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BRAISING MEAT FOOD & COOKING ARTICLE

All-Clad 5½ Quart
Dutch Oven

All-Clad French Oven

There is no excuse to pass up a recipe that calls for Braising because you think it's too complicated. The only piece of cookware you need to braise meat or vegetables is a shallow casserole style pan that can go from stove top to oven and that has a tight fitting lid. For example; the two pans on the right are ideal for braising.

WHAT TO BRAISE

Meats:

  • Veal or lamb shanks
  • Beef brisket for a delicious Pot Roast
  • Loin pork chops

Vegetables:

  • Leeks
  • Fresh fennel
  • Celery
  • Carrots

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The Method

Meat and/or vegetables are first stove-top browned in butter or oil. A small amount of liquid (water, wine, stock) is added to the browned meat/vegetables, tightly covered and then slow-cooked in a pre-heated oven at 350ºF for 2 hours or more depending on the cut and size of meat used. The slow braising gently breaks down the fibrous tissue in the protein or vegetables being cooked and the foods own juices are released.

Alternatively, you can also braise on top of the stove over a low heat, but I feel that the long slow oven method yields a better braised dish. Stove top braising leaves open the chance of burning in the bottom of the pan because of uneven heat. Some braising recipes are, however, finished on top of the stove - meat is removed from the braising pan and the vegetables are puréed and added back to the dish as a thickening for the sauce. Additional ingredients are now added to the sauce (capers, mustard, etc.) and the meat is returned to re-heat in the sauce on top of the stove.

Note:
Stews are similar to braised dishes except with stews, the meat is cut into smaller pieces as for a beef stew and stews use more liquid than braised dishes.

The following are three of my favorite recipes for braising:

  • The thick cut pork chops are tenderized by the long slow cooking method and the capers and mustard finish off the dish.

  • The ever-popular Italian dish of braised veal shanks (Osso Buco - "bone with a hole") is my all-time favorite, traditionally served with Risotto Milanese, although I have served couscous or a thick but yet soft polenta. Try to buy the hind portion of the shanks if possible because the hindshank is meatier than the foreshank and for those like me who just love to eat the marrow from the round bone, the hindshank bone contains more of it!

  • A close second favorite meat to braise are lamb shanks. Similar ingredients to those used for Osso Buco, but I like to use red wine with the lamb and white wine for the veal.

BRAISED PORK CHOPS WITH MUSTARD AND CAPER SAUCE

Ingredients

2 thick cut pork chops
2 Tbls butter
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 ribs celery, thinly sliced
4 sprigs fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ cup dry white wine
½ cup water

For Sauce:
2 tsp Dijon style mustard
1 Tbl small capers, drained and rinsed
2 Tbls butter

Method

  • Preheat oven to 350ºF.
  • In a stove top and oven proof casserole or braising pan, brown chops on both sides in melted butter.
  • Remove chops from pan to a plate and reserve.
  • In the same pan, saute onion and celery until just wilted.
  • Add thyme, rosemary, wine and water to the pan and bring to a boil.
  • Return chops to the pan, sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper.
  • Cover pan tightly with lid and braise for 2 hours.
  • Remove chops from braising pan and reserve.
  • Remove sprigs of herbs and discard.
  • Using a slotted spoon, remove vegetables from liquid in pan and puree in a food processor or blender. You may need to use some of the liquid to puree the vegetables.
  • Return pureed vegetables and liquid to the braising pan and cook over high heat for 2 minutes.
  • Using a wire whisk (also called a whip) stir in the mustard and capers and continue cooking for 1 minute.
  • Swirl in the butter until melted.
  • Reduce heat and return chops to the sauce and heat through.

Recommended side dishes:

  • Garlic Mashed Potatoes
  • Sautéed Broccoli Rabe
  • Baby Green Peas
  • Long Grain & Wild Rice

Serves 2 (recipe can be doubled)

OSSO BUCO

Ingredients

4 x 2-inch thick pieces of veal shank (preferably hind shanks)
1/2 cup flour for dredging, lightly seasoned with salt & pepper
4 Tbls Olive oil
1 lg onion, diced
3 ribs celery, diced
2 medium Carrots, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup dry white wine
1 small can whole plum tomatoes, crushed
1 large fresh California Bay leaf (or 2 dried bay leaves)
4 sprigs fresh thyme
10 leaves of fresh basil, thinly sliced
2 sprigs fresh oregano
1 tsp salt (preferably sea salt or kosher salt)
Black pepper to taste

