Sunday, May 20, 2012

Comfort food craving: Spicy Tomato Fennel Short Ribs

Being on vacation has a way of making you crave home-cooked comfort food, even while you’re sampling new cuisine and tasting amazing flavor combinations. By the time we got home from our trip I was channeling my inner 1950’s male and just wanted baked potatoes, pasta, meatloaf, and roast chicken…basically, anything meaty and starchy.

And thanks to my doting daddy dearest, our first night home we got just that. Meatloaf and baked potatoes, all packaged up and ready to eat. How did he know that was exactly what I wanted? Might have had something to do with the text I sent him while we were driving towards home. Something like, “Mmmmmm…birthday meatloaf?” Subtle, huh? (I feel the need to note here that my mom replied to my text, “Dream on.” Thankfully she was not in charge of the meatloaf making.)

Because of a very busy first week back and my current penchant for meat and potatoes, things have not been very exciting in the kitchen. Although my mental notebook is full of things from our trip to experiment on and I hope to get to those soon. My taste buds have been inspired by Navajo dishes (hello fry bread and honey!) and New Mexican flavors. My kitchen is now stocked with fresh peppers and their dried counterparts; I will master authentic red chile sauce…someday.

Until then, more comfort food...

Spicy Tomato Fennel Shorts Ribs over Pasta

1 1/2 pounds boneless beef short ribs
1 large fennel bulb, diced
1/3 cup chopped shallots
4 garlic cloves
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
1 cup white wine, divided use
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
fennel pollen (optional)
canola oil
parmesan cheese shavings
cooked pasta

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
Trim fat off of short ribs, then season liberally with salt, pepper and fennel pollen (if using). Coat lightly with flour.
Heat a drizzle of canola oil in a large Dutch oven until very hot. Sear all sides of short ribs until browned, then remove from pot and reserve.
Sauté fennel and shallots in the same pot. When bottom starts to brown, deglaze with 1/2 cup of white wine. Cook until soft, add garlic and cook for 30 seconds more.
Stir in tomatoes, sauce, remaining 1/2 cup of wine, red pepper flakes, and season with salt and pepper. Place short ribs in the sauce mixture and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook in oven for about 3 hours, until fork tender and falling apart.
Remove short ribs from sauce and pull apart. Serve over pasta with sauce and parmesan cheese.

If you’ve got a comfort food craving, this dish has you covered. The short ribs are ridiculously tender and the sauce is rich and flavorful with hints of anise and spice. Don’t shy away from this because the weather is getting warmer… although to look at this meaty pasta dish you’d think it was a bit heavy, the tomato-based sauce actually lightens things up a bit. I would happily eat this one year-round.


  1. Looks like the perfect comfort food...besides birthday meatloaf!

  2. fall off the bone ribs? definitely comfort food. i could feel the pasta dancing in my mouth together with all the spicy goodness coming from the ribs. definitely comfort food! yum!

  3. I always always always want meatloaf, mashed potatoes, and macaroni for my birthday dinner. What is that? I love that you're lovin the Navajo flavors. I got into a kick like that not too long ago. Try my corn casserole: It's to die for and encompasses those flavors. I will be making this for sure. Hubs would love it.

  4. This is comfort food at its best, Karen! This would be a big hit at my house! Excellent recipe.

  5. Looks delicious Karen!

  6. Sure looks wonderful; I have to admit I have never cooked with fennel; you are inspiring me to try this out. Can't beat comfort food.

  7. Thankfully I'm not in charge of making anything!

  8. I looooveee short ribs but haven't made my own before. Can't wait to try this out, it looks sooo good and comforting. YUM! :)

  9. This reminds me of one of my favorite ragu pastas! I'd love to try this!

  10. Hi Karen,
    Thank you for posting the Spicy Tomato Fennel Short Ribs recipe.
    I’ve been looking for this recipe since forever! LOL. :D
    I’d like to invite you to submit the pictures of your Spicy Tomato Fennel Short Ribs to so other chefs can make the same creation. :)
    You know it’s fun to make others hungry. :D
    Can’t wait for your recipe. :D

  11. Yummy...I love short ribs, but have never actually cooked them. Next time they are on sale, I am buying some for sure!! Have a wonderful Memorial Day, Karen!!