- Splash some vegetable oil into a very large flameproof casserole and place over a medium heat until very hot. Lightly season the ribs with salt and pepper, place in the pan and colour lightly on all sides. Remove and set aside on a wire rack placed over a tray.
- Place the empty pan back on the heat and add the roughly chopped vegetables, the peppercorns, garlic halves and thyme sprigs. Cook for 5 minutes or until golden.
- Pour the port and wine into the pan and allow to reduce by three-quarters. Return the ribs to the pan with any juices that have gathered in the resting tray, cover with the stock and bring to a simmer. Skim off any impurities, then cover the surface of the liquid with a ‘lid’ of parchment paper and place the pan in the oven. Cook for just under 3 hours until the meat is tender and falling off the bones.
- Remove the pan from the oven and leave to cool, then take the meat out and set aside. Pass the cooking liquid through a fine sieve into a clean pan and reduce by half, skimming off any impurities during the process.
- Remove the meat from the bones, discarding any sinew, and shred the meat into long strips with your fingers. Combine the reduced cooking liquid with the shredded meat, caramelized onions, carrots (without the star anise) and thyme leaves.
- Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/gas 7.
- Divide the mixture equally between 4 individual cast iron or earthenware dishes and place a piece of bone marrow in the middle. Pipe the mash around the bones (or use a spoon if you don’t have a piping bag) and fill the bones with sprigs of rosemary.
- Place the dishes in the oven and cook for 12 minutes or until the mash is golden. Serve hot, with the rosemary set alight.
The meat and vegetable mix can be prepared the day before serving and kept in the fridge. Or you can freeze it in individual portions for up to 3 months.