I don't know about you, but I'm not above whetting my wife's more carnal appetites with enough wine and chocolate to impair her better judgment. I'm sure that's all very un-PC and certainly, as the father of young daughters, I live in mortal fear of the effects of alcohol on sensibility; but my wife's a big girl, and above all, she knows how I think, so I'm pretty sure our pending Valentine's Date - a savory symphony of handcrafted chocolate and wine at J Winery - will be consensual.
I confess, I'm a total sauce slut: My wife could legitimately accuse me of infidelity, if only she had thought to proscribe lustfully leering at the 5 mother sauces in our vows, and I might happily eat a shoe, if only it were first slathered with a demi glace of sufficiently high quality.
Sometimes, despite all the planning, the wearing-thin of cookbook pages, the carpal-tunnel-clicking through epicurious, I'll find out the hard way that it's what I didn't plan for that determines whether my food ultimately succeeds, or merely sucks. Typically, I'm undone by good, old fashioned pilot error; typically, but not always, because sometimes it's the black swan crapping on my mise, and it's just such an exception to the rule that inspired this edition of Meat, Braise, Love: A slow braise of shoulder of local lamb with bitter chocolate, rosemary, and bad-ass Syrah.
Producing a braise in your own kitchen is a bit like making porn in your own bed: It rewards practice, because when you get it just right, it's the best you'll ever see, and all the times you don't, it's still a very long way from sucking. Similarly, there is just so much to love about the braise: Purely from a gastronomic perspective, no other cooking technique so easily employed by the home cook comes close to creating the depth and concentration of flavor than does the properly executed braise.