Published on December 6th, 2012 | by Craig Collins1
Holiday Wine & Recipe Series – ‘Tis the Season for Braising
Wines to Pair with Braised Meals with Craig Collins
The cooler weather is here, finally! This is an exciting time of year for me as I get to not only break out hats and sweaters but winter wines as well. Winter wines you ask? Well, during these cooler months we tend to eat more comfort food such as braised meats (see Rick’s recipes below) and stews and we need wines that are up for the challenge.
With the cooler weather, I immediately steer towards wines that have more body and richness. We tend to think of this category as limiting us to red wines but there are some amazing whites that fit this description as well. Some white grapes lend themselves to a richer profile such as Chardonnay, and there are several great examples from every region in the world. Keeping things close to home, the Landmark Chardonnay from Sonoma, California shows bright tropical and citrus fruit balanced by a kiss of oak. This wine exemplifies the richness and complexity needed for this time of year while pairing with more robust dishes along the way.
And for a winter red, I wait all year to uncork a bottle of Amarone. This quintessential Italian red is not only steeped in tradition but made for foods cooked ‘slow and low’. Amarone is produced in the Veneto region of Italy and made from native grapes, such as Corvina, that have been dried before the winemaking process begins. This drying process adds a deep, rich, almost raisin component to the wine. One of the newer producers in the market is Tenuta Sant’Antonio and their Amarone is one of the most food friendly around. This wine not only offers the full body and richness that you want to wrap up around a fire with a bowl of stew but have enough acid and balance to provide you with an amazing culinary experience.
Cool weather is upon us so use this as an opportunity to branch out of your traditional taste preferences and enjoy something a bit more robust. It will not only keep you warm but I promise you will thank me in the morning, Cheers!
The Magic of Braising with Rick Bakas
It kind of doesn’t matter what follows the word, “braised” the point is you know it’s going to be succulent, tender and juicy. Braised proteins, like the brisket pictured above, (and vegetables) seem to go hand in hand with comfort food and chilly winter weather.
Braising is actually pretty easy to do, it just relies on the idea of cooking “slow and low” in a liquid for a few hours. Over time, the flavorful liquid makes its way into every fiber of the protein and helps break it down, which is what makes it fall-off-the-bone tender. You really can’t mess up braising.
If hosting dinner guests, braised dishes not only blow people’s taste buds away, but most of the work is done way ahead of time so you can chill out with your guests instead of running around prepping a bunch of food.
An all time favorite recipe we like to make at Chéz Bakas can be made in a dutch oven or crock pot:
Braised Beef Short Ribs
4 Bone-in beef short ribs – (also try veal, chuck, lamb or pork for leaner options)
Vegetable oil – 1 Tbsp
Sea salt – 3/4 tsp
Black pepper – 1/2 tsp
2 Carrots – chopped
1 Medium onion – finely chopped
3 Garlic cloves – finely chopped
1 (14-ounce) can whole San Marzano tomatoes in juice – puréed in a blender with juice
1-1/2 cups dry red wine
4 Cups brown veal stock or 1/2 cup Demi-Glace Gold concentrate (concentrate requires a dilution ratio of 1:8; 1/2 cup concentrate to 4 cups water
3 Sprigs fresh thyme
1 Bay leaf
1 Tbsp red-wine vinegar
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
- Put oven rack in lower third of oven and preheat oven to 250°F. Pat beef dry. Heat oil in a wide (12 inches in diameter) 3- to 5-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then brown beef on all sides, turning with tongs, about 8 minutes.
- Transfer to a plate and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon sea salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.
- Add chopped carrots, onion, and garlic to oil in pot and cook over moderate heat, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in 1 cup puréed tomatoes (reserve remainder for another use) and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Add wine and boil, stirring occasionally, until sauce is thickened, about 8 minutes. Add veal stock, thyme, bay leaf, vinegars, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper to sauce, and bring to a simmer.
- Skim fat from surface, then add beef along with any juices accumulated on plate and cover pot with a tight-fitting lid.
- Transfer to oven and braise until beef is very tender, 4 to 5 hours. Serve over polenta or smashed baby potatoes. Enjoy!
Another recipe we like uses the same idea, but has an asian flair to it. This Braised Miso Chicken recipe is based off a classic Korean Hot Pot dish:
Braised Miso Chicken
8 Chicken thighs with skin and bone
1 lb. button mushrooms, sliced
4 Cups chicken stock or reduced-sodium chicken broth (32 fluid ounces)
2 Stalks Bok Choy
2 TSP rice vinegar
2 TBSP garlic chile (also known as sriracha)
3 TBSP canola oil
2 Large onions, coarsely chopped
1 lb fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded, large caps quartered
3 TBSP finely chopped peeled ginger
3 TBSP finely chopped garlic
1 Cup mirin
1 Cup white miso1/2 cup soy sauce
1 lb cabbage style greens, coarsely chopped
- Preheat oven to 450°F with rack in middle.
- Pat chicken dry, then roast, skin side up, in 1 layer in a 17- by 12-inch shallow baking pan until skin is golden brown, 35 to 40 minutes.
- While chicken roasts, soak button mushrooms in 4 cups water until softened, about 15 minutes. Drain in a sieve, then rinse well and discard any hard pieces. Drain well, squeezing out excess water.
- Transfer roasted chicken to a bowl and pour pan juices through a fine-mesh sieve into a 1-quart glass measure. Let stand until fat rises to top, 1 to 2 minutes, then skim off and discard fat. Add enough stock to bring total to 4 cups liquid.
- Heat up the Crock Pot to High (300°F) or reduce heat in oven to that temp.
- Clean and cut Bok Choy into one inch by one inch pieces. Soak in 2 cups water with vinegar.
- Heat oil in a 7- to 8-quart heavy pot over medium-high heat until it shimmers, then sauté onions until softened and beginning to brown. Add shiitakes, ginger, and garlic and sauté until garlic is golden, 3 to 5 minutes.
- Add mirin and boil, stirring and scraping up any brown bits, 1 minute. Stir in miso and soy sauce, then stir in chicken, button mushrooms, bok choy (drained), stock mixture, and garlic chile. Bring to a boil, skimming off any froth.
- Pour into Crock Pot or cover pot and braise in oven until chicken is tender, about 1 hour.
- Stir in cabbage style greens and continue to braise, covered, 5 minutes. Serve in shallow bowls with brown rice and garnished by chopped scallions.