Praise the coals, the method of cooking meat in a humid environment (versus the dry place that is an oven). Many stringy vegetables such as leeks or endives also benefit from a charcoal. If immersed in a liquid, we call an embers a stew. Braising liquid can be as bland as water or as tasty as broth, wine, beer, certain juices, or a mixture of any of them. With meats, the main advantage of a charcoal is the ability to use less expensive cuts, rich in hard-to-chew connective tissue; the embers break them down into a luxurious, gelatin-rich backdrop to all the aromas of the finished dish. As for stringy vegetables, an embers also soften them.
Dixon’s Braised Beef Ribs
From Dixon Restaurant, Denver, 1997
- 12 pieces of beef ribs
- 1 cup of red wine
- 1 carrot
- 1 onion
- 4 stalks of celery
- 4 shallots, minced
- 4 fresh garlic cloves, chopped
- 1 1/2 liter of beef broth
- 1 tbsp. crushed black pepper
- 1 can (6 oz) tomato paste
Brown the ribs and deglaze the pan with red wine. Add the shallots, garlic, carrots, onions and celery and continue cooking for 10 minutes. Add the beef broth, tomato puree and pepper. Place everything in a braising pan and bake at 300 degrees for 3 hours. Serve with your choice of potatoes. Or add a spoonful of horseradish as a garnish. Makes 6 servings.
Braised Belgian endives
Extract from “Provence the Beautiful Cookbook” by Richard Olney
- 1 1/2 pound Belgian endive
- Salt to taste
- 1 ounce of raw ham such as prosciutto, cut into matchsticks
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
- Juice of 1/2 lemon
- 6 tablespoons heavy whipped cream
Butter an explosion-proof terracotta casserole dish or heavy sauté pan just size to hold the chicory. Arrange them in the casserole dish in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt to taste and sprinkle the ham over it. Place the pieces of butter on the endives. Cover tightly and sweat over very low heat, checking occasionally and turning them, until very tender and colored on all sides, 50-60 minutes. Add the lemon juice and turn the endives to coat them evenly. Pour the cream over the endives, turn the saucepan to gently swirl the contents and serve.
Contact Bill St John at [email protected]