Beef Short Ribs Simmered in Red Wine with Fennel Black Olives, and Anchovies in the Style of the Camargue

Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

The Slow Mediterranean Kitchen

By Paula Wolfert

Published 2003

  • About

Popular Mediterranean licorice-tasting spirits, such as Pernod, raki, or ouzo, are often served accompanied by a small plate of oily black olives or salty fish. In this wonderful beef stew, a single teaspoon of one of these spirits creates great depth of flavor. This stew is best if started a day in advance so that all the fat can be removed and all the flavors are allowed to develop fully

Serve with saffron-flavored rice and a fresh fennel salad.


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 ½ to 3 pounds bone-in beef short ribs (8 to 12 pieces)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon bruised fennel seeds
  • tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 3 ounces pancetta, diced
  • 1 medium onion, minced
  • 1 small carrot, sliced
  • 1 small leek, sliced
  • 2 cups hearty red wine
  • 5 garlic cloves
  • ½ cup tomato sauce
  • cups meat stock or water
  • Bouquet garni (celery leaf sprigs, 1 sprig of thyme, 2 sprigs of parsley, 1 bay leaf, and strip of orange zest, tied together)
  • 24 oil-cured black olives
  • 3 anchovy fillets
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 teaspoon Pernod, ouzo, or raki


    1. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Heat the oil in a large skillet over high heat. Season the short ribs with salt, pepper, and a pinch of bruised fennel seeds. Dust lightly with 2 tablespoons of the flour, shake off the excess, and place in the hot oil to brown on all sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer the meat to a 5- or 6-quart earthen or enameled cast-iron casserole. Pour off all the fat from the skillet, return it to medium heat, and deglaze the skillet with the wine vinegar and 3 tablespoons water. Pour over the meat.
    2. Add the pancetta and onion to the skillet and sauté over medium heat until just beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the carrot and leek and fry until they begin to turn golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining 1½ tablespoons flour and cook until everything turns a deep brown. (Be sure to adjust the heat as necessary to keep the flour from burning.) Pour in the wine and boil until reduced by half. Add the garlic, tomato sauce, and stock or water and bring to a boil. Tuck in the herb bouquet. Wet a sheet of crumpled parchment and place directly over the contents of the casserole, cover with the lid, and set in the oven to bake until the meat is very tender, 3 to 3½ hours, turning the ribs once midway.
    3. Transfer the short ribs to a work surface. Pour the vegetables and liquid through a fine strainer into a large bowl; discard all solids. Skim off as much fat as possible from the liquid and return to a clean casserole. Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat and reduce to about 2½ cups. Remove from the heat and set aside.
    4. When the meat is cool enough to handle, remove and discard all bones, gristle, and hard pieces of fat. Place the meat in a tall container, pour the reduced liquid on top, cool, cover, and refrigerate.
    5. The following day, about 2 hours before serving, lift off the congealed fat; discard. Let the meat come to room temperature.
    6. Pit the black olives and soak in water for 15 minutes. Rinse and drain the anchovies. Cream the butter with the anchovies and Pernod.
    7. About 30 minutes before serving, place the meat in an ovenproof serving dish with 1 cup of the cooking juices. Set in a cold oven and turn the oven temperature to 325°F. The short ribs will take about 30 minutes to reheat.
    8. Shortly before serving, heat the remaining liquid in a saucepan to simmering. Stir in the olives and anchovy butter and cook over low heat for a few minutes. Swirl the pan to allow the butter to blend with the sauce. Correct the seasoning with salt and pepper as needed. Pour over the meat and serve.