Method

  • In a Dutch Oven or other braising style pan, heat the olive until almost smoking.
  • In the meantime, dry veal shanks with paper towel and then dredge in the seasoned flour.
  • When oil is hot, brown the veal shanks on all sides (lower heat slightly to prevent burning).
  • When browned, remove from pan and add the onions, celery, carrots and garlic to the pan and saute until the onion and celery are wilted but not browned.
  • Add the wine and herbs to the pan and scrape the bottom of the pan to release any stuck on particles.
  • Return the veal shanks to the pot and distribute the vegetables evenly around the shanks.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes and bay leaves and salt and black pepper.
  • Cover pan tightly and simmer over low heat for about 1 1/2 hours.
  • Remove lid for the last 20 minutes of cooking time - this will help the sauce to thicken slightly.
  • Remove bay leaves and stems of fresh herbs.
  • Serve each portion with some sauce and vegetables and sprinkle on the Gremolata.

Serves 4

GREMOLATA GARNISH

Sprinkle on each portion just before serving - can be used for Veal and Lamb shank recipes.

Ingredients

1 handful of flat-leaf parsley, finely minced
1 large clove garlic, finely minced
grated zest of one lemon

Method

  • Combine ingredients for Gremolata.
  • Place in a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap, refrigerate until needed.

Recommended side dishes:

  • Traditionally, Risotto Milanese is served with Osso Buco. There is a commercially available brand of Risotto Milanese by Knorr which is acceptable and carried in major supermarkets.
  • Thick (yet soft) polenta is another good choice as is Couscous grain. A vegetable is not really needed as the sauce contains the braised carrot, celery and onion.

BRAISED LAMB SHANKS WITH WHITE BEANS

Ingredients

3 Tbls olive oil
4 lamb shanks, trimmed of the silver skin and any grizzle
Sea Salt and Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup flour, seasoned lightly with salt and pepper
1 large onion, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and cubed
3 ribs celery, cubed
1 large leek, white part only, chopped
1 medium size bulb of fresh fennel, trimmed and chopped
3 large cloves garlic, chopped
1 cup dry red wine (cabernet, merlot)
1/2 cup veal stock (or canned beef stock)
1 small can Roma (Italian style) tomatoes, crushed
6 sprigs fresh thyme
2 sprigs fresh rosemary

Method

  • Heat oven to 350ºF.
  • Heat oil in a Dutch Oven or other braising style casserole suitable for the stove top and the oven.
  • Dry lamb shanks with paper towel and then dredge in seasoned flour.
  • Sprinkle with salt and pepper and brown lamb shanks (without crowding the pan) until browned on all sides. If shanks are large, you may only be able to brown 2 shanks at a time.
  • Remove browned shanks to a plate and reserve.
  • In the oil remaining, sauté the onion, carrot, celery, leek, fennel and garlic until the onion and celery are wilted about 10 minutes.
  • Add red wine and stock to the pan and de-glaze, scraping up any of the browned bits.
  • Return lamb shanks to the pan and distribute the vegetables evenly around the shanks.
  • Add the crushed tomatoes and fresh herbs. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • Cover pan tightly and braise in the oven for 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

Serves 4

WHITE BEANS

Begin preparation 1 day ahead.

Ingredients

12 oz Dried navy beans (or any small white bean)
6 cups fresh water
1 medium onion, peeled and left whole
1 large fresh bay leaf (or two dried bay leaves)
5 sprigs fresh thyme

Method

  • Soak dried white beans overnight in cold water.
  • Drain and discard water.
  • In a 4 quart saucepan, add fresh water, soaked beans, onion, bay leave and thyme.
  • Gently simmer covered until beans are tender. About 1½ hours.
  • Remove onion and herbs and drain beans from liquid.
  • Reserve until needed to serve with braised lamb shanks.

Recommended side dishes:

  • If you don't like white beans, garlic mashed potatoes or mashed potatoes mixed with prepared horseradish to taste go well with the lamb shanks.
  • Mashed Rutabaga also is delicious with the braised lamb shanks. As with the Osso Buco, a vegetable side dish is not necessary due to the vegetables in the braise.
  • The Gremolata garnish is delicious on the braised lamb shanks as well as on Osso Buco.

Ann Hall Every, CCP

© Ann Hall Every, 2001
All rights reserved

This article is from Ann Hall Every, CCP who runs her own food and cookery web site called Cooking with Aloha - Cooking with Love - to visit Ann's web site click here.

To find out more about Ann and her passion for food you can either have a look at her biography page (click here) or you can visit her web site - www.cookwithaloha.com

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