Preheat oven to 150C. Heat olive oil in a very large saucepan over medium heat, add onion, garlic and half the fennel seeds, season to taste and sauté until starting to soften (3-4 minutes), add herbs and cook until onions are soft (8-10 minutes). Deglaze pan with wine and reduce liquid by half (20-30 minutes), then add tomato and stock and bring to the boil.
Season ribs to taste and lay them snugly in a roasting pan. Add tomato stock (ribs need to be completely covered, so add a little water if necessary), cover and roast until meat starts to fall from the bone (2-3 hours). If liquid evaporates, add extra water. Set aside to cool, then refrigerate in braising stock overnight.
Dry-roast remaining fennel seeds (1-2 minutes), set aside.
Remove meat from braising stock and set aside. Strain braising stock through a fine sieve and reserve 1 litre. Remaining stock will keep frozen for 3 months.
Cook anchovies and a little of their oil in a shallow saucepan over very low heat, add reserved braising stock, sugar and roasted fennel seeds and cook until liquid is reduced by half and is rich, slightly sticky and a little sweet (20-25 minutes), then add lemon juice.
Meanwhile, heat a large non-stick frying pan over low-medium heat, add short ribs and turn occasionally until browned (10 minutes each side). Transfer to braising stock and simmer over low-medium heat until stock is reduced to a thick sauce consistency (10-20 minutes). Serve ribs on a platter topped with braising stock.
This recipe is from the November 2010 issue of Australian Gourmet Traveller.