I’ve tried countless recipes for short ribs over the years, but a stand-out is Paula Wolfert’s Beef Short Ribs Simmered in Red Wine with Fennel, Black Olives, and Anchovies in the Style of the Camargue. I adapted her recipe to highlight one of my favorite flavor combinations: orange, fennel and olives. I first seasoned the short ribs with salt, pepper, crushed fennel seed and coriander, thinking the citrusy notes of the coriander would work nicely here. Then, I incorporated citrus in the braising liquid, opting for a combination of orange juice, chicken stock, and small amounts of red wine vinegar and soy sauce. The addition of soy sauce is definitely unconventional given the other ingredients, but it's a great tip I picked up from Cooks Illustrated to marry and balance flavors-- and it works! I was quite pleased with the result, especially the richness and depth of flavor achieved without the use of any wine in the braising liquid. My favorite part of this recipe, though, is the finishing touch: you smash together anchovies, butter, and a little orange juice – then stir them into the sauce – for a bright kick of flavor and creaminess. Lemony couscous and a fresh fennel salad make lovely accompaniments.

What You'll Need
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 4 to 5 pounds bone-in beef short ribs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed
  • ¼ teaspoon coriander seeds, crushed
  • 3 oz pancetta or bacon, diced (optional)
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 6 garlic cloves, lightly smashed with the back of your knife
  • ½ cup tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice (+ 2 teaspoons reserved for later use) and 1 large strip of orange zest (from 1 large orange)
  • 2 cups meat stock (chicken, beef, or veal)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 anchovy fillets, rinsed, drained, and finely minced
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup pitted black olives
  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F.
  2. Blot the short ribs dry with paper towels (you want to start with dry meat so it will properly brown) and season the short ribs with kosher salt and pepper and the crushed fennel and coriander.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a 5 ½ quart (or larger) dutch oven or casserole over medium-high heat, and then add the short ribs in a single layer, being careful not to overcrowd the meat. (You may need to brown the meat in a few batches.) Brown the meat on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer the browned meat to a plate; set aside. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of fat from the dutch oven.
  4. Add the onion and pancetta or bacon (if using) and sauté over medium heat until the onion is translucent and the bacon is beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the carrot and sauté until they begin to brown, another 5 minutes.
  5. Add the red wine vinegar, and stir to deglaze any brown bits. Let reduce for about 1 minute, then add the soy sauce, garlic, tomato sauce, orange juice and meat stock. Bring to a boil, then add the bay leaf and strip of orange zest. Add the short ribs back to the dutch oven (bone-side up).
  6. Wet a sheet of parchment paper, crumple it, and cover the pot, pressing down so that the paper nearly touches the meat and the edges hang over the side. Cover the pot, and transfer it to the oven to braise until the meat is very tender, 3 to 3 ½ hours. Check after 30 minutes to make sure the liquid isn’t simmering too vigorously. If it is, lower the oven temperature 10 or 15 degrees and/or set the lid slightly ajar.
  7. When the meat is done, transfer it to a work surface. Pour the vegetables and braising liquid through a fine strainer into a large bowl, discarding all of the solids. Skim off any visible fat, and return the liquid to the dutch oven (wiped clean). Bring to a boil and reduce to about 2 cups, or until the sauce starts to thicken slightly.
  8. Remove and discard all bones, gristle, and hard pieces of fat from the short ribs.
  9. Cream together the minced anchovies with the butter and orange juice, starting with one teaspoon of orange juice and adding more if needed.
  10. Shortly before serving, stir the olives and anchovy butter into the sauce, and warm over low heat for a few minutes. Adjust to taste with kosher salt and pepper. Spoon sauce over short ribs and serve.
  11. If preparing this dish in advance, complete steps 1 – 8, placing the meat in a tall container and pouring the reduced braising liquid on top. Refrigerate. The following day, lift off the concealed fat and discard. Let the meat come to room temperature. About ½ hour before serving, place the meat in an ovenproof dish in a 325 degree F oven with 1 cup of the braising liquid. The short ribs will take about 30 minutes to reheat. Then proceed with steps 9 and 10 – reheating the remaining sauce and stirring in the anchovy butter.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • EmilyC
  • LeBec Fin
    LeBec Fin

Recipe by: EmilyC

I'm a home cook. I love salads. Two things you'll always find in my refrigerator are lemons and butter, and in my pantry good quality chocolate and the makings for chocolate chip cookies.

4 Reviews

EmilyC March 16, 2013
Please note that 2 T of unsalted butter (at room temperature) should be added to ingredients list above -- it's for the anchovy butter that gets stirred in at the end.
LeBec F. March 16, 2013
emily, the brilliant combination of ingredients drew me to read further, and the minute i saw you using VINegar and soy sauce, I knew I'd found a sister flavor-soul mate! I use soy sauce in sooo many sauces,braises, soups- to provide that striking base note. And fennel and orange are more favs. The anchovy butter is, of couse, the coup de grace! (* btw, it eems the butter was left off the ingreds list; you could write the editors and ask them to add it in.)

I do have one question> this is such a rustic dish; why bother to strain and discard the(flavorful) solids?

You have done such an admirable job on the directions- articulate, clear and well eplained. Congrats on all your hard work; i think you have finally inspired me to cook short ribs!
EmilyC March 16, 2013
Thanks for the kind words, LBF! I strain out the solids because after the long braise, the aromatics are spent, especially the carrots, and I don't like anything distracting me from the unctuous sauce! Good catch on the butter--it should be 2 tablespoons--thank you.
EmilyC January 18, 2012
Thanks sdebrango! I love short ribs too -- so rich and comforting. I could eat them multiple times a week in the winter! The fennel and citrus add a nice brightness while the anchovy butter really elevates the dish.