Don’t Braise Me, Bro!

It poured rain, and got quite chilly in that raw, put-extra-layers-on way that is so inappropriate for the very end of May. So my vague idea for garden-stuffed summer rolls went right out the window (or would have, if there had been an open window.) Instead, I thought that some hearty beans would be about right, so I soaked some of the local black beans and went back to work. When I came in, wheels had turned, and what was going to be very humble got a tetch less so.

The freezer really put out this time; a bag of frozen mirepoix, a pint of lamb pho, and a lamb shank from the Easter leg all tumbled forth. A quick foray into the garden gave me a pile of herbs and our first turnip. My impatience with winter has really paid off- putting all this stuff in so early was a little risky, but the turnips (among other things) laughed at the cold and grew like crazy. Radishes are great, because they offer the first non-green color, but they’re small. The beets are a way off yet, so we’ll be contenting ourselves with these in the mean time.

So I took some of yesterday’s smoked duck fat and browned the shank in it, then added the mirepoix, garlic, turnip, herbs (fresh oregano, rosemary, chives, parsley, cilantro) red wine, beans, spices and broth and clamped the lid on the pressure cooker. Man, do I love this appliance. In 40 minutes flat the beans were tender, and the lamb fell off the bone when I looked at it. The flavors were rich and deep like it had sat in a 200˚ oven for six hours. While it was hissing quietly to itself, I steamed and mashed some sweet potatoes, then put the stew on top. There are so many other ways I could have spun this by using different pantry staples- Moroccan, Indian, Southeast Asian- but right down the middle worked pretty perfectly this time around.

9 comments to Don’t Braise Me, Bro!

  • lisa

    I think I need a pressure cooker. Beans in 40 minutes would be amazing.

  • Jen of A2eatwrite

    Looks wonderful. I can’t get over what you put together.

    It’s kind of one of those days here today. I’m just doing something pedestrian, though.

  • Hunter Angler Gardener Cook

    Did John Kerry drone on and on while you made this dish?

    Braising? In May? You a crazy man. Nuna dat being done down here Cali way. No braises for us until October. Wah.

  • We Are Never Full

    oh hell yeah… the weather has sucked arse recently (even as i type this i want to curl up w/ big bowl of this). i can’t wait till i am not desiring warm food again… this spring has been cool and rainy. maybe it’s how it should be? that summer food is really going to taste good when it’s finally time.

    this looks delish and you can really see the red wine. love it. plus, you totally get the obsession one should have w/ their pressure cooker.

  • Zoomie

    I think I need a pressure cooker, too – my Mom had several and used them a lot but I kinda got away from it when she shot the weight on one of hers up through the ceiling…not kidding.

  • peter

    Lisa: It’s so very useful. You should get one.

    Jen: The freezer is my friend. Keeping it stocked is an ongoing mission.

    Hank: Well, it was 55˚ and raining. (Still is, actually.) Soon enough it will be jungle hot.

    Amy: I know, right? I am dying to make summer rolls.

    Zoomie: I believe you. But they’re ever so great.

  • Heather

    My pressure cooker is a 5 gallon, for canning. That’s a lot of beans.

    I wasn’t ready for it to be in the mid-upper 80s yet. Had to start watering, pooey. A braise of beans and lamb still sounds good, though I’d need a biscuit for that.

  • sandwicharchitecture

    i feel a little lame that i am so thoroughly amused by this post title, but i keep saying it to my boyfriend and cracking up. i even got him to say it once. heh.

    that purple is gorgeous! and i am really wishing i had made that beautiful dish of food.

  • peter

    Blanche: Mmmmm… biscuits… I should make those again.

    Rena: It's funny BECAUSE it's lame.

Yours Truly



I'm a painter who happens to also spend a lot of time growing, making, and writing about food. I'm particularly interested in the intersection of frugal peasant cooking techniques and haute improvisation. And I have a really great personality.

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