Trust me when I say I’m well acquainted with winters that overstay their welcomes. You name it, I’ve experienced it. Spring snowstorms, hail and freezing rain, brief warm-ups followed by devastating cold snaps, wind so strong and frigid your tears freeze to your cheeks.
Believe it or not, I miss the long and often harsh, winters in part for the eventual transformation into spring. The beginnings of growth in everything, flowering bulbs poking through the damp earth to explode in a rainbow of colors, the little cheeping birds that serenade you from the bushes, that beautiful soft light, the smell of fresh dirt and a coming rain shower, a million different colors of green.
When my grandma called to report falling snow after having enjoyed several mild, gorgeous days, I knew just what she felt — annoyance, and a bit of defeat. I thought it would be nice to do a post for everyone in her situation.
So as the last of your snow vanishes and the sun’s ray gain strength, embrace the joy of a new season by bidding farewell to the last. Slip back into those woolly socks, stoke a crackling fire, and relish one last cozy meal.
Here braising beef is slowly simmered in a flavorful liquid that includes sherry, soy sauce and beef stock infused with an aromatic blend of ginger, garlic, red chilli pepper, five spice and star anise. Cooked long and low in a Dutch oven, the beef emerges succulent and fork-tender.
Basmati or Jasmine rice will soak up and plump in the flavorful sauce, though a tangle of noodles underneath would do just as well. As a nod to spring, I chose to serve it with a side of brown butter-balsamic roasted asparagus
A hearty yet vibrant dish just right in the dead of winter to warm you from the inside out, or in the just emerging spring as the last of your cold weather meals. (Or like us, in the simulated cold — 90° F outside with the air-conditioning running.)
Chinese-Style Braised Beef One-Pot with Rice [serves 6]
3-4 T vegetable or grapeseed oil
6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
a thumb-size piece fresh ginger, about 2 to 3″-long, peeled and grated on a microplane
1 bunch spring onions or scallions, sliced
1 red chilli, deseeded and thinly sliced (we popped 1 dried red chilli in whole)
3 lbs braising beef, such as chuck, brisket or round, cut into 1″ chunks
2 T AP flour, well seasoned with salt and black pepper
1 t Chinese five-spice powder
2 whole star anise
2 t light muscovado sugar (or use light brown sugar or turbinado)
3 T Chinese cooking wine, such as Shaoxing, or dry sherry
3 T dark soy sauce, plus more to serve (we used regular soy sauce)
2 c beef stock
Cooked Basmati rice, to serve (or Jasmine rice or thick noodles, such as Udon)
Heat 2 T of the oil in a large, shallow Dutch oven. Fry the garlic, ginger, onions and chilli 3 minutes until soft and fragrant. Remove to a plate; set aside.
Toss beef chunks in the seasoned flour, add 1 T more oil to the pan, and then brown the meat in batches, adding the final 1 T oil if you need to. Each batch should take about 5 minutes to brown properly. Remove beef to a plate; set aside. Heat oven to 300° F.
Add the five-spice powder and star anise to the pot, add in the gingery mix, and then fry 1 minute until the spices are fragrant. Add the sugar, then the browned beef; stir until combined. Keep the heat high, then splash in the wine or sherry, scraping up any meaty bits that may have stuck to the bottom of the pot.
Pour in the soy sauce and stock (it won’t cover the meat completely), bring to a simmer, then tightly cover, transfer to the preheated oven and cook 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring the meat halfway through. When done, the meat should be very soft, and any sinewy/fatty bits should have melted away. Season with more soy sauce, if desired. (At this point, you can chill and freeze the beef in an airtight container for up to 1 month.)
Nestle the beef in a couple spoonfuls of the rice, ladling more sauce over top.
Adapted from BBC Good Food