If cooking means you’ve met that special someone, then braising shows you’re in it for the long haul. A process that can take days, braising requires your tender love and care.
But like any worthwhile commitment, you get what you give, and in this culinary case, you can really reap some savory rewards.
Just ask Chef Ricky King, who started Untamed Sandwiches with Andy Jacobi earlier this year to bring the flavorful delights of a good, long braise to the snappy Manhattan lunch crowd. After sampling some of their delicious offerings, we hit King up for the backstory, braising tips and a bona fide recipe. Read and learn.
“Braising is all about time. Things that take a long time to cook usually taste better.”
You’ve been the executive chef for various NYC restaurants, including The McKittrick Hotel’s Heath and Hundred Acres. Why did you want to open Untamed?
I wanted a business venture that would take what I’ve learned over the years and turn it into a concept that we could brand, franchise, and be successful at. The sandwich market is saturated in the sense that there’s a sandwich shop on every corner. Even the bodegas make sandwiches, but with the braised meat sandwich, it’s more of a difficult and skilled technique then just slicing deli meat. We felt there was a niche, with braising, that hadn’t been filled yet.
What is braising, exactly?
With braising, you take your off-cuts of meat—your briskets, short ribs, shoulders, hind legs, bellies—and that way it’s more cost effective. It just takes longer to make the meat tender. It takes these tougher, more inexpensive cuts of meat, and by cooking them for a long period of time, it makes the meat tender and flavorful.
What’s the process like to braise meats for Untamed?
It takes us five days from getting the meat in to breaking it down. We let it sit for two to three days, and as it’s curing, we take chicken bones and roast them to make our brown chicken stock. We turn that brown chicken stock into an enriched broth, a braising liquid. We take the braising liquid, put it on top of the cured meat, and then we braise it for about eight hours at a very low temperature. We let it sit for a day. Then, we pull the meat out of the braising liquid and pick the meat, meaning we break it up so that it’s manageable on a bun. We take that braising liquid and take the fat off the top. We put it into a pot, we bring it up to temperature, and then we skim it to basically clean it. We put the meat back into that braising liquid, and that’s what we let the meat sit in before it goes in our hot bun for service.
The Hot Goldie is all the rage at Untamed. Learn how to braise something yourself below.
What does the at-home braiser need?
To braise your own meat, you definitely need salt. You need an off-cut of meat. If you’re starting out, then you would want to get something like a pork shoulder or a pork butt. You can season that meat with salt and whatever spice you want. You could just go simple and use chili flakes or black pepper. Then wrap the meat in plastic and let it sit it in your refrigerator for a day. Mix onions, celery, some carrots and a little bit of red wine. You can buy chicken stock from the store and prepare the braising liquid. Then just braise the meat in the oven in a pot.
Any tricks of the trade?
Take your time. Braising is all about time. Things that take a long time to cook usually taste better.
You do a lot of beer pairings. How do you pair beers with the right meat?
You think about what type of meat it is and take the nuances of that meat. If you’re going with beef or some sort of heartier piece of meat, then you want to go with your darker beers, your stouts or your porters. But if you’re going with pork, I would probably go with a pale ale, an IPA. Say you get into veggie stuff, you want to go with the lighter beer—wheat beer or hefeweizen—something that’s going to basically complement the meat.
What’s your favorite thing on the menu?
My favorite dish, which you’ll see come back in January for our one-year [anniversary], was the Chupacabra. The Chupacabra is a goat sandwich that we ran when we first opened. I would pair that with an IPA.
How experimental can you get with braised meats?
Take a look at our menu! We use classic techniques on nontraditional ingredients and nontraditional accouterments. A lot of people don’t serve goat sandwiches, but we do with our kohlrabi slaw, carrots and chermoula.
How do you decide what to make next, and what inspires your creations?
Life. Life inspires my creations. On days off, my wife and I will eat out three times a day. Everything I do is surrounded by cuisine, culture and cooking. Even just reading a menu or tasting a hotdog from a hotdog stand can inspire the next sandwich at Untamed.
Sandwich men: King with Untamed co-owner Andy Jacobi.
Braised Pork Sandwich
Serves 6 sandwiches
6 crusty ciabatta rolls
3 lbs braised pork shoulder
1/2 cup salt
1/4 cup pepper
1 bunch broccoli rabe
1/8 cup of chili flake
2 cups of grated cheddar
1/2 cup Dijon mustard
1 cup sweet pepper jelly (store bought)
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
Season pork butt with ½ cup salt and ¼ cup pepper. Wrap in plastic wrap and let sit in the refrigerator for 24 hrs.
The Braising Liquid
2 carrots, rough chopped
1 spanish onion, peeled, rough chopped
4 ribs of celery, washed, rough chopped
1 head of garlic, peeled
3 qts of chicken broth
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
2 cup apple cider
2 bay leaves
4 sprigs of thyme
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
- Place medium stockpot over medium/high heat. Saute vegetables in oil until light brown. Add apple cider vinegar. Cook until the vinegar is almost dry.
- Add apple cider and reduce by half.
- Add in chicken broth, herbs, peppercorns. and bring to simmer. Let the vegetables and stock cook for 1 hour, until the stock reduces by 1/8th.
- Pull from stove, strain and let cool.
Preparing the Pork
3 lbs pork shoulder
1/2 cup grapeseed oil
- Heat large stock pan on high and add in ½ cup of grapeseed oil.
- Place pork shoulder into the pan and sear all sides. You’re looking for medium brown color all around.
- Once brown, pull meat and empty oil from pot. Put pot back on stove and add braising liquid.
- Add pork shoulder to the braise, and season the braise as you see fit.
- Bring braising liquid to a simmer. Once it is at a simmer, turn down the temperature and put a lid on the pot. Cook for 2 hrs
- After 2 hrs, pull lid and check with doneness with a fork. If the meat pulls apart easily, it’s done. If not, continue to cook with the lid on checking every 10 minutes.
- Once cooked, pull from stove and let the meat rest. Once cool enough to handle, pull meat from braising liquid and break meat into medium size chunks. Place meat back into braising liquid.
Wash broccoli rabe, trimming off tough ends. Saute broccoli rabe in ½ cup grapeseed oil, add in salt and 1/8th cup of chili flake. Put cooked broccoli to the side.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Take ciabatta and place on baking tray. Slather dijon on both sides of bread, laying cheddar cheese over top. Toast in oven until cheese melts. Pull bread from oven, place braised pork and broccoli rabe on the bottom side of the bun. Spread pepper jelly on the top side of the bun. Cut sandwich in half and serve.