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Braising brings out the best in less-tender cuts of meat

Browning the food adds flavour and the moist heat with a long cooking time tenderizes.
Pulled pork on a bun with coleslaw is a great casual meal. Serve with a side of fries or onion rings.

WESTERN PRODUCER — Braising food combines lightly frying or sautéing (dry heat method) with a cooking liquid and the lid on (moist heat method).

Browning the food adds flavour and the moist heat with a long cooking time tenderizes. This is a perfect way to use the less tender cuts of meat for rich flavour and tenderness in the finished meal.

Vij’s Beef Short Ribs

  • 2 tbsp. ghee or butter 30 mL
  • 1/4 c. canola oil 60 mL
  • 1 tbsp. cumin seeds 15 mL
  • 2 large onions,finely chopped
  • 10 cloves garlic,finely chopped
  • 1 19 fl. oz. can tomatoes,pureed 600 mL
  • 1 tsp. ground fenugreekseeds 5 mL
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. ground cumin 22 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric 2 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne 2 mL
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. chili powder 22 mL
  • 1 piece cinnamon stick
  • 5 c. vegetable or chicken stock 1.25 L
  • 1/2 c. red wine 125 mL
  • 2 1/2 lb. beef short ribs 1 kg

In a large, heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid, melt ghee or butter on medium to high heat. Add oil and cumin seeds. After 30 seconds, add onions. Sauté eight to 10 minutes, until brown. Add garlic and sauté until it is browned.

Reduce heat to low and add tomatoes, fenugreek, cumin, turmeric, cayenne, chili and cinnamon stick. Cook, stirring constantly, until oil separates from the tomatoes, about 10 minutes.

Add stock and wine and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.

Add short ribs and stir well. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for about four hours, stirring occasionally.

To serve, place one short rib in each bowl and ladle the curry over top. Adapted from a recipe by Vikram Vij.

Slow Cooker Pulled Pork

This will keep in the refrigerator for up to four days. You can freeze cooked pulled pork for up to six months.

  • 1 tsp. vegetable oil 5 mL
  • 1 4 lb. pork shoulderroast 2 kg
  • 1 c. barbecue sauce 250 mL
  • 1/2 c. apple cidervinegar 125 mL
  • 1/2 c. chicken broth 125 mL
  • 1/4 c. light brown sugar 60 mL
  • 1 tbsp. mustard 15 mL
  • 1 tbsp. Worcestershiresauce 15 mL
  • 1 tbsp. chili powder 15 mL
  • 1 extra large onion, chopped
  • 2 large cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried thyme 7 mL
  • 8 hamburger buns, split
  • 2 tbsp. butter,or as needed 30 mL

Add oil to skillet and heat to medium high. Sear the pork roast on all sides to a nice dark colour. Then place pork roast into the slow cooker and pour in barbecue sauce, vinegar and chicken stock. Stir in brown sugar, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, chili powder, onion, garlic and thyme. Cover and cook on low for 10 to 12 hours or on high for five to six hours until pork shreds easily with a fork.

Remove pork from the slow cooker and shred the meat using two forks. Return shredded pork to the slow cooker, and stir to combine with juices.

Spread the inside of both halves of hamburger buns with butter. Toast buns, butter-side down, in a skillet over medium heat until golden brown. Spoon pulled pork into toasted buns.

Baby Back Ribs

For the dry rub:

  • 1/2 c. brown sugar 125 mL
  • 2 tsp. sweet paprika 10 mL
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder 5 mL
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly groundblack pepper 2 mL
  • 1 tbsp. kosher salt 15 mL
  • 1 tsp. instant espresso powder, optional 5 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. ground allspice 1 mL
  • 1 tsp. chipotle powder, optional 5 mL
  • 2 slabs pork baby back ribs

For the braising liquid and barbecue glaze:

  • 1 c. hard apple cider 250 mL
  • 2 tbsp. apple cidervinegar 30 mL
  • 2 tbsp. Worcestershiresauce 30 mL
  • 1 tbsp. honey 15 mL

Add all the dry rub ingredients to a bowl and mix thoroughly. Rub mixture evenly all over each rack of ribs, making sure to coat top and bottom. Place ribs, single layer, on a rimmed baking sheet or in a roasting pan and let sit, covered, in the refrigerator for one hour.

Meanwhile, place liquid ingredients in a small bowl.

Remove ribs from the refrigerator. Heat oven to 250 F (120 C). Pour braising liquid into the pan with the ribs. Wrap tightly with heavy-duty foil and place in oven. Cook for two and a half hours.

Remove pan from oven, discard foil and pour or spoon the braising liquid into a medium saucepot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a vigorous simmer and let cook until liquid reduces by half and becomes a syrupy consistency, 20 to 30 minutes.

Preheat broiler. Brush the glaze on top of each rack of ribs. Place ribs under the broiler until the glaze begins to caramelize, one to two minutes. Slice and serve with remaining glaze on the side.

Mushroom Bourguignon

Mushrooms can become rubbery if not cooked properly. That is why they are sautéed in advance and added at the end of making this stew.

Sauté them in olive oil until tender and set aside to add later. Also, they cannot be successfully frozen so don’t make a double batch to put some away. This will keep in the refrigerator for two days.

  • 4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil divided, plus more if needed 60 mL
  • 2 lb. mixed mushrooms such as cremini, portobello or shiitake cut into thick slices or quartered 1 kg
  • 2 c. pearl onions,peeled 500 mL
  • 4 medium shallots or 1 large yellow onion, sliced thinly
  • 2 large carrots, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp. tomato paste 30 mL
  • 1 1/2 c. full-bodiedred wine 375 mL
  • 2 c. mushroom or vegetable stock 500 mL
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp. flour 15 mL
  • 1 tbsp. oil 15 mL
  • polenta, egg noodles or mashed potatoes, for serving
  • chopped flat-leaf parsley for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C).

In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot with a lid, heat two tablespoons (30 mL) olive oil over medium-high heat. Stir in half the mushrooms and let sear for three to four minutes without moving them around too much. Transfer to a large plate and adding another tablespoon of oil, repeat with the remaining mushrooms and pearl onions and transfer to the plate when they browned. If your pot isn’t very large, do this in three batches.

Lower the heat and add another tablespoon (15 mL) of oil to the pan. Add the shallots, carrots, garlic, thyme sprigs and season with one teaspoon (5 mL) salt and one teaspoon (5 mL) freshly cracked black pepper. Sauté until shallots are softened about four to five minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for one minute. Add the wine, stock, bay leaves and another pinch of salt. Bring to a very gentle simmer.

In a small bowl, mix flour with the oil until you have a paste with no lumps. Add it into the wine sauce and stir well to combine. Place the reserved pearl onions and mushrooms, with their juices, into the pan and let the mixture come back to a simmer.

Place the pan in the oven, partly covered, for 30-40 minutes or until sauce has thickened.

Taste and add more salt and pepper, if necessary. Serve warm over creamy polenta, egg noodles, cauliflower mash, mashed potatoes or cooked grains. Garnish with chopped parsley.

How to peel pearl onions

With a paring knife, cut off the tip of the onion opposite the root end. Cook in boiling water two minutes. Drain. Let stand until cool enough to handle. Squeeze each onion gently at root end. The onion will pop right out of its skin. Slice off remaining roots, if desired.

Sarah Galvin is a home economist, teacher and avid supporter of local food producers. She has been a market vendor, grew up on a farm in southeastern Saskatchewan and is a member of TEAM Resources.

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