Ah. The crisp air of fall has returned in the mornings which means “cuffing” season is upon us. Cuffing season represents everything that is wrong with love, relationships, and dating in America today.Primarily practiced on the East coast, the idea is that in the colder winter months you find someone to past the time with and as soon as it gets warm you release them and yourself back into the dating pool to roam free and wild. It is very common around this time to received hey stranger texts from people you forgot existed.
I clearly don’t have enough time in this blog to truly explain why this idea of impermanence within intimate relations is a blaring sign of our impatience and lack of commitment as young Americans overall, or the general problem of thinking that committing means losing your individual freedom. Instead I would like to indulge in the notion of this ridiculous season. As a chef cuffing season marks braising season. A cooking technique that if mastered and used for someone will ensure you shall be properly “cuffed” this winter.
Braising is a technique that takes time, but not so much effort. It’s good for those of us on a budget because it can turn a tough piece of meat into soft tender chunks. If you don’t have time to leave a pot in the oven or on the stove for hours consider investing in a crock-pot to safely cook your food while you tend to other things.
Basic Steps for Braising
Season. Sear. Saute. Simmer.
- Season meat with salt/ spices.
- Sear using medium-high heat the meat on all sides to get color. If you are advanced in cooking practices cut your veggies as you sear. Do not burn the meat!! The bottom crust that is made by the meat searing is your first layer of flavor. Sear in small batches and do not overcrowd pan, which will create moisture and not get the color you desire.
- Saute the veggies until translucent. Make sure to pick up all the bits of goodness the meat has left behind. Add broth or water.
- Simmer long and low. If the pot you have seared in is big enough to add the meat back into use it. If not place the meat, veggies and liquid into a baking dish or crock-pot. Place in a low heated oven 325 (ideal) or simmer on stove 4-6 hours. Time needed to cook will be dependent on the protein.
Now that you understand the basics here is a simple recipe
MAKE THIS MONTH: APPLE BRAISED SHORT “CUFFING” RIBS
-slightly sweet but savory melt in your mouth deliciousness-
WHAT YOU NEED
3-4 Short Ribs (I’ve recently come to love boneless, same flavor, less work, more meat)
½ Onion chopped roughly
1 Large Apple, chopped roughly
1 Clove Garlic chopped
2 Stalks of Celery chopped
1 Tablespoon of Soy Sauce
1 Cup of Apple Juice
Broth or Water to cover
1 large sauté pan and a baking dish/crock pot or 1 stew pot
- Season the meat VERY WELL with A LOT of salt, when you think you’ve put too much put more.
- Chop the onion, celery, apple, garlic if you are advanced do this which you sear meat.
- Place a bit of olive oil in the pan and heat. When hot place the meat in and cook for about 2 minutes on each side. When you sear the meat you want to hear a sizzle, but do not want to see too much smoke. The idea, again, is to trap moisture inside the meat.
- As meat cooks remove and place on a plate OR if using a baking dish directly into the dish or crock-pot.
- After meat is done add all the chopped veggies and thyme into the pan used to sear. Using a wooden spoon scrape the bottom left over meat crust as you saute the vegetables.
- Once the vegetable looks cooked down (about 5-10 minutes) add soy sauce, apple juice and broth or stalk and bring to a simmer. Taste this mixture and season with salt if needed.
- Pour the vegetable mixture over the short ribs in the baking dish or place the short ribs back into the pot.
- Cover and place in the oven to simmer at 325 (best option) or leave on stove on very, very low or put in crockpot. Boneless short ribs are typically soft enough in about 3-4 hours. The longer you let them cook the more they will fall apart.
- If you are a saucy person make a quick and delicious (although not technically proper) sauce by using liquids from the meat juices. Add a slurry or equal parts (1TB-1TB) water and cornstarch. Heat to make thick. Season accordingly.
There you have it simple short ribs. It’s so easy even a man can do it. Boil sum rice or potatoes and broccolini and you have a complete semi fancy (depending on your plating) meal. Remember you can use the technique for anything, chicken, lamb, etc. I encourage you to find your own spice blends and flavor combos that make you happy. Perhaps add a bit of white wine to a chicken braise, or diced tomatoes and carrots to lamb. You cannot go wrong if you follow the simple steps and your own instincts.
Cooking is the way to someone’s heart. Whether you are focused on catching or keeping showcasing your culinary skills will always give you the extra edge. Nothing is as satisfying when you have been struggling in the “wintry mix” as a hearty meal before you hop into bed with your winter “cuffee” and uh read, of course. Heck you may even hold on to them for life….or nah.