05 January 2011
Braised in red wine
I had halfway been planning on making "braised in red wine" the theme for christmas dinner. Instead, we ate hundreds of snacks--bagels, hummus, breadsticks, pickles, olives, and raw veg--all day. The cooking wine just had to wait.
Incidentally, you know the new compact box wines that have been coming out over the past few years? They are the best possible candidates for cooking wines, and especially red cooking wines. They're cheap, light, and fresh for weeks on end. All hail the vacuum pack! Red wine braise for all!
Cabbage braised in red wine
relatively tart apple
salt, pepper, thyme
First, put on a small pot of water to boil. Shred as much cabbage as you want to eat. For the two of us, this meant half a cabbage. You can use any kind of cabbage you want here; I used the standard green, though it turned a lovely purple in the wine.
When the water boils, dump in your cabbage. Blanch for a minute or two, then drain.
While all this is going on, heat up a large saute pan. Dice half a red onion, a few cloves of garlic, a carrot, and a stalk or two of celery, and soften them in olive oil. While you're waiting for them to cook, core and finely julienne/grate half an apple. Eat the other half.
When the initial mirepoix has softened, add the cabbage, apple, a bay leaf, and roughly equal amounts of red wine and water. I used about a cup and a half of each. Salt and thyme it up as well. Bring the business to a boil, lower to a simmer, and let cook on medium-low for about twenty to thirty minutes.
When the wine and water have reduced to a delicious syrup, and the vegetables are thoroughly cooked, season with lots of pepper. Maybe add a little more salt as well. Voila!
Great; vegetables. What else?
I had made a big pot of beans in broth (i.e. water) in prep for white bean/carrot soup, but instead we ended up gradually using the carrots for all kinds of other business. Instead, I decided to pan-fry the beans in spicy olive oil, for a sort of minimalist riff on Heidi's panfried corona beans/the crusty white beans and chard from her cookbook, Super Natural Cooking. This was definitely a great idea.
You can totally make the beans and the cabbage at the same time. No problem.
Crusty spicy nice white beans
cooked white beans
Heat another saute pan; dice up a big nice handful of garlic cloves and hot peppers. Soften the vegetables in a little more olive oil than usual. (The beans will soak up a good bit of oil and spice, so you can use a little more of everything than usual, really.) When things are looking wilted but not brown, add a single layer of well-drained white beans. If you can leave a little space in the pan, you should; this will let the beans cook more easily.
Add some salt and pepper, toss well to coat, and let everything sit and cook. Try not to move the beans for at least three or four minutes, okay? You want them to develop a nice golden-brown crispy texture. When this is well on its way, use a spatula to flip over big swaths of bean business. When both sides of your beans are golden brown, taste them. Are they good? Great. Correct the seasoning, throw in a handful of parsley, and you're done.
Put it on your plate and eat it with a fork. Hooray!