The Healthy Butcher‘s Queen West storefront. Their other location is on Eglinton Avenue at Avenue Road.
It’s that time of year again. The beautiful colours of autumn have vanished, leaving us with brisk temperatures and the craving for good ol’ comfort food. The delicate flavours we enjoy during the summer lack the oomph that our palates (and padding) require during winter. Enter the magical cooking technique called braising, the technique behind France’s famous coq au vin and boeuf borguignonne and Italy’s osso buco—chef talk for the slow cooking of cheap cuts of meat.
“Braising” sounds like a complicated culinary term, but really all it means is slow cooking in a flavourful liquid. The key is to start with a tough and inexpensive cut of meat—like a beef blade roast, cross cut roast, shanks or brisket or even pork shoulder roast. These cuts aren’t only less punishing on the pocketbook, they are best enjoyed through the braising method. The ultimate cooking pot for braising is an enameled cast iron pot like a Le Creuset; if you don’t have one, any heavy pot will do. Season the meat generously with salt and pepper and sear until browned all over. Remove it and set aside. Toss in chopped onions, celery and carrots (referred to as a mirepoix), then turn the heat down to medium to let the vegetables cook slowly and release their yumminess.
After about five minutes, deglaze with some wine or stock. “Deglazing” is the process of loosening those browned bits (the fond) stuck to the bottom of the pot after searing. Return the meat to the pot and add liquid to come at least three-quarters up the meat—a combination of flavourful stock and wine is perfect. Many recipes call for the addition of water; feel free to throw in spices, fresh herbs, garlic…you are limited only by your imagination.
Bring the liquid to a slow simmer (not a boil!). You can cook it on the stovetop or, if your pot is oven safe, throw it in the oven at 300°F. The meat is ready when it is “fork tender”—if you stick a fork into the meat and try to lift it, the meat won’t hold the fork and will just fall off. Total time: around 2.5 hours. (Hint: The meat will get much tougher during the cooking process before it gets tender; never fear, once the internal temperature is high enough it will fall apart.)
Our mothers may not have known the science behind their pot roast but it was still magic. At what point in history did the tradition of a Sunday pot roast with the family disappear? I think it should be mandatory.
Mario Fiorucci is the proprietor of The Healthy Butcher. He is also the founder of RealFoodToronto.com, Toronto’s newest and freshest source for Real Food, where you can learn about cooking and enjoy the food delivered to your door. Mario writes the Meet Your Meat column for KingWest.This article originally appeared in that magazine.
The Healthy Butcher will be bringing its meat and more (including Alba Lisa gourmet food products!) to the Gluten Free Garage!
Local author and artist Cybèle Young‘s latest children’s book about one of our favourite things—food! Come meet her and buy her book at the Children’s Art Studio Pop-Up at the Gluten Free Garage this Sunday afternoon!
I tried to take just a few bites.
A little mid-day pick-me-up.
Chocolate, caramel, pecans! It’s hard to believe that this ooey-gooey goodness contains no dairy, eggs or cholesterol. Best of all, it’s made in a gluten-free facility.
It was love at first bite.
Another one bites the dust.
Spice it up!
Arvinda’s Indian Spice Blends is an all-natural line of cooking masalas and unique spice blends derived from family recipes. Arvinda Chauhan developed these spice blends to help time-pressed home cooks prepare quick and easy authentic Indian meals. She initially sold her curry masala to her cooking school students in small pouches and jars, and soon her unique blends gathered a loyal following. Arvinda’s blends are all gluten free and contain no oils, additives, preservatives, dairy, nuts or MSG.
As an added bonus, most of the products (except for the Garam and Chai masala) contain turmeric, an orange-coloured spice from India that is bestowed with many health benefits. Arvinda’s daughter Preehan Chauhan, who along with her brother Paresh runs Arvinda’s retail line, touts turmeric as “India’s super-spice used for centuries all over the subcontinent.” She adds, “Many Ayurvedic home remedies use turmeric, as its health benefits are multifold! It’s an anti-inflammatory and powerful antioxidant, it aids in digestion, purifies and detoxifies the blood and also has antibacterial functions. This is why we say when you eat a curry, you’re healing yourself inside and out!” (Chicken Curry recipe to follow…)
Since 1993, spice girls Arvinda and Preena have been serving up a variety of premium Indian cooking classes. Voted by blogTO one of the top 10 cooking schools in Toronto, Arvinda’s healthy, easy-to-follow recipes make it easy to create home-style Indian meals. And check out the online video demos of classic Indian recipes! Arvinda’s also leads guided walking tours of Little India.
Arvinda’s Spice Blends are available online and at retail stores and specialty food shops across Toronto.
You can also spice up your life with Arvinda’s at the Gluten Free Garage on November 11th!
Read on if you want to make classic chicken curry…
All that glitters is gluten free.
Lily’s 1st Halloween, October 2006
Now she can spell her own name. And eat gluten-free chicken sausages that she says are “stupendous!”
Food play courtesy of Mark’s Nearly Famous Gourmet Sausages! 100% natural with no fillers or preservatives.
Franny is five.
For her birthday, we partied like it’s 1999.
Cupcakes with her class at school. A Barbie cake from Goodbye Gluten. More cupcakes at her party. And a homemade Hello Kitty cake at her Bubby’s house.
OK, we’ll admit, we went overboard this year because we were eager to try out different baked goods from some of the exhibitors who will be at the Gluten Free Garage. The best gluten-free bakers in town are coming to this event! For a list of the who’s who, check out our Exhibitors page.
Now back to the birthday girl.
Franny at school with her cupcake from The Wheat Free Girls. These babies, just bigger than bite size, were gobbled up by her classmates and teachers.
“The Beatles” – chocolate cake with vanilla coconut butter cream – were so much more than a pretty package. They were evidence that happiness is a cupcake.
“The Doors” – vanilla cake with chocolate butter cream – rocked Franny’s world.
This way to Franny’s party at The Children’s Art Studio!