Remember a few months ago when I accidentally received two copies of a cookbook I'd edited for Michael Ruhlman? Well, lucky me (and lucky you, as you'll soon see), it happened again! Whoever keeps mistakenly putting my name twice on the publication shipping list, thanks!
Last time it was How to Roast, and this time it's How to Braise. As you have no doubt guessed, this is the beginning of a whole series of slim volumes, each describing a particular technique and providing a couple dozen recipes demonstrating the technique. (Next up: How to Sauté.)
So, what is braising? It's certainly not as well-known a term as roasting or sautéing. Braising involves searing food (usually meat) and then cooking it (usually for a long time) in liquid until it's tender. After the introductory section of the book, which tells you everything you need to know about this technique, the recipe section leads off with the iconic braise, Lamb Shanks. This is a classic example of the wonder of the braise, because you take a rather unappealing-looking cut of meat and turn it into the most elegant, rich, satisfying dish. And that's what Ruhlman find so exciting about braising: It transforms food in a way that most other cooking techniques don't. You're not just browning the meat, you're turning it into something else entirely.
There are recipes for braised beef and chicken and duck legs, but also a few veggies you might not have thought to braise, like radishes and Spanish onions.
As always, Donna Turner Ruhlman's photos throughout are both gorgeous and instructive, so you'll see not only a preview of the finished product, but also how each step in the process ought to look along the way, which is especially helpful for a technique that might be new to you.
Oh, and for those who've asked, yes, the Acknowledgments page is the first thing my family turns to whenever one of "my" books comes in the mail:
Anyhow, thanks to another paperwork error, I'd like to give away my extra copy of this book to one of my (U.S.) readers. Leave me a comment below about anything to do with braising—a recipe you love, a recipe you want to try, a question, anything. Be sure to leave your email address so I can contact you if you're the winner! I'll pick a random comment on Monday at noon (Boston time) and contact the winner for a snail-mail address.