In a large bowl, combine the onion, celery, carrots, beets and garlic. Add the rosemary, thyme, star anise, and cinnamon stick, and set aside.
Cut the ribs between the bones, and trim all the excess outer fat. Season the ribs well with coarse salt. Dredge in flour until well coated.
In a large Dutch oven or wide soup pot on high heat, pour in enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the ribs to the hot oil, and sear the ribs so they are browned well on all sides, about 3 minutes per side. Remove the ribs, and set aside.
In the same pan, transfer all the vegetables from the bowl, and stir to caramelize, and pick up all the brown bits. Add the meat back into the pot. Pour the wine over top. Ensure all is covered with the liquid and if not, top up with water.
Add the cocoa powder, brown sugar and peppercorns, and bring to a boil, cover with a lid or foil, and place in the oven until the meat is fork tender, about 3 hours. Remove the ribs to a platter, and strain out the solids to use for something else.
Boil the cooking liquid in a wide shallow pan until it is reduced by half. It will be richer, more flavorful and thicker. Add a nub of butter at the end for sheen and flavor.
Serve the short ribs on a mound of Garlic Mashed Potatoes, topped with Green Beans and Poached Vine tomatoes, recipes follow.
Garlic Mashed Potatoes:
Slice the top off a garlic head and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and the fresh herbs. Wrap in a tin foil packet, and roast in the oven for about 1 hour.
Fill a large saucepan with water; add a few good pinches of coarse salt and the potatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until just fork tender. Do not overcook or the potatoes will be soggy. Drain off the water, leaving the potatoes in the pot.
Add the butter and cream to the potatoes, and mash well.
Remove the garlic from the oven. Squeeze the garlic cloves into the potatoes, and stir inches The consistency you want is rough, with some lumps. Season the potatoes with salt, and pepper, if desired.
Oil-Poached Cherry Tomatoes on the Vine:
In a large saute pan, add about 2 inches of olive oil. Bring to about 325 degrees F - just below frying temperature. Season with salt, herbs and toss in the garlic. Carefully place the tomatoes in the oil, and poach until they swell up and almost burst, about 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the tomatoes and use to garnish the beef short ribs.
Trim only the stem ends off the beans. Blanche the beans in a pot of salted boiling water for about 20 seconds. Drain, and immerse in an ice water bath to stop the cooking. Drain the beans on a towel. The beans should be original green in color and crunchy to the bite.
Slice the shallot into fine julienne. In a large saute pan, on high heat, add the butter and shallot. Stir until softened. Add the beans, and toss to warm through. Season with salt, and black pepper, if desired.
Serve the beans in a little mound on top of the beef short rib. Top with a poached stem of tomatoes.