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Braising seminar discussion


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#1 JAZ

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Posted 10 February 2005 - 12:06 PM

If you have any questions about the logistics of the braising seminar, please post them here.

#2 hhawk

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Posted 10 February 2005 - 04:02 PM

You mention different liquids. Are we going try anything truly wacky like Coca Cola? The last few days i've been running pork ribs braised with RC Cola and Garlic, S&P.
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#3 ChefDanBrown

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Posted 10 February 2005 - 05:06 PM

I'm interested in the technique and execution of braising in milk, any chance you'll include that?
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#4 Cusina

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Posted 10 February 2005 - 06:26 PM

Can I correctly assume these should be bone-in short ribs? It's a little difficult to tell from the picture. My butcher sells both bone-in and boneless.
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#5 Fat Guy

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Posted 10 February 2005 - 06:26 PM

hhawk and Chef Dan:

Every variable we introduce can redouble the number of experiments we need to do, so the core lab experiments for this seminar will be relatively conservative. The liquids will be stock, wine and water, alone and in some combinations with each other and with aromatic vegetables. For most students in the seminar, these permutations will already test the limits of oven space, available pans and reasonable meat resources.

But if you want "extra credit," you can certainly add milk or coca cola to your own lab work and report back to us. The only thing I ask is that you also do enough of the basic experiments to be able to give a comparative report.

For example, the following would be a great addition to the seminar:

Today, in addition to the braised short ribs in stock, wine, half-stock/half-wine, and water-with-mirepoix, I braised a batch of short ribs in Diet A&W Root Beer and a batch in chocolate milk. Here are some photographs of how they looked during and after cooking. My observations, upon comparing the samples, are that the ones done in wine display the following characteristics . . . by contrast, the ones done in chocolate milk . . .

The following would not be a permissible addition to the seminar:

I already know what short ribs taste like when they're braised in stock and wine, so today I decided to braise some in grapefruit juice instead. They tasted really good, much better than I remember ones braised in stock tasting.

The point being, we are doing live, side-by-side comparisons. We're forgetting what we know, and approaching this scientifically, together, in a seminar format, with open minds. I hope we'll see lots of interesting "extra credit" work.

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#6 Fat Guy

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Posted 10 February 2005 - 06:32 PM

Can I correctly assume these should be bone-in short ribs?  It's a little difficult to tell from the picture.  My butcher sells both bone-in and boneless.

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Mine are bone-in. But, Cusina, it doesn't matter. The important thing is that you use all of one or the other, so all your results will be directly comparable to each other. For myself, I'm using the bone-in short ribs because that's what the Fairway market in Manhattan always has on the shelf. In most cases, people are going to have an easier time getting bone-in than boneless, but you can certainly use either.

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#7 snowangel

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Posted 10 February 2005 - 07:37 PM

Now that we've gotten Heidi into braised chicken, and my other kids don't really like beef (unless it's of the black and blue variety!), I will do chicken.

I have two very similar (almost identical pots) and one Amish-raised roasting chicken and one stewing hen. Trust it is OK to do a side by side comparison of the two? Best to do them both on the same day?

Aromatics. My family really hates braises, stews, stocks, etc. that have carrots cooked within it. I will omit them, unless it "expells" me from the seminar.

Finally, congratulations for kicking off this new ECI season in high style. You folks continue to raise the bar! This is an exciting beginning to the new season.
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#8 Fat Guy

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Posted 10 February 2005 - 08:03 PM

I have two very similar (almost identical pots) and one Amish-raised roasting chicken and one stewing hen.  Trust it is OK to do a side by side comparison of the two?  Best to do them both on the same day?

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It's more than okay. It's "extra credit"! And yes, I would suggest doing them on the same day for the most immediate side-by-side comparison.

The only thing I would ask with that experiment, however, is that you post the results next Friday, in the open discussion. None of the five lab experiments that we'll be working on as a group from Monday through Thursday really syncs with a comparison of different types of poultry, so it's best to save those results for Friday (of course, you can actually cook and eat the chickens any time -- it's just better for seminar logistics if you post those results on Friday).

If you'd like to do any of the other experiments with chicken, that's great. What I'd suggest for some of those is maybe picking up one of those big "family packs" of legs and thighs and doing some of the experiments with them.

Aromatics.  My family really hates braises, stews, stocks, etc.  that have carrots cooked within it.  I will omit them, unless it "expells" me from the seminar.


Nobody is going to get expelled! We do, however, engage in corporal punishment.

But seriously, folks, there is no need to use aromatic vegetables in any of the experiments, save for one: the aromatic vegetable experiment, which will be part of Tuesday's lab focusing on braising liquids. So you've got no problem doing any of the other experiments.

If you want to have fun with science, though, when we get to next Tuesday go ahead and make a batch with aromatic vegetables (including carrots) anyway, remove the carrots after cooking and hide them far away, and have your family taste it blind against a batch that was made without aromatic vegetables. Let's see if they really hate carrots, or just think they do.

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#9 Mayhaw Man

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Posted 10 February 2005 - 08:11 PM

I have laid in a supply of short ribs that look like they came off of a dinasaur. Of course, I will be carefully following all directives of our headmaster, as I am the kind of student who sits in the front of the class and pays careful attention-often bringing an apple for the teacher.

And Coca Cola is a time honored braising liquid in my little part of the world. That may be an option that I consider for extra credit, in case my usual method of brown nosing is a failure.
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#10 riboflavinjoe

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Posted 10 February 2005 - 08:21 PM

This is neat. Today in the McGill Daily, My sweetie pie and I published our first baby: On Braising. Check it out! It was hard to write an article that stayed within the word limit, and kept the most relavent information there, but I think we did a good job to get some students trying this at home. -jf
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#11 snowangel

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Posted 10 February 2005 - 10:48 PM

Steven, I was thinking that it would be a very good idea to try supermarket thigh/leg quarters at the same time. So, I'll do three chicken things. All the same, but with different kinds of chicken -- a stewing hen, an Amish-raised chicken, and supermarket quarters.

As to the carrots, you're on! I'll give it a go, but dollars to donut, They will know the difference. It's the one thing that gets them every time.
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#12 reuvens

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Posted 11 February 2005 - 03:13 AM

i am wondering why you should "brine" your meats before braising them?

#13 jackal10

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Posted 11 February 2005 - 03:27 AM

I think you need to be even more controlled, as the type of wine can make a big difference.
I love to braise in a soy/sweet wine liquid, to bring out the unami flavour. Mirin or Madeira or a sweet sherry work well. You don't need much - maybe 2 tablespoons each of soy and sweet wine, plus aromatics Quite a different effect from red wine

#14 Fat Guy

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Posted 11 February 2005 - 05:34 AM

riboflavinjoe and vue_de_cuisine, thanks for your posts. I'm going to ask that you repost those comments next Friday, when we have our open discussion about braising. Right now, we're only going to discuss the actual logistics of the lab work for this seminar.

jackal10, if I understand your comment correctly