Like grief, cold is an absence that takes up space. Winter wants the soul and bores into the body to get it
Hold the Dark, William Giraldi
Snow is an insulating blanket, refracting the light, but then there’s the mess of it and all the work, plus the fear of falling on the slick pavement. There’s the cold, the bone crunching cold of Midwestern winters. Dark so early! Most people stay inside a lot. It’s hard to get a car around the side streets and there’s black ice on the highways…you can’t see it until it’s too late! My friend says there’s no bad weather, just inappropriate gear, but I don’t believe it.
The qualities we looked for in fall food are even more imperative in winter. Deep flavors, soft velvety texture, a warm kitchen, lights on, someone home. How good it is if we smell something fragrant before even opening the door.
Braised chicken is perfect for the cold weather. The chicken is cut into parts, browned in fat and then finished by simmering with a flavorful liquid in a covered pot, low and slow. The smell of good cooking permeates the house. Coq au vin and Indian butter chicken are two braised dishes that are created using similar techniques but resulting in very different tastes. French pot au feu and Vietnamese pho are two iconic simmered beef dishes. They all provide the rich mellow satisfaction that we crave in winter.