I’ve never braised anything before. It’s always seemed a little too hardcore, something best left for the true die hard cooks to do.  I’m more of a recreational cook, not ready for the hard stuff like braising. Oh sure, I’ve made stews. Back in my art school days. And you know what they say–stewing is a gateway method. But that’s where my experimentation ended. Until last night.

Ted Allen’s book had a recipe for red wine braised short ribs that sounded really easy and delicious. It was easy, but I found my first problem with his book. In his attempt to sound really casual, like throwing together a gourmet meal is as easy as tying your shoes, his instructions left out some useful tidbits that a rookie like me could have used. The meat was tender and perfectly cooked, but the whole dish was rather greasy and underseasoned. And I seasoned heavily when the instructions told me to, but it still needed more. And had I ever made a short rib before, maybe I would have thought to do something like trim the fat. I just browned those bad boys and let the wine do the rest. His instructions for serving were also a little vague, they just said to serve it on some buttered egg noodles. Serve it how? Does it get sliced? Or shredded? Or do you just plop those short ribs on top as is? These are extra details I really could have used, since the idea of his book is that people who aren’t proficient chefs can make good food without a lot of stress.

I think this dish needs tweaking, but it has a lot of promise. I’ll probably braise again, now I’m a little hooked. I got to dust off my Le Creuset, which I can never think of a reason to use. So I’ll make this again but try out a few things to get the texture and consistency just right.