Cooking Whilst Sleeping
Braising is a cooking technique, which I embrace. Whilst I find the process of chopping the mire poix and other flavouring vegetables extremely therapeutic, the most gracious element of this cooking technique is the relative effortlessness. The fact that most of the cooking does not need too much attention but patience allows me time to shower and to nap from the start to the finish of the dish.
I elected to Short Ribs Braised with Chinese Flavours from Simple to Spectacular by Jean-Georges Vongerichten & Mark Bittman for a mid-week dinner on the rationale that I could cook it the day before bedtime, crawl into bed, snuggle up and forget about it. I followed my plan, but my mind refused to shut down. My internal clock woke me up at intervals of 45 minutes (the recipes suggested that the meat should be turned once or twice an hour) and since I was up, I would pad my way down to the oven, take a peek and turn the meat. My plan to cook whilst sleeping hence was a total failure. My only comfort is that the braised short ribs did fall off the bone and smelt phenomenal.
Short Ribs Braised with Chinese Flavours
Peanut oil, ¼ cup
Short ribs, 4 lb
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Onion, 1, peeled and roughly chopped
Garlic, 4 cloves, peeled and smashed
Ginger, ¼ cup, roughly chopped
Sugar, 2 Tbsp
Star anise, 5
Dried chillies, 5
Szechuan peppercorns, 2 Tbsp
Coriander stems, 20, well washed
Shao Hsing, 1 cup
Light soy sauce, ½ cup
Water, 3 cups
Water chestnuts, 12, peeled, washed and quarted
Minced ginger, 2 Tbsp
1. Place 2 Tbsp of the oil in a deep heavy skillet or casserole and turn heat to high. Brown rigs well on all side, seasoning well with salt and pepper as they cook; this process will take about 20 minutes. Remove ribs, pour out and discard fat and wipe pan.
2. Preheat over to 175°C (350°F). Place remaining oil in pan, turning heat to medium-high, add onions, garlic, ginger and sugar. Cook, stirring until the onion is very brown, 10-15 minutes.
Add star anise, chillies, peppercorns and coriander roots; cook, stirring for another minute, then add Shao Hsing, soy sauce and water. Add ribs, cover and put in oven. Cook until meat is very tender and falling from the bone, about 3 minutes, turning the meat once or twice an hour.
3. Transfer the ribs to platter. Strain the vegetables and liquid, pressing hard on the vegetables to extract all of their juices, into another large pan and refrigerate or reheat. Bring to a boil and whisk until slightly reduced then add the ribs, water chestnuts and minced ginger. Heat the ribs through, and adjust seasoning as necessary.
4. Serve with steamy hot rice.
* Recipe Source: Simple to Spectacular by Jean-Georges Vongerichten & Mark Bittman (with slight edits)