Tag Archives: living

If You’re Not Slow-Roasting, Are You Really Living?

Every Wednesday night, Bon Appétit food director Carla Lalli Music takes over our newsletter with a sleeper-hit recipe from the Test Kitchen vault. It gets better: If you sign up for our newsletter, you’ll get this letter before everyone else.

Slow-roasting > braising

I came of age as a fancy restaurant cook in the early 2000s, a food era dominated by seared foie gras, truffle butter, and braised short ribs. At that moment, short ribs were a lowly “butcher’s cut” in the process of being rediscovered by professional chefs, who were happy to simmer, glaze, and lacquer them and then sell them at an enormous profit. These ribs were rich, saucy and sticky, and you could eat them with a spoon. Where I worked, we served them on top of a taro root puree loaded with truffle butter—a real twofer!

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If you had told me then that you could slow-roast a thinly cut short rib in a can of coconut milk, I would have have ratted you out to the sous chefs. For years I had witnessed giant vats of short ribs being submerged in a simmering mixture of red wine and beef stock, and I thought that was the best way—maybe the only way—to cook them. I thought those chefs knew best.

Well, turns out those fancy pants French-trained chefs didn’t know what our own Chris Morocco knows, which is that beef short ribs have so much marbling, collagen, and integrity that they can handle all kinds of long stints in the oven, and they don’t need to be covered in liquid in the process. Mon dieu—but it’s true.

This recipe turns the rules of braising upside down for a hands-off method that is easier, more delicious, and texturally more awesome. And it all happens while you do nothing. Here’s how:

Ditch the lidUnlike a standard braise, this low-heat roasting method happens in an unlidded cast-iron skillet, which exposes the meat and the coconut milk to the open air. In the process, the surface of the meat dries out a bit so that you end up with a chewy, glazed exterior, but the gentle oven temperature ensures the ribs stay moist and tender. At the same time, the liquid reduces down to a concentrated, jammy consistency—not unlike the fancy glazes from days of yore, but with a lot less fussing.

coconut milk lede

Use less liquidAll short ribs benefit from a long cook time to transform their tough muscle fibers to shreddable, juicy meat. When you slow-roast, the heat level stays low and gentle, but you don’t need to submerge the meat like you would for a braise. In fact, the amount of liquid —a single can of coconut milk—amounts to a mere puddle in the bottom of the pan. It throws off enough steam to keep the ribs hydrated and mingles with the meat juices to create a (gobsmackingly good) concentrated pan sauce.

Skip the searingBecause the ribs are mostly exposed to the dry heat of the oven, you don’t need to sear them before cooking. (When you make a braise, you could easily spend 20 minutes browning the meat before adding any other ingredients). These ribs spend between five and six hours in the oven, which is plenty of time to let them gradually take on color as their surface is transformed into a chewy bark.

Load up on aromaticsBeef rendang was Morocco’s inspiration for the flavors in this dish, and instead of hinting at it, he went big. For just 13.5 ounces of coconut milk, there’s two whole lemongrass stalks, shallots, garlic, a couple of chiles, a hunk of ginger, and curry powder. As the liquid reduces, the aromatics slowly brown and their essences get bolder. At the same time, any sharp edges are softened by the natural sweetness of the coconut milk and the fats rendering from the ribs.

Sass up the endingWhen I think about those 4-star short ribs, the demi-glace consistency of the pan sauce is what sticks with me—it was so thick, it stuck to the ribs and the dinner plate, too. At the end of the slow-roast, though, you have fall-apart meat with a little chew to it, and a jammy pan sauce rife with tangy aromatics. The flourishy finish is the coconut gremolata that goes on top—a toss-together mix of toasted coconut flakes, fresh lime juice, and fresh cilantro.

It’s oven season: Time to throw a bunch of ribs in a pan and find out if I’m telling the truth.

Get the recipe:

Short Ribs Slow-Roasted in Coconut Milk


Beans, Blankets, and More Carla Lalli Music Is Living for Right Now

BA editors love to shop as much as we love to eat. In our new column We’re Into It, we share our favorite recent finds. First up: food director Carla Lalli Music waxes poetic about fresh figs, cozy wool blankets, and the coolest clogs.

We’ve finally entered the ideal season for entertaining at home. The transition back to work/school reality has evened out, and everyone is settled into their fall routines. Even though the holidays are just around the corner, I love dedicating my weekend days to cooking projects that feed a crowd—braises, slow-roasts, and Sunday soups, or any recipe that I can start early on Sunday afternoons and continue working on into the cozy evening hours.


If You Aren’t Putting Toppings on Your Soup, Are You Really Living?

Soup is delicious and comforting, but it’s not known for being exciting. So often, soup recipes end up feeling like a thrown-together meal of meat, vegetables, beans, noodles, all hanging out in a hot tub of broth. (That sounds like a weird episode of The Bachelor.) But with a few toppings and swirl-ins, it can be zhuzhed up into a beautiful, extra flavorful bowl that is ready for the spotlight, transforming in front of your eyes like Mia Thermopolis in The Princess Diaries.

Black Bean Soup with Chile-Lime Crema

But where do you start? There are a handful of categories that you can pull from: crunchy, creamy, rich, or fresh and herby—or all four. Take our new black bean soup recipe, for example. We topped that with a handful of Fritos corn chips, a dollop of chile-lime crema, diced avocado, red onion, and cilantro. Maybe that was overachieving, but just look at it. It is a whole lot more appetizing than a bowl of murky black beans, and now all those flavors can dance on your tastebuds as if you’re having a full-on Taco Tuesday in one bowl of soup.

With that beautiful watercolor portrait of fully-loaded black bean soup in mind, here are our pillars of soup toppings, with some ideas to soup up your soup night.


We’ve already discussed Fritos, but any tortilla chip will do, especially for bean soups or, well, tortilla soup. Crushed up potato chips on top of potato soup would be a potato inception, corn nuts could complement a corn chowder, or good ol’ crackers (oyster, buttery Ritz, saltines) are a good standby. Some spiced nuts (like these sambal cashews!) or toasted breacrumbs would be nice on a creamy soup, or even some crispy grains like buckwheat on top of cauliflower soup. To take things to the next level, you could make bacon croutons for your split pea soup, cheesy toast on French onion soup, or grilled cheese croutons for tomato soup.

rent week squash soup single

Photo by Alex Lau

Chives, Greek yogurt, and olive oil top this easy squash soup.


A good swirl of yogurt, sour cream, or creme fraiche will make any soup look more mesmerizing and appetizing, and add a contrasting tangy flavor. We like yogurt on top of coconut lentil soup and simple squash soup to keep them from being just a big spoonful of pureed veg.


You may argue that something creamy is rich, but this is more about a nice finishing note like a drizzle of good olive oil, chunks of avocado, or a hefty sprinkle of Parmesan cheese on low-commitment wedding soup (that gets panko on top for extra crunch). Sometimes you need a little extra decadence. And though this is a very herby idea—more on that below—a dollop of pesto has a few categories in one, with nuts, herbs, garlic, and cheese packed in one flavor bomb.

italian wedding soup

Photo by Chelsie Craig

Ooooh, look at those breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese hanging out on low-commitment wedding soup.

Fresh and Herby

This can be a squeeze of lemon or lime to brighten up a bowl, or making it rain herbs like chives, scallions, cilantro, parsley, or dill. We’ve also used fennel fronds (which look like dill but are more vegetal in flavor) for a subtle flavor and pop of green, or finely chopped shallot or red onion when you want a little more of a contrasting bite. For a little spice, try infusing chiles into oil and drizzling on top. There is no limit to the amount of toppings you can put on your soup—you just might need a bigger bowl if you go too hard.

About that bean soup: