Cut the boneless beef short ribs (or stew meat) into about 1 inch chunks and sprinkle with the 1 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp of pepper. If you can find short ribs, they lend an extra richness to this dish, but stew meat works beautifully too
Cut the fennel bulb into a dice - I usually cut it into slices first and then into a medium dice.
Peel and cut the onion and carrots into a medium dice
Chop the garlic into a small dice
Tie the rosemary and thyme sprigs together with kitchen twine and set aside
Heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil in a large dutch oven or heavy pot to medium hot
Add the beef pieces in a single layer to the pot
Sear the beef until it is brown on all sides. It does not need to be cooked through
Remove the beef from the pot and set aside
Drizzle the other tbsp of olive oil to the pot and add the onions, carrots and fennel. Cook until the vegetables begin to soften about 15 minutes
Add the chopped garlic (and if you are using dried rosemary & thyme) and cook for 30 seconds
Add the tomato paste to the pot and mix well
Add the 2 cups of wine and stir to combine. Use tongs or a wooden spoon to scrape up the browed bits of meat. (the fancy name for this is deglazing the pan - mostly is just means extra flavor!)
Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the wine has reduced by half - about 10 minutes
Add the 2 cups of chicken stock, the rosemary/thyme bundle (if using) and the beef with any juices to the pot. Bring to a boil, cover and place in the oven for 2 hours
Take the pot out of the oven. Remove the rosemary/thyme bundle and take the beef pieces out with a slotted spoon. (your kitchen will smell amazing, by the way)
Bring the sauce to a boil, reduce the heat to medium and boil until the sauce has reduced by about half and thickened.
Add the beef back to the pot, taste and adjust the seasonings
Serve with your favorite bread (gluten free for me!). This stew tastes even better the second or third day. I usually make this on a Sunday and save it for a fabulous, quick weeknight meal.