Its time to turn the oven back on and braise
Rain is back - and with it, cooler weather. Must be time to turn on that oven.
One of the easiest ways to cook in the oven is to braise food. Some of our favorite comfort foods - such as coq au vin, Swiss steak and pot roast - are prepared by braising. It's a simple process that produces mouth watering and tummy warming results.
Braising relies on heat, time and moisture to break down tough connective tissue, which makes it an ideal method of cooking tougher, inexpensive cuts of meat, an added bonus in these economically challenging days.
Most braises follow the same basic steps. The food to be braised is first seared to brown the surface and enhance its flavor. A cooking liquid that often contains an acidic element, such as tomatoes, beer or wine, is added to the pot, along with stock, to not quite cover the meat. The dish is cooked covered at a very low simmer until the meat is fork tender. Usually the cooking liquid is finished to create a sauce or gravy.
Red cooking, also known as Chinese stewing, red stewing and red braising, is an English term used to describe two slow braising Chinese cooking techniques: hóng shâo and lú. Hóng shâo can be done in less than 20 minutes and doesn't usually require much water. Lú requires several hours and the items must be submerged in the cooking liquid.
Red cooking derives its name from the dark red-brown color of the cooked items and the sauce. You will recognize it as the method used for braised short ribs.
Swissing is a step in braising certain dishes, Swiss steak for example. Swissing is a method of tenderizing meat by running it through rollers or pounding it with a meat mallet, to soften it. Swiss steak calls for tough, inexpensive cuts of meat, such as beef round steak. The pounding or rolling the meat, followed by braising it, are what makes this dish fork tender and so delectable.
I had always figured Mom was making a delicacy from Switzerland when she made Swiss steak we loved so much.
Jugging is a braising term I had not heard before; it evidently was a method common in Old World Europe. Jugging is the process of stewing meat, usually whole game animals or fish, for a long time in a tightly covered container, such as a casserole or an earthenware jug. Often the cooking liquid includes some of the animal's blood. In French cuisine, stew of a game animal, thickened with the animal's blood is known as a civet; you have probably seen it on menus offering wild game.
A common traditional dish of 18th and 19th century Europe was Jugged Hare, known as Civet de lièvre in French. A whole hare, cut into pieces was marinated and cooked with red wine and juniper berries in a tall jug that stood in a pot of water. It traditionally was served with the hare's blood (added right at the very end of the cooking process) and Port wine.
Oh, those French - so creative and resourceful!
One of the most common braised dishes enjoyed today is coq au vin - chicken cooked in wine. It is easy to make but has a lengthy ingredient list. Rather than present you with a daunting new process and lots of ingredients, I chose to give you a great recipe with just five ingredients.
This Braised Chicken with Garlic and White Wine is simple to prepare and elegant enough to serve company. Accompany it with the Five:30 recipe for Braised Onions with Orange and Balsamic Vinegar for a cozy fall dinner you will remember all week.
Email me when you are ready for the coq au vin recipe!
Bon Appetit! Eat from the Garden!
Braised Chicken with Garlic and White Wine
This sounds like a lot of garlic but it is very mellow.
Makes 8 servings
2 3 ½ pound whole chickens, each cut into 8 pieces
5 whole heads of garlic, cloves separated (about 70), unpeeled
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
2 cups dry white wine
6 very large fresh thyme sprigs
Trim excess fat from chicken. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Lightly smash garlic cloves just to flatten slightly, leaving peel attached and cloves as whole as possible.
Heat 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add chicken and cook until brown on all sides, about 12 minutes per batch. Transfer chicken to plate. Add remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and garlic to pot. Stir until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Add wine and thyme; bring to a boil. Return chicken to the pot. Reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer until chicken is cooked through, moving chicken pieces from top to bottom every 5 minutes (sauce will not cover chicken), about 20 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Transfer chicken to platter. Spoon garlic cloves around chicken and drizzle with sauce.
Bon Appetit, Jan. 2004.
Braised Onions with Orange and Balsamic Vinegar
Makes 6 side dish servings
2 pounds cipolline onions or small boiling onions
2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
2 tablespoons olive oil
6 tablespoons orange juice
6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons water
Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add unpeeled onions and cook 2 minutes. Drain and cool. Peel onions and cut off root ends.
Melt butter with oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onions, sauté until brown and tender, about 10 minutes. Add orange juice, vinegar and 2 tablespoons water to skillet. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer until liquid is reduced to glaze, about 4 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Cook's Note: you could also use pearl onions and adjust cooking time to accommodate the smaller size of the onion.
Randall welcomes your food questions and research suggestions. She can be reached at 503-635-8811 or by e-mail at brandall@lakeoswe