cover image How to Braise

How to Braise

Michael Ruhlman. Little, Brown, $25 (148p) ISBN 978-0-316-25413-7

In the introduction of this vibrant primer on the art of braising, prolific cookbook author Ruhlman (How to Roast) notes, "There is pleasure to be had in the aroma of floured meat sizzling in hot fat." Anyone who shares that sentiment will want to dive into this handy guide, and anyone without a Dutch oven would be well advised to purchase one along with the book. Ruhlman provides a 12-page overview of the basics, exploring proper searing techniques and the wide world of braising liquids, from beer to milk. Refreshingly, the recipe count is not overwhelming. There are a mere 20 dishes, most accompanied with succulent color photos by Ruhlman's wife, Donna Turner Ruhlman. Recognizable classics with French overtones include osso buco, braised lamb shanks, and beef stew, and there are a few intense international dishes as well, such as North African lamb tagine. Even the lowly turkey leg gets a royal treatment, served with leek and sage bread pudding. Less delightful is the typography used for the instructions, with every verb distractingly in bold-faced capital letters. "SALT and PEPPER the shanks," yells the osso buco recipe, belaying its delicate nature. (Feb.)