Time for summer braising

Time for summer braising

This sounds totally counter-intuitive as we melt in Sydney's humidity, but no, we haven't gone troppo (yet). In fact, this is an excellent suggestion. 

Why cook beef osso buco or ribs or lamb shanks in January?

The idea of turning on the oven when the mercury's up at 30 degrees with humidity over 80% seems totally bonkers. Cooking the turkey was bad enough, why would you turn the oven on again before March???

But have you ever dined outside on a fragrant summer evening, enjoying melt-in-your-mouth osso buco braised in white wine and broth, topped with a zesty gremolata, the juices flavouring a delicate risotto and a crisp salad filled with summer's abundance? 

Or perhaps you tucked into an unctuous dish of sweet lamb shanks braised with loads of lemon juice, oregano, thyme, garlic and olive oil sprinkled with feta and fresh oregano? 

Braising cuts and slow-cooking aren't just heavy, comforting antidotes for the cold weather. Here's why.

Flavour, flavour, flavour
Activity equals flavour, so hard-working shoulders, necks and legs yield the most delicious cuts of meat - brisket, osso buco, shanks, ribs. Sure, they might need a bit more cooking time to soften and melt all that delicious connective tissue but the rewards are so worth it. All year round.

Eat it all
Demand for these cuts drops off in the warmer months, but animals still have legs in summer and they still need to be used. As whole animal butchers and ethical omnivores, we mustn't waste a scrap.

Turn one meal into two...or three 
Slow cooking is easy but it takes time and energy (yours and the planet's resources) so make a goodly amount, eat your fill and pop the rest in the freezer for later. Do the work for two meals, once, and save time and money.

Hip pocket 
Secondary cuts are cheaper. That's all.

Light and fresh
We associate these braising cuts with heavy, rich, wintery meals but change a few ingredients and you end up with much lighter dishes that pair beautifully with piles of vibrant summer vegetables. Some suggestions...

  • Lamb shanks: try Greek-style shanks with loads of lemon, thyme, rosemary and olive oil. Like this.
  • Ask us to slice your lamb shank to make a lamb version of osso buco which is delicate and super delicious.
  • Osso buco: a light version as described above. Controversially, without tomato. Like this.
  • Brisket: try our Brisket BBQ Kit - a shortcut for a Texan-style affair. Or try Richie's brisket in broth with egg noodles and greens from our book, The Ethical Omnivore. Recipe here.
  • Ribs: I love Ben and Reagan's recipe for short ribs with noodles and pickled carrots also from our book, The Ethical Omnivore. Recipe here.

Photos: Alan Benson.

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