Simply Seasonal: Braise your way to comfort food, Eagle County |

Simply Seasonal: Braise your way to comfort food, Eagle County

Sue Barhamnewsroom@vaildaily.comEagle County CO, Colorado
Special to the Daily/Sue Barham

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado Braising is a terrific way to take an inexpensive cut of meat and extract the maximum flavor. Many cuts of beef are simply not suited to our healthy quick fix with the grill. Top blade roast, chuck eye roast, seven bone roast, ribs, brisket, shanks and short ribs are widely available and benefit from a long slow braise in the oven, on the stove top or in a crock pot. The all-American pot roast typically braises one of these cuts to produce a family favorite. Jeremy Kittelson, Avondales executive chef, describes the process: Braising combines moist and dry heat to break down the connective tissue over a period of a few hours. The collagen is released, becomes gelatinous and is then reabsorbed into the meat. The result is a tender, flavorful meal. Jeremys steps to perfectly braise meat is below. He adds that the trick is in planning a little bit ahead to create a meal that is pure comfort food.Two days before serving:Season the meat with salt and pepper.Coarsely chop carrots, celery and onions and place with the meat in a Ziplock bag. Add red wine to the bag and allow to marinate in the refrigerator overnight.One day before serving:Remove the meat from the marinade, and reserve the marinade. Allow meat to come to room temperature.Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a heavy, shallow pan or Dutch oven. Brown meat in the pan on medium-high heat. Remove from pan. Pour off the oil.Deglaze the pan by pouring in the reserved marinade. Scrape any pieces of meat that are stuck to the pan and stir. Add cooking liquid (water, stock, wine, juice or some combination) and bring to a boil. Place the meat back in the pan; the liquid should not quite cover the meat. The meat should look like islands. Remove some liquid if necessary. Liberally season with salt and pepper. Place a piece of parchment paper atop the meat to create a convection effect and prevent the top from drying outCover the pan and place it on the middle of a rack in an oven that has been pre-heated to 300 degrees. Cook for 4 to 5 hours. Meat should be tender and have texture. Internal temperature should be 160 degrees.Allow to cool in the pan juices and refrigerate overnight. Meat will continue to absorb the juices.On serving day:Take the braised meat from the roasting pan. Reheat gently to serving temperature Serve glazed or with gravy made from pan juices, reduced to thicken. Try out this technique for Jeremys delicious, melt-in-your-mouth spare rib dish. At Restaurant Avondale he browns and braises the ribs using this technique, then serves them on a bed of roasted winter veggies and tops them off with a tangy pickled kohlrabi. Not a common vegetable in American cuisine, kohlrabi is widely used in Central Europe and Asia. It is still patiently waiting to be discovered in this country. If you cant find kohlrabi, substitute radishes, as the sharp spiciness is the perfect complement.

8 each beef short ribs or pork spare ribs1 onion, coarsely chopped2 carrots, coarsely chopped2 ribs of celery, coarsely chopped1 leek, coarsely chopped1 sachet (thyme, bay leaf and black peppercorns)2 cups red wine3 quarts stock (beef for beef ribs or chicken stock for pork)Salt and pepper to tasteUse the braising technique described above.

1/2 cup cider vinegar2 tablespoons Molasses2/3 cup maple syrup1/2 cup Dijon mustardCaribe chili flakesSalt and pepper to tasteBoil the vinegar to reduce by half, to a syrup consistency. Add in the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Add the ribs to the glaze and turn to coat.

1 pound sliced kohlrabi (or radishes), 1/8 inch thick rounds1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt1 cup champagne vinegar1 cup water3 cloves of garlic1 lemon, zested2 tablespoons sugar1/4 teaspoon black peppercorns1 tablespoon of fresh ginger, sliced1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakesSalt the kohlrabi with half of the kosher salt for 1 hour.Combine the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Shut the mixture off and allow to come to room temperature. Pour the pickling liquid over the kohlrabi, cover and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.The kohlrabi is ready to use and will last for one month refrigerated.Sue Barham is the marketing director for Restaurant Avondale and Larkspur Restaurant. Avondale recently opened in The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa in Avon. The restaurant features a West Coast inspired, seasonal menu and the chefs use time-honored cooking methods, such as slow roasting and braising, to create simple dishes rich in flavor. The wine program focuses on small production wines to compliment the straightforward cuisine. For more information visit

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