Next Up in My New Red Braiser: Short Ribs!

Wine-Braised Short Ribs might be the best thing from your braiser.

Wine-Braised Short Ribs handily contend for best thing from your braiser. Photo credit AustinMathern.

Here’s how to braise short ribs in a braising pan. What? You don’t have a braising pan? Read about the Lodge Color Enamel Cast-Iron Casserole, an inexpensive alternative to the Le Creuset braiser. And if you don’t know what a braising pan is (and how it differs from a Dutch oven), check out this post.

Cooking with Wine. The article in which this recipe appeared. I served as the editor on this publication.

Cooking with Wine. The article in which this recipe appeared. I served as the editor on this publication. A couple years later, I wrote an article on how to braise short ribs, featuring this recipe, on the bhg.com website. See it here.

One of my favorite assignments ever  was serving as the editor to a wine guide put out by the Better Homes and Gardens family of publications. And one of the best things about that piece was getting my über-talented friend Deborah Wagman to write a piece on cooking with wine. Check out the article above to read her evocative descriptions of what wine can do for your cooking.

Quite possibly my favorite assignment to date was serving as an editor/writer on this little newsstand publication. I learned so much!

Quite possibly my favorite assignment to date was serving as an editor/writer on this little newsstand publication. I learned so much!

In it, we included this terrific French method for cooking short ribs. The thyme-perfumed, wine-braised ribs are topped with a mixture of orange peel, parsley, and fresh minced garlic—a take on the Italian spin known as a gremolata. While it originally called for braising in a Dutch oven, I’ve adapted the recipe for the Braiser, plus, I’ve added a few “Bonne Femme” touches—including changing the gremolata to “persillade.” Because this is, after all, a French food blog, and the recipe truly feels more French to me than Italian.

Braised Short Ribs with Orange Persillade
Scroll down for a few step-by-steps. Adapted from the Wine Guide, 2006.

Makes 6 servings.

3          pounds bone-in beef short ribs, cut into 3-inch pieces
1          teaspoon ground thyme
1          teaspoon salt
1/2      teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1          tablespoon olive oil
2          large carrots, chopped
1          medium onion, chopped
1          tablespoon minced garlic
1          cup dry red wine
1          cup low-sodium beef broth
2          cups frozen small whole onions
Orange Persillade (see below)

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Trim fat from ribs. Combine the thyme, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Rub this mixture over the short ribs. (You won’t cover them entirely by any means, but that’s okay. You’re just trying to flavor the meat).

2. In a 3 1/2- to 4-quart braiser, brown the ribs in hot oil over medium-high heat. Remove the ribs and remove all but 1 tablespoon drippings from the pan. Add the carrot and onion to the pan; cook and stir until tender but not brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic; cook until the fragrance is released, but do not brown.

3. Stir in the wine and beef broth; bring to boiling while stirring up any brown bits left in the pan Return the ribs to the Dutch oven; add salt and pepper to taste. Return to boiling.

4. Cover the pan; slide the ribs into the oven and bake about 2 hours or until the ribs are extremely tender, adding the onions during the last 30 minutes of baking. Remove ribs from Dutch oven; cover to keep warm.

5. Skim fat from the cooking liquid. Bring the sauce to boiling and cook until reduced, about 5 minutes. Serve ribs with sauce and sprinkle with the orange persillade.

Orange Persillade: In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons parsley, 2 teaspoons minced garlic, and 2 teaspoons finely shredded orange peel.

A Few Tips:

• Rub the meat with a little ground salt, pepper, and thyme.

I like rubbing a little ground thyme, salt, and pepper into the meat.

 • I love the way the shallow base of the braiser lets you brown a lot of meat without crowding the pan.

French Recipe for Braised Short Ribs

3. Rather than dirtying a plate, I use the top of the braiser for to hold the meat while sauteing the carrot, onions, and garlic.

French method for making short ribs.

 Looking for more information about braising on this site:

Recipes for a Braiser on this website.
The Lodge versus Le Creuset Braiser
What Is a Braiser? What Is a French Oven? Should You Invest
The Braiser Cookbook

 

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Review of Lodge's Color Enamel 3-Quart Cast Iron Casserole: A Braiser by Any Other Name...Is Still a Braiser

Pot-Roasted Chicken with Mushrooms and Chervil, Seven-Bone Pot Roast with Coriander. Top right: The Le Creuset Braiser; bottom right: The Lodge Braiser.

Pot-Roasted Chicken with Mushrooms and Chervil and Seven-Bone Pot Roast with Coriander (both in The Braiser Cookbook). Top right: The Le Creuset Braiser; bottom right: The Lodge Braiser.

September, 2014: There’s a golden sparkle to the sunlight  that feels like fall (my husband, the poet, calls it “the Champagne light of September”). Which is to say, braising season has begun.

I have as my number-one goal in the coming months to test out all of the major braising pans on the market. As you might have read in previous posts, I’m a nut for my Le Creuset Braiser—I have a 3 1/2-quart size and a 5-quart size, and I use them all the time. In fact, every recipe I tested for my my braiser cookbookwas tested in a 3 1/2 Le Creuset Braiser, with always-terrific end results.

But let’s face it. Not everyone can (or wants to) plunk down $250 or more on a pan. That’s why I’m exploring other options. And the first one up is The Lodge 3-Quart Enameled Cast Iron Casserole.* Although they call it a “casserole,” make no mistake: this baby is definitely a braiser. I’ve been cooking with this guy for 2 weeks now, and so far, the Lodge braiser looks and cooks like my Le Creuset Braiser.

I’m going to continue using this all season to see how it holds up, but so far, it’s very promising. Meanwhile, here’s my preliminary report:

Lodge's 3-Quart Enamel-Covered Cast Iron Casserole (i.e. a braiser).

Lodge’s 3-Quart Enamel-Covered Cast Iron Casserole (i.e. a braiser).

About the Company 
Lodge is an American company that has been producing American-made cast-iron pans for years. Their enameled cast-iron pots, however, are made in China. They give pretty compelling reasons for this on their site.

The reviews on Amazonare mostly good, too—it seems the lowest ratings speak to the enamel’s chipping off—but that could happen with any enamel-coated braiser if you take a sharp utensil to it or if you heat it over too high of heat on the stovetop. So if you’re doing that to any enameled cookware, stop it!

Price:
Okay, friends, this is where Lodge is pulling out ahead. The blue Lodge Braiseris currently on Amazon for $69.99.  The similarly styled Le Creuset braisercosts $249.99.

Lodge versus Le Creuset Braisers
My preliminary report is that the Lodge and Le Creuset braisers truly cook the same: You can use them on the stovetop (for browning), then slide them into the oven. The braiser’s wide, shallow base lets you brown lots of meat at once. The wide base also lets the liquid spread out so that the meat truly braises (rather than stews). Yes—the Lodge looks and cooks like a braiser.

Only time will tell if one holds up better than the other over the years. I’ve had the Le Creuset for nearly 10 years–there are some dings in the outside enamel, but that’s totally my fault for roughhousing it in my kitchen.

A few minor differences between the two:

Le Creuset (top) has a deeply domed lid.

Le Creuset (top) has a more deeply domed lid.

• Le Creuset’s top handle (on the lid) stays cooler than the rest of the pan, so I can generally take the lid off without using a hot pad. Lodge’s top (lid) handle is made of metal, which gets warm. But for $180 difference in the price, you might be just fine with using a hot pad.

•  Le Creuset’s lid is more deeply domed. That can give the pan more height when you’re braising something tall like a whole chicken or a pork shoulder roast. But for most stews and braises, such as short ribs, beef pot roasts, chicken pieces, stew meat, cut-up pork and lamb shoulder, etc., the Lodge will be offer plenty of height.

 Le Creuset comes in amazing array of colors. The Lodge braiser is available in blue and red. They’re very beautiful, deep, rich colors, mind you, but if you’re looking for colors like Caribbean, Cassis, or Palm, you’ll have to go the Le Creuset route.

Final Verdict?

Only you can decide if color selection, French pedigree, and the advantages of Le Creuset’s domed lid and cool top handle make enough difference to you to spend $259 versus $69.99. I can assure you that I’m very happy with the Lodge Braiser. While I adore my 3 1/2-quart Le Creuset braiser (a gift from my mother-in-law), I will say that if I had to spend my own money on one or the other, I’d definitely consider the Lodge Braiser—and spend the rest on a great pair of shoes.

Interested? Find out more through these links:

Here are quick links to these products on Amazon, including more reviews of each product.

1. Lodge Color Enameled Cast Iron Covered Casserole, Caribbean Blue, 3-Quart

2. The Le Creuset 3 1/2-Quart Cast Iron Braiser

3. My Braiser Cookbook:

Other links on this website you might enjoy:

What is a Braiser? What is a French Oven? Should You Invest?
How to Cook Chicken in Your Le Creuset Braiser
Braises for the Fall and Winter.
A complete list of recipes in the Braiser Cookbook
Pot-Roasted Chicken with Mushrooms and Chervil

 

 

* Disclosures: I requested and received a sample braiser for testing from the Lodge company. They have not compensated me in any other way. All opinions regarding this and any product on my site are strictly my own. Clicking on a link to an Amazon product helps support this site, without adding to your costs in any way.

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Cherry-Apricot Clafouti: A Great Idea, a Mighty-Fine Recipe, but...

Cherry-Apricot Clafouti, Fresh from the Oven. Looks so promising!

I love cherries. I love apricots. I love clafouti. You’d think I could put them together for one amazing dessert. But alas, it didn’t work out that way.

The problem isn’t the recipe itself–which I’ve made many times. It was, alas, the apricots. The fresh apricots I found at my local supermarket here in Amerique profonde didn’t have any flavor. No amount of rich, golden custard or deeply flavored spirits—or even sugar—could change that.

So, take it from me. As always, buy local fruit if you can (alas, I don’t live the Land of Apricots). If you have to buy trucked-in fruit, buy just one piece. Go out into the parking lot. Taste it, and if it isn’t great, do not put it in your clafouti!

I’ve had fabulous luck with Washington cherries and Colorado Peaches, but the apricots: boo-hoo.

A slice of clafouti. The cherry and the custard were wonderful. Alas, the apricots....

A slice of clafouti. The cherry and the custard were wonderful. Alas, the apricots….

Coincidentally, a reader on my facebook page actually posted this query right as I was putting my clafouti in the oven:
“How do you get around the fact that fruit in the US is picked too soon and therefore has no taste!”

That, my friends, is exactly the problem.

However, please don’t let my saga stop you from making a Cherry-Apricot Clafouti if you can find great apricots. The recipe is great, as long as the fruit is great.

PS: Another reader asked if I thought a Peach-Blueberry Clafouti would work. I’d bet money it would.
Other FAQs:
Would a Cherry-Peach Clafouti work? Yes!
Would a Sour Cherry Clafouti work? I’m not so sure—clafouti itelf isn’t that sweet, so you need sweetness from the fruit to make it taste like….dessert!
How about a plum clafouti? That’s next on my list to test.
• How about a strawberry clafouti recipe? ‘Fraid not! A reader commented below that the strawberries are too soft–too liquidy: They made her clafouti into a mush (her comment is in the comment section below).

Frankly, I think any stone fruit (fruit with a pit in it–cherries, apricots, plums, peaches) or firm berries (such as blueberries) or a combination of such fruits would be lovely, as long as the fruits are fresh, flavorful, and in season. Just make sure that whatever combination of fruits you use adds up to 12 ounces (after peeling, pitting, prepping, etc.). Check out my master recipe for clafouti—just substitute your soft fresh fruit for the cherries.

I want my apricots to be this fresh, this ripe, and this local. (Photo taken in the Drome, France. Photo by Toolmantim via Flickr.

I want my apricots to be this fresh, this ripe, and this local. (Photo taken in the Drome, France. Photo by Toolmantim via Flickr).

For my next trick, I’ll answer the burning question: Can you freeze clafouti? Stay tuned!

 

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