Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Daring Cooks, March 2012: Braising

The March, 2012 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Carol, a/k/a Poisonive – and she challenged us all to learn the art of Braising! Carol focused on Michael Ruhlman’s technique and shared with us some of his expertise from his book “Ruhlman’s Twenty”.

Man, I was excited when I saw that this month's challenge was such a basic technique. That I hadn't yet tried, not really, because, well it takes time, you know? But, like making croissants, the time is one of those false fronted, seemingly imposing buildings. If you see it from the right angle, you see that it is just a big distraction from the truth: braising gives you a delicious, tender meat (if you're using meat) and you don't have to stand over the stove for the entire time. Totally worth it!

All the recipes that were provided for us looked truly delicious. But we had some pork chops in the freezer, so I turned to the ever trustworthy Julia Child. I found a recipe for pork chops and red cabbage braised in red wine that looked pretty promising. I wasn't so sure about the cabbage- I hate to say I haven't had a lot of experience with cooking, eating or even choosing cabbage. I figured, hey, there's red wine in here, I'll try cabbage for that. The resulting dish was truly delicious, although we only had 4 pork chops, so the ratio of pork to cabbage was a little off. It was yummy, but a little too much cabbage for me.

Side note- when this challenge was announced, I told my husband "see I need one of those Le Creuset dutch ovens." Proof he is the best husband ever: "okay, so go buy one." We didn't. But sometime it is just knowing that he supports everything you do that is important. I think the fact that he gets to eat everything I make for these challenges helps a little :)

Pork Chops and Red Cabbage braised in Red Wine (Julia Child)
  • 1 package boneless pork chops (1/2" thick - about 5 chops)
  • 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • Salt & pepper
  • 1/4 lb. bacon
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced carrots
  • 1 cup slice onion
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 lbs (6 or 7 cups) red cabbage, cut into 1/2" slices
  • 2 cups diced tart apples
  • 2 cloves mashed garlic
  • 1/4 tsp ground bay leaf
  • 1/8 tsp clove
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 2 cups good, young red wine (Bordeaux, Chianti)
  • 2 cups beef stock
  • Salt & pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 325 degrees and tie on the apron - It's time to cook with Julia!

Remove the rind (if you get a chunk of bacon) and cut into strips 1 1/2" long & 1/4" across. Simmer for 10 minutes in 1 quart of water. Drain.

Cook the bacon, carrots and onion in the butter slowly in an oven-proof pan for 10 minutes without browning. Stir in the cabbage leaves and when well covered with the butter and vegetables, cook slowly for 10 minutes. Add all additional ingredients. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove. Cover and place in middle of preheated oven. Regulate heat so cabbage bubbles slowly for 3 to 3 1/2 hours. 

Season the pork chops with salt and pepper and brown in 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Add to cabbage, cover and return pan to oven for 1 to 1 1/2 hours more and all the liquid has been absorbed by the cabbage. Taste carefully for seasoning. 

Can be made ahead - this is even better when reheated the next day! Serves 6 people.


  1. 1-that's a good man! 2. This dish seems very Irish, how perfect! 3. I am so in love with Julia right now. :)

  2. Yum! I love how you picked a recipe based solely on the use of wine. Because wine makes everything better! :) Way to be brave and make something with cabbage! I have been trying to expand our veggie fortay a little bit, but haven't done cabbage yet. Also, I agree with you - you need a Le Crueset! They make braising so much more fun! :)

  3. YAY! I have the bestest husband too - when I was asked to host the challenge...I said I wish I had a better camera for the pictures and lo, and behold he bought me the Canon T3 for Xmas - ahhh, what a guy! But Le Creuset rocks, I use mine so much - well worth the big bucks. So next time, he offers take him up on it!

    So glad you enjoyed the challenge - and your dish looks great! Fantastic job!