Braised Pork with Citrus, Star Anise and Dried Chilies

The other day, in the middle of realizing I had nothing in the fridge except for yogurt, cheese and a couple of stray sage leaves, I decided that it was time to make something of sustenance and get my braise on.

I'd like to kiss whoever is responsible for creating and developing the process of braising. It's pure culinary genius - a cheap cut of meat, some flavorful herbs, spices and vegetables and a little bit of water or stock, cover and just let it go - low and slow, baby. Letting all of those flavors seep deeply into the meat and gently heating it until the meat doesn't have the energy to cling to the bone anymore. Once this happens, the meat is pulled from the oven and set aside to rest until it's cool enough to be handled.

In my mind, there are two results of a good braise. The first being obvious - a huge Tupperware container of pulled meat at the ready, to be tossed with hearty grains, mixed with fresh vegetables or melted with cheese and sandwiched between slices of bread. The second, and my personal favorite, an apartment that is filled with the aroma of slowly braising meat, soaking up all of the intended flavors. I don't know what it is about the scent of braising, it just makes me feel like I'm curled up beside a roaring fire; it's instantly relaxing and comforting.

There really is no defined recipe for this braise and that's another bonus of the whole process, I literally just tossed spices from my pantry (star anise, ground ginger, cumin, smoked paprika, dried chilie, etc.) into a skillet, toasted them a bit and then coated the meat, which in this case was pork. I made a simple marinade of citrus zest and Dijon mustard and poured it on top along with some water. The meat went into a low, 300 degree oven and stayed there for six hours. The pork had a great citrusy-sweet anise flavor with some spice and heat that rushed in at the end. If you haven't braised before, give it a try. Pick a chilly day, an inexpensive cut of meat (brisket, short ribs, pork shoulder, etc..) flavor it with whatever you have on hand and then just let it go in the oven for hours. You'll reap the benefits of having tender, flavorful ready-to-eat meat on hand for days..if it lasts that long!


In and Around Town said...

Great combination of spices!

Michelle Collins said...

Agreed. I don't even eat meat, but this looks fabulous!

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