It seems like everyone else got as distracted from their braising as I did. Actually, I did a lot of braising but I haven’t managed to post about it. And I’ve been so embarrassed about my total inability to take a decent photo. However, in the final days of braising week…
This is my absolutely favorite braise for winter. And so easy, flexible, and packed with good winter nutrition.
First, the meat: lamb shoulder. Shoulder from pig (Boston Butt), cow (chuck), lamb, goat – it’s all good for braising and braising is exactly what it needs to show its melty, tender potential. I used shoulder chops this week and tossed the bones in the freezer for Scotch broth at some other date. You can use a shoulder roast as well. I’ve even used neck chops – the secret ingredient of Lancashire hotpot.
Next, the flavor. Of course a lot of the flavor comes from the meat itself but it needs a little finesse. Lots of garlic, rosemary, and sage does the trick.
And finally, the veg and beans. Lovely, leafy, green vitamin-packed kale makes this dish something more than just another heavy, meaty winter braise. And if you’ve got an eater who has refused kale before, try this. You won’t recognize the vegetable. Plus, I throw in a can of white beans when I’m lazy. Dried beans go in at the beginning with extra liquid when I’m feeling more virtuous.
A recipe of sorts
1 pound lamb shoulder, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 cup water or white wine (of half and half)
10 cloves garlic, peeled but kept whole
1 large rosemary sprig
3 sprigs of sage
1 large bunch kale, stems and spine removed, then leaves coarsely chopped
1 can white beans, drained
Generously – and I do mean generously – salt and pepper the meat. Brown in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add water or wine, garlic cloves, rosemary, and sage. Bring to a vigorous simmer, reduce heat to a gentle simmer, cover and cook for 90 minutes. Check occasionally to make sure there’s enough liquid, add more if need be. Add kale and beans, and stir into evenly distribute. Cook until kale is wilted and tender, about 10 more minutes.
You don’t want to drown the meat but you don’t want a dry pan – and there’s a huge range of liquid in between that will work just fine, so don’t worry about being exact. That’s the glory of braising. You can serve as is, with rice, or even egg noodles.