Poor Man’s Le Creuset

So I should fess up something about myself that you may not realize. But I am about the most frugal person you may ever meet in your life. Why? I don’t know. I’m not poor but I’m not rich either. I grew up in a typical lower-middle class immigrant household. I was never hungry, but I certainly did not have the nicest things in the world. Even when it comes to food, I much prefer quality over ambiance, taste over decor. Even when it comes to the things that live in my kitchen cabinets, you will not find a Global Knife, you will not find sparkling Calphalon pots and pans, nor will you find a commercial Viking stove. Instead it’s all a mish-mash of leftover stuff from college, one-offs handed down from relatives, random necessities that can probably be found in that big blue and yellow Swiss named warehouse, and decent appliances from the scratch-n-dent.
I really did want a cast iron dutch oven though, and everybody knows that all you need in this category is a le creuset. There’s no messing with anything else. But being who I am, my frugalness just would not plonk down the ~$200 for one of these prized pieces. Instead, I asked for a poor man’s version as a holiday gift. See, I couldn’t even bear the thought of someone else paying that much on a gift for me!

So my poor man’s version was courtesy of Mario Batali, via my brother. Thanks bro! And so with that finally here (my original holiday gift had to be returned so this one was a much-belated replacement), I got to make a recipe I’d been hankering for:

Braised Hoisin Beer Short Ribs with Creamy Mashed Yukons and Sesame Snow Peas, courtesy of Dave Lieberman (Philly’s own!).

I think it was one of those weekend mornings when I lazily turned on the TV very early and just vegged watching the Food network. Dave was on and started cooking this dish in his beautiful multi-colored le creusets. Damn him. But with my much cheaper dutch oven in hand, I got to finally make this. And it was glorious!

I got the short ribs from H Mart, since Koreans are the kings of short ribs. I also got my snow peas there, and my Yukon potatoes came courtesy of Trader Joe’s. It was an extremely long meal to make, as I started soon after noon. I had to simmer the ribs for hours, but it was well worth it. During the entire process, I got to watch a couple of movies I’d dvr’d weeks ago.

The final products turned out damn well. Seriously. I’m not one to pat myself on the back, but it was delicious. The potatoes were great, the chives gave them that extra kick. The snowpeas were crunchy and perfectly seasoned. The ribs had solid flavor and were more than hearty. I have plenty of leftovers for the week. My poor man’s dutch oven stood up great!

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