Spanish Style Short Ribs with Sweet Anise and Saffron

This recipe features ingredients characteristic of the Iberian peninsula. Anise and saffron unite to create a classic combination of flavors



Advance Seared Short Ribs, 1/2 recipe (4 short ribs).

Sweet anise, 1 bulbs.
Onion, 1 each.
Celery, four stalks.
Garlic, one head or powdered, 2 teaspoons.
Fennel seeds, 1 Tablespoon.
Vegetable oil, 1 oz/30 ml.

San Marzano tomatoes or equivalent, 1 can, 28 oz/840 g.
Saffron, 1 gram (a medium pinch).
Kosher salt, 1 Tablespoon.
Butter, 3 oz/90 g.

Parsley, chopped, approximately half of one bunch.

Rice, Spanish Bomba or any short grain, 1 cup/2400 ml.
Water or unseasoned stock, 2 cups or as per package directions..
Butter, 2 oz/60 g.
Saffron, 0.5 g (a pinch).


Equipment requirements
Immersion circulator, portable or stationary.
Heat rated container, minimum of 2 gallons/8 liters.
Ziploc gallon freezer bags.
Heat rated sous vide bags.
Rice cooker or sauce pan with lid, minimum 3 quart/3 L.
Infrared or probe thermometer.

This recipe is an adjunct to Advance Seared Short Ribs

What is Sweet Anise?

While sweet anise bulbs are widely consumed in most European countries, they mostly occupy shelf space in American markets. The idea of a vegetable that tastes like the black, rope-like candy that many of us gnawed on in our childhoods seems incongruous. Anise is not sweet in and of itself.

The celery-like bulb has a crisp texture, very mild flavor and a pleasant fragrance–excellent cooked or grilled, or even sliced razor thin in salads.

Serves 2-4

Level of difficulty 2.50


Preheat the sous vide bath to
183 F/84 C.

Submerge the packages of short ribs in the sous vide bath for 2 minutes to fully melt the gel. Remove the short ribs from the bags and pat dry. Juices in the bag can usually be processed for use, but because of the advance searing process there will be very little juice in these bags.

Chop the anise, onion and celery to 1/2″/14 mm. Smash the garlic, peel, and chop coarsely.

The long green stems tend to degrade during cooking and are best for salads. Save a few of the small fronds for garnish.

Stage the celery, onions, fennel and garlic into a heat rated sous vide bag. Add the fennel seeds, the vegetable oil and the short ribs. Vacuum seal the bag and lower into the bath. Make sure the contents are always below the water line.

Add the tomatoes, the saffron, the salt and the butter to a separate Ziploc gallon freezer bag. I use a Ziploc bag for this because sealing a bag with wet contents is difficult for channel vacuum devices. Pinch the bag to break the tomatoes into smaller pieces. Lower the bag into the bath and it will slowly sink. Seal or drape the opening over the edge of the container. Process both bags for a minimum of one hour or as many as four hours, whichever is most convenient for you.

This is a unique characteristic of sous vide–because of the temperatures used, food is much less likely to over cook. Because of the sealed environment, it cannot dry out. After processing is completed, you can lower the temperature to 135 F/57 C and safely hold the packages for up to eight hours without the quality of the contents degrading. This is another feature of sous vide that no other method of cooking/holding can lay claim to.

Make the rice.
Most methods described on rice packaging are correct. You can follow those directions, or use this method:
Combine the water/stock with the rice in a sauce pan, bring to a furious boil for 2 minutes, cover and turn off heat. Wait at least 20 minutes.

At service, add the butter and saffron, stir lightly with a fork.


Family style

Stage the bag with the short ribs into a large deep platter. When you open the bag, you will get a good idea of the fragrance of the fennel. Pull the short ribs up from the bottom and arrange them on top.

Stage the bag with the tomato/fennel/butter mixture into another deep platter.

You will see a rim of butter around the tomatoes. Using a large spoon, fold the sauce from the rim towards the center to emulsify the sauce. Then, ladle the tomato mixture over the short ribs.

Garnish with the fennel fronds and a large bundle of fresh thyme or rosemary.

Individual presentation

Put the rice in a flat bowl. Put some tomatoes on the bottom of the plate and put the short ribs on top. Spoon some of the fennel mixture over the top and garnish.

Norm King






This particular recipe was engineered for working people who have a taste for slow cooked, braised dishes but lack the time (or patience) to execute recipes using conventional, traditional methods. Even though the short ribs are sous vide processed for 72 hours, only a small amount of occasional monitoring is required.
Once the enthusiast is ready to enjoy this festive concoction, he/she is less than three hours away from completion--only two hours if some of the preparation is done while the short ribs are "taking their bath."

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