Saturday, March 26, 2011

Adult Swim: Creating the Perfect Wine Braise

I was pretty darn happy to hear Chicago Tribune's Nara Schoenberg referred to our book as "a sane approach to picky eating." And that she referred to the recipes as "simple, delicious and kid-friendly." I hope everyone finds the book to be as helpful.

But. I will confess that sometimes, once in a while, I cook just for me. And, if the kids likes it, too, all the better. We do a lot of braising since we get grass fed meats. We like to braise in red wine, too. The alcohol mostly cooks off, especially over the long cooking times we use.

I'll admit it. I just plain like red wine. I am no wine snob and I can't taste my way out of the paper bag you hide the bottle in. But I do like what I can taste: berries, spicy notes, smokiness, earthiness, cherries. Not so much on the oak.

I like the complexity of flavors. I love dark, dark chocolate and drink my coffee strong and dark. It never fails to amaze me how the same plant, be it grapes, coffee beans or cacao beans, can taste so different depending on where it grew. These are a few of my favorite things.

So, what if you "built" the perfect glass of cabernet in flavors, added the complexity of chocolate and coffee, then added the wine, and used it so braise a gorgeous lamb rib roast?

It's good. It's really, really good. And the kid liked it, too. What I shared, anyway.

1 2lb. lamb rib roast
2 tbs. grape seed or canola oil
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, smashed
1 sprig rosemary
1 bottle of dry red wine
1 large square of cheese cloth
cooking twine
1 tbs. Dutch cocoa powder
1 tbs. coffee beans
1 cinnamon stick
2 green cardamom pods
1 black cardamom pod
1 star anise
6 cloves
1 bay leaf
8 Sichuan peppercorns
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup elderberry syrup (or just tart cherry juice)
1/4 cup dried cherries

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Low and slow.

In a Dutch oven, heat the oil and brown each side of the lamb roast. Set aside on a platter.

Add the onions and carrot and garlic clove and saute for a couple minutes. Add just a bit of the wine to deglaze the pan. Sweat this mixture for 10 minutes. Add the wine, syrup or juice, and the dried cherries and bring to a simmer. Add the rosemary sprig. Place the lamb roast in the pot, fatty side up.

In the cheesecloth, wrap all the stuff from the cocoa powder to the peppercorns. Tie in a bundle. Nestle this bundle in next to the lamb. Cover and place in the oven for three hours.

This should be fall-off-the-bone tender. Remove the roast to a platter, cover and keep warm. Strain the cooking liquid over a bowl to capture all that delicious braising liquid. Discard all the solids and the bundle. It's done its job and done it well. Put the liquid back in the pot and simmer, uncovered, on the stove until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

I serve this over Roasted Garlic and Parsnip Puree. And, yes, the kid ate it. She steals my dark chocolate, too. And drinks my coffee.

1 comment:

KCNapkins Guy said...

This post gave me an idea for a second book you need to write: Tips and tricks for cooking with grass-fed meats. There's a part of me that wants to go all grass-fed but I don't trust myself cooking it just yet! It's a totally different beast (literally), right?
Yeah, when can I read a first draft? Thanks in advance.