Tag Archives: Braised

Braised Pork Shoulder with Guinness and Dried Cherries

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A few months ago I was fortunate to have won (and I never win anything…) Daniel Boulud’s book Braise from The Constable’s Larder.  Since receiving it, I’ve read through it several times, not only savoring all the possibilities, but learning about how braised food is prepared through the myriad international recipes included in this book.  I had absolutely no idea!

Whenever I get a new cookbook, it’s always interesting to see which recipe will be made first and to consider why it, above all the others, would be selected.

Although the Ropa Vieja, or Cuban-Braised Flank Steak with Peppers, Tomatoes, and Peppers is tagged, I’ve been so busy that the idea of beginning any recipe the day before it’s to be eaten hasn’t been possible for weeks.  And then there’s the Stuffed Cabbage with Pork and Chestnuts that I’ve been drooling over since opening the book to scan the photographs, its savory layers of ground meat and vegetables nestled beautifully between perfect layers of savoy cabbage and wrapped in bacon.  Oh, my.  I even purchased the ingredients, but again, the sheer time to work on one thing wasn’t something I seemed to be able to pull off.

In the end, it was the Pork Shoulder with Guinness and Dried Cherries that actually came to fruition, and not because I had all the ingredients.  No, it was more about my tastes continuing to develop even at this point in my life, and I was intrigued by the idea of the cherries and the strong beer slowly braising with the pork.  I have not ever been one who likes to mix sweet and savory, but that is changing.

I knew it would be amazing.

The pork is beyond tender and beginning to fall apart when it’s finished, and the interesting combination of sweetness from the cherries is well-balanced by the headiness of the Guinness. This is total comfort food.

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Chunky Beef Chili with Butternut Squash

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If you’d asked me even at age 25, I’d have told you squash wasn’t something I thought I’d enjoy eating at any point in my life.  I’d just begun to experiment with zucchini about then and that’s only because I had a small garden and harvested a few that were more than a foot long and five inches in diameter.  I quickly became someone who could cook anything with zucchini.

It was the yellow and orange squash I continued to not like the idea of, and I think it may have had something to do with texture.  When I saw it prepared, it was always soft and mushy, and ironically, sweet.  It’s always been a challenge for me to consider eating meat or vegetables that have been sweetened…well, as long as nobody counts Sweet & Sour Chicken, right?

Thankfully, I’ve gotten past the few issues I’ve had with squash, so when I saw the copper pot full of glistening “Texas Beef Brisket Chili” on the cover of Bon Appetit last month and realized those orange chunks nestled up against the beef were nuggets of savory butternut squash, I knew what we were having for dinner and quick.

But there was just one thing…this dish was anything but quick.  In fact, it was the epitome of slow and low — and just perfect for football watching on Sunday.

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Make Ahead Dinner Party Dish: Beef Daube

I know it’s a scary thought, but I do cook things on top of a stove that do not have sugar, or end up in a baking pan.  Yes, I love sugary, baked goods, but when my husbink is leaving for work in the morning and I ask him to smack his lips to consider what he’d like for dinner and he says, “Meats,”  well, then, “meats” it is.  Lots of meats. Savory, rich, delectable tasting beef.

I’ve seen a few recipes here and there for Beef Daube in the course of my on-going love affair with cookbooks and food magazines and have been curious about it.  I still have the May 1999 issue of Bon Appetit, “Provence,” that included the first Daube recipe that caught my eye.  I’ve been more one who leans toward a bourguingnon instead, trying many different recipes and searching for the perfect one.  How different are they?  Not much.  Essentially, they are both ways to braise beef in wine.  It seems that when the sauce is thickened — whether in the beginning or at the end — is what makes the biggest difference.

Depending on the source of the recipe, one can quickly learn what’s most interesting about daube — its name comes from the type of clay pot it is cooked in.  (Yes, you, too, can now win in Trivial Pursuit:  The Food Version…) No, I wouldn’t have a daubiere, but it’s not required.  But I’ll bet it’s cute and if I saw one, I can guarantee you I’d want one, fetish that I have for all things food.

A daube is usually made with inexpensive cuts of meat.  I suppose that point should be stated the other way around:  less expensive cuts of meat are often tough, so benefit from being braised — hence, daube, or stew.  I’ve seen daubes made with a leg of lamb or boar meat, as well as beef chuck — something I’m more familiar with considering it was a staple on our dinner table most Sundays while I was growing up.

The deterrent for me in making Beef Daube has always been that it can take more than a day to make if I’m using an authentic recipe that goes on and on about the type of wine that should be used and the amount of time the beef needs to marinate.  I have no patience for this, unfortunately, but one day, I’d just like to find out how much difference it truly makes…

Beef daube can be the ultimate “make ahead” dish — something we often want to do, right?  It’s actually supposed to taste better the next day.  Who knew?  There are many, many steps to the recipes I’ve seen, however, and I know that is a complete deterrent for many cooks.  What can I say?  I love to be in my kitchen.  I can think of fewer things I’d rather do than to have a whole day ahead of me thinking about cooking — without frustration and rushing, of course.  It takes some planning, but it can be accomplished.

I’ve chosen “Beef Daube with Egg Noodles” from this October’s issue of Bon Appetit to begin my experimentation.  It seemed less involved than the Daube de Boeuf in the May 1999 issue.  And since lamb is something I’m not thrilled about ever, I’ve also passed by “Daube from Avignon” from Michel Biehn’s Recipes from a Provencal Kitchen (which uses a leg of lamb), and “Beef Daube with Dried Cepes” from Georgeanne Brennan’s The Food and Flavors of Haute Provence, (which sounds excellent, but calls for a much longer cooking time).  Some other differences I’ve noticed between the recipes are: whether there’s orange peel added, and whether there’s some sort of pork added in the early phases of cooking for flavor.  The recipe I used doesn’t include the orange or the pork.  It does, however, include juniper berries.  They look a bit like peppercorns, but they’re soft and can be squeezed.  They give off a pungent, but pleasant evergreen scent, and when chewed, taste a bit like pine nuts with a bite.  Interestingly, a very slight oil reminescent of that found on an orange peel lingers on your lips…Fascinating, don’t you think?

Remember:  Inexpensive meat, and can make ahead…What’s not to like?

The recipe for “Beef Daube with Egg Noodles” isn’t listed at epicurious yet, so I’m begrudgingly typing the whole thing just for you…But I am doing my own version of the directions based on how I prepared the dish.  The alterations don’t change the dish — just provide clarity and ease.

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