I am such a firm believer in my ability to control destiny according to Murphy’s law that I will hereby offer you a word of advice: If you are inclined to run any road races in New York City, and you don’t like running in the rain, check which races I’ve decided to run in before entering. Because so far I’m two for two on having at least one torrential downpour occur during half marathons. Yesterday’s race was the capper: darned if the light rain (fine for running, fine!) didn’t turn into an absolutely miserably torrential downpour at precisely 8:30 as we lined up at the start. And then the rain continued until pretty much precisely the moment I got into my car to drive home after (sitting on garbage bags I was dripping that much). After which, of course, it turned into a lovely sunny afternoon.
Fortunately I seem to run faster in the rain (I guess everyone must in order to get it over with; it was a rather grim-faced crowd yesterday) so I was able to blow my last time out of the water (1:49:55!) and remain totally cheerful despite the amazingly annoying discomfort of running 13.1 miles in soaked running shorts. My shoes are still wet this morning; I checked.
Buoyed either by my complete insanity, or by the happiness at a respectable race time, or both, upon getting back to the apartment I enjoyed a long hot shower, did some household chores, and had a restorative nap.
At which point I was ready to haul a le Creuset down off the shelf and make the dinner that my body craves, post-race: braised beef with carrots. After the effort of a long run at racing pace anything with calories would do, I suppose. But the deeply satisfying flavors that come from braising are the best way to go . . . not in the least part because it’s so easy to do (a little chopping, a little browning, then put the lid on the pot and collapse on the couch with a glass of hefty red and the newspaper while dinner makes itself). This dish is essentially poor-man’s osso bucco (beef shank going for less than half the price of veal shank). Or, if you happen to have some gorgeous little fingerling potatoes from the Greenmarket, as I did yesterday, you can call it “rich man’s Irish Stew.”
Post Half-Marathon Braised Beef with Carrots
Use per absolutely starving person:
1 hefty slice of beef shank (with marrow bone)
3 carrots peeled and coarsely chopped
½ large onion, thinly sliced
3 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed, not chopped
½ cup chicken stock
a couple of sprigs of fresh time, or a good sprinkle of dry
optional: a splash of red wine, some peeled chopped tomatoes (fresh or canned), or fingerling potatoes for the irish effect
garnish: parsley finely chopped with lemon peel
if not using potatoes, serve over buttered egg noodles
Salt and pepper the beef on both sides, then brown in a heavy pan (bottom coated with olive oil) over high heat for two minutes a side. Set beef aside, lower heat to medium, and add onions and a pinch of salt. Turn quickly to make sure onions don’t burn until they’ve released their liquid, then throw in carrots and garlic, reduce heat to low, and turn a couple of times. Put lid on pot, keeping an eye on it to make sure the vegetables are sweating without browning (I usually chop the parsley/lemon peel garnish at this point). After 3-4 minutes, uncover and turn the heat up to high; add the stock/wine and bring to a boil, then put the beef back into the pot and add whatever optional ingredients you might be using. Reduce heat to low, cover, and retire to couch. It needs to cook for 45 minutes to an hour; rouse yourself a couple of times to stir, turning the meat once or twice in the process.
I'm such a fan of braising that I own a vast battery of cast-iron pans. The crowning glory of my collection, however is this le Creuset. It's a veritable vat, big enough to make osso bucco for a crowd. I think I must have a dinner party, and fast! to make sure it gets proper use.