TT Tip: Instead of marinating the ribs in the fennel-herb spice blend, substitute your favorite spice blend (garam masala, five spice or chili powder all work nicely).
Slow-Spiced Short Ribs
Recipe from the Tasting Table Test Kitchen
Yield: 12 appetizer-size servings
Cook Time: 3 hours, 5 minutes (plus overnight marinating)
1 teaspoon dried fennel seeds
1 teaspoon dried lavender
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1½ teaspoons kosher salt plus extra for seasoning fried shallot
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2½ pounds beef short ribs
½ cup plus 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided
2 large shallots, halved and thinly sliced, divided
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 cups medium-bodied red wine (such as Côtes du Rhône)
2 cups beef broth or stock
1 tablespoon finely chopped orange zest plus ¼ cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon good quality balsamic vinegar
1. In a large bowl, combine the fennel seeds, lavender, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, salt and pepper. Add the short ribs and coat with the spices. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
2. Remove the short ribs from the refrigerator. In a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot set over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons of oil and heat until smoking, 1½ to 2 minutes. Add the short ribs and brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Use tongs to transfer the ribs to a large plate. Add 1 tablespoon of oil and half of the shallots to the pan and cook, stirring, until soft, about 2 minutes. Stir in the garlic and once fragrant, after about 30 seconds, add the wine and beef broth. Bring to a simmer, return the short ribs to the pot, reduce the heat to medium-low, cover and cook until the short ribs are incredibly tender and easily pull away from the bone, 2 to 2½ hours. Turn off the heat and remove the short ribs from the pan. Once they're cool enough to handle, shred the meat using your fingers (discard the bones).
3. In a small saucepan set over medium-high heat, add ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Add the remaining sliced shallots and cook until browned and crisp, 1½ to 2 minutes. Add the orange zest and fry for 15 seconds and immediately use a slotted spoon to transfer the shallots and zest to a paper towel-lined plate. Sprinkle with salt.
4. In a small bowl, mix together the butter and flour until a smooth paste forms. Use a spoon to skim off as much fat as possible from the braising liquid in the pot (pour the braising liquid into a medium bowl and place in the freezer to expedite the fat removal). To the sauce, add the orange juice and balsamic vinegar and set over medium-high heat. Once the sauce comes to a simmer, cook, stirring occasionally, until it is thick and reduced to about 1½ cups, 10 to 15 minutes. Whisk in the butter-flour mixture and simmer until the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes. Turn off the heat. Add the shredded short ribs and toss to combine.
5. Place a few tablespoons of the short ribs on 12 large spoons (Asian-style soup spoons work nicely). Top with the fried shallot mixture and serve, replenishing the spoons with more short ribs and fried shallot.