I thought I’d missed the boat for posting wintery recipes like short ribs, but after spending last Friday trying to navigate the snow-covered streets amongst people who were losing their MINDS about said snow, I realized that winter is FAR from being done with our sorry asses. Sorry but not sorry that it means I get to post a couple of good braising recipes because I love me a B-R-A-I-S-E.
Perhaps my favourite part of a braise is the fact that most braised foods (beef stew! short ribs! lamb shanks!) taste even better the next day… and even the day after that...often still, the day after that. Being better-tasting the next day means that you can actually prep 90% of the meal the day before serving it, hence leaving your afternoon open on dinner party day to get inappropriately drunk on red wine before your guests have even arrived (and making them wonder how you managed to pull together such a dope meal while intoxicated). So many perks when it comes to a good braise.
Although braises tend to be cheaper than other meat-heavy dishes (e.g. a braise for 6 people will nearly always be cheaper than doing steaks for 6 people), you will still need to drop most of your dinner expense on the protein. Make sure your hard-earned money is not wasted by ensuring that you a) buy nice meat (like from a butcher, please) and b) season it adequately so that it actually tastes like something instead of like nothing. Don’t think that buying great meat means being able to skimp on the salt. You need to salt the crap out of big cuts like short ribs or shanks, and then you need to re-season them again after they’ve braised. Under-salted meat is a needless tragedy that shall not be associated with the recipes listed here, agreed?
So what kind of a braise vibe do you want to channel? Something emboldened by the flavours of a big red wine, punctuated with acidity from tomatoes, and fattened up with salty bits of pancetta? Or something aromatically spiced with heaps of illness-fighting ginger, garlic, and five spice, sweetened oh-so-slightly with sake and cinnamon, and rounded out with salty notes of soy sauce? Both will bring warmth deep into your bones in a way that a chaotic Vancouver winter (or Spring…or Fall) has never done for you.