Monday, December 3, 2007

Braising: The Best Way to Cook with Wine

Tonight, I made Tom Valenti’s lamb shanks to go with the Petite Syrah that I will post about for next week’s Wine Blogging Wednesday #40 brought to us by Wannabe Wino. I will write about the Petite Syrah I drank with my dinner next Wednesday, but today, I want to write about the technique I used to cook the lamb shanks, braising.

Braising is without a doubt my favorite cooking method. As a young professional who lives alone, what I like love about braising is that it’s easy, it's inexpensive, and it fills my tiny studio apartment with wonderful aromas of herbs, wine, stock, meat, and vegetables.

Of course the single best thing about braising is that a braise often requires a cup or two (or even an entire bottle) of wine to be added to the braising liquid. Not only does a braised dish often contain wine, but it also pairs very well with wine. In many ways, a great braised dish is similar to a great wine. It gets better with age (although a braise will age to its full potential after a or two, rather than years). A braised dish is simple, yet elegant. It’s rustic, yet refined. For these reasons, I think that braised meat is the perfect wine food. Forget about using a cheap wine to braise a dish—just crack open something good, pour a glass into the braise, then drink the rest with the meal. It's a match made in heaven.

Every wine lover should have braising in his or her cooking repertoire. It's the perfect hearty dish for winter, so why not braise some meat this weekend? Tom Valenti's lamb shank recipe was delicious, and would be the perfect recipe to start with.

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