Braising

Applejack-Braised Pork

It’s harvest time across America. My favorite childhood memories of the farm involved riding in a combine during corn harvest. It’s mesmerizing. I hit the jackpot last week at work, accompanying a journalist on a harvest ride-along.

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When you grow up in an ag family, fall is just as synonymous with harvest as picking apples or watching football. And when the weather turns chilly, I turn to slow cooking.

This pork goes great with so many things — sauteed apples, root vegetables, roasted cauliflower, or polenta, to name a few.

Happy harvest!

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Applejack-Braised Pork Loin
Serves about 5

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 pound boneless pork loin
Salt and pepper
2 shallots, chopped
1/3 cup Applejack or other apple brandy
1 1/2 cups beef stock or broth (or try apple cider)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a 1.5 quart Dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat. Add oil. Season pork with salt and pepper. Sear pork on all sides, about 8-10 minutes. (If necessary, cut meat into 3-4 pieces and work in batches.) Place meat on a platter.

Add shallots to pan; cook 3-5 minutes until soft and translucent. Remove from heat. Deglaze the pan by pouring in brandy and scraping up the browned bits. Return pan to heat. Add pork and stock. The meat will not be completely submerged. Heat to a simmer.

Cover pot with lid and transfer to oven. Cook until fork-tender, about 2 hours, turning meat halfway through. Place meat on a platter. Let sit for 10 minutes. Shred with a fork. Spoon pan sauce over meat.

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Red Wine-Braised Short Ribs

A few years ago, Sunday Suppers became a tradition among my friend circle. About once a month, we’d gather at someone’s house, usually on Sunday nights (though not always). We all liked to cook, and some of us have big egos and like to be the center of culinary attention (ahem). We set up a rotating schedule which allowed everyone to take a turn in the kitchen, sharing both the responsibility and the glory. We would eat, drink wine, and talk and laugh for hours. Sometimes these dinners would accompany field trips: wineries, farms, orchards, museums, movies, Target.

This is how friends become family.

Sometimes, though, life gets in the way. Condos get purchased, jobs change, schedules get busy, best friends move to Atlanta… until one day you realize there hasn’t been a Sunday Supper  in months.

When I decided to reignite my Sunday Supper tradition, it was only fitting to go back to the last recipe we’d made. The faces around my table had changed, but the sentiment is the same: friends sharing a meal, telling stories, and laughing into the night.

These short ribs take a long time, but are relatively hands-off and difficult to mess up. I wasn’t paying enough attention at the butcher’s counter and ended up with boneless short ribs. Both bone-in and boneless work well; if you go boneless, you can probably cut back to 4 1/2 pounds and still have 6 generous servings.

Pat the ribs dry with paper towels, then generously season with kosher salt and pepper.

Pat the ribs dry with paper towels, then generously season with kosher salt and pepper.

Sear the ribs in batches, browning all sides.

Sear the ribs in batches, browning all sides.

Cook the onions, celery and vegetables in the pan drippings.

Cook the onions, celery and vegetables in the pan drippings.

Serve ribs over mashed potatoes, and top with sauce.

Serve ribs over mashed potatoes, and top with sauce.

Red Wine-Braised Short Ribs

From Bon Appetit

6 servings

5 pounds bone-in beef short ribs, cut crosswise into 2″ pieces
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 medium onions, chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 750-ml bottle Cabernet Sauvignon
10 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
8 sprigs thyme
4 sprigs oregano
2 sprigs rosemary
2 fresh or dried bay leaves
1 head of garlic, halved crosswise
4 cups reduced-sodium beef stock

Preheat oven to 350°. Season short ribs with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Working in 2 batches, brown short ribs on all sides, about 8 minutes per batch. Transfer short ribs to a plate. Pour off all but 3 Tbsp. drippings from pot.

Add onions, carrots, and celery to pot and cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until onions are browned, about 5 minutes. Add flour and tomato paste; cook, stirring constantly, until well combined, 2-3 minutes. Stir in wine, then add short ribs with any accumulated juices. Bring to a boil; lower heat to medium and simmer until wine is reduced by half, about 25 minutes. Add all herbs, garlic, and stock. Bring to a boil, cover, and transfer to oven.

Cook until short ribs are tender, 2–2 1/2 hours. Transfer short ribs to a platter. Strain sauce from pot into a measuring cup. Spoon fat from surface of sauce and discard; season sauce to taste with salt and pepper. Serve in shallow bowls over mashed potatoes with sauce spooned over.