Sunday, January 20, 2013

Praising the Braise

I am lucky to have great friends who are great cooks. When we get together, whether for dog walks, coffee or grabbing a table someplace to catch up, the conversation inevitably, and not surprisingly, turns to food—what we've been eating recently, what we've been cooking, where to get great ingredients.

The roast shoulder, pre-shredding.

And they're used to me perpetually asking for their recipes, and if it just may be, might be okay to publish them on the blog. Pretty please?

Michel and I were out with our dogs, hers a gorgeous flat-coated retriever named Shona, who is the long-legged love of Walker's life and a new favorite friend of Kitty's. As they romped their way around the wet, grassy field at a nearby school, she mentioned a lamb dish she'd whipped up for a recent dinner.


Now Michel has a serious history with food, so when she starts raving a recipe, my ears perk up. This one was for short ribs, but she said it would make a great braise for pork, beef or chicken. With most of Petunia still sitting in the freezer, I latched onto the pork idea and, on arriving home, dried off two very wet dogs and pulled a big shoulder roast out of the freezer.

The next night we had pork tacos with rice and a quick slaw, with a roasted poblano crema made from peppers I'd stashed in the vegetable bin. The pork also made some awesome pulled pork sandwiches that Dave was thrilled to pull out of his lunchbox, and the last of it got mixed in with roasted tomatoes and tossed with pasta.

So what I'm saying is that the recipe below is limited only by your imagination, and would go from company's-coming to warmed-up-for-lunch. Thanks, Michel!

Short Ribs Braised in Coffee Ancho Chile Sauce

This would be fabulous with lamb and pork, too.

4 dried ancho chiles, stemmed, seeded, ribs discarded
2 c. boiling-hot water
1 medium onion, quartered
3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp. finely chopped canned chipotle chiles in adobo plus 2 teaspoons adobo sauce (optional)
2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
3 tsp. salt
4-6 lb. beef short ribs or flanken (or in my case, pork shoulder)
1 tsp. black pepper
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1/2 c. espresso or strong French press coffee

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Soak ancho chiles in boiling-hot water until softened, about 20 minutes, then drain in a colander set over a bowl. Taste soaking liquid: It will be a little bitter, but if unpleasantly so, discard it; otherwise, reserve for braising. Transfer ancho chiles to a blender and purée with onion, garlic, chipotles (if using) with sauce, maple syrup, lime juice and 1 teaspoon salt.

Pat ribs dry and sprinkle with pepper and remaining 2 teaspoons salt. Heat oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown ribs in 3 batches, turning occasionally, about 5 minutes per batch. Transfer as browned to a roasting pan just large enough to hold ribs in 1 layer.

Carefully add chile purée to fat remaining in skillet (use caution, since it will splatter and steam) and cook over moderately low heat, stirring frequently, 5 minutes. Add reserved chile soaking liquid (or 1 1/2 cups water) and coffee and bring to a boil, then pour over ribs (liquid should come about halfway up sides of meat).

Cover roasting pan tightly with foil and braise ribs in middle of oven until very tender, 3 to 3 1/2 hours. Skim fat from pan juices and serve with ribs.

Michel's note: Ribs improve in flavor if braised 2 days ahead. Cool, uncovered, then chill, surface covered with parchment paper or wax paper and roasting pan covered with foil. Remove any solidified fat before reheating.

Kathleen's note: When the pork was done, I removed it to a board and shredded it as seen in top photo, fat and all. The shredded meat then went into a large skillet with enough of the sauce to moisten it. It was kept warm while taco ingredients were prepared, then served.

Get the roasted poblano crema recipe that goes ever-so-well with the pork tacos. Get another of Michel's incredibly delicious recipes: Braised Lamb Shoulder.


Tiffany said...

Going to try this soon...sounds so good on a cold winter day!

Kathleen Bauer said...

Let me know what you think, Tiffany, especially if you make any adjustments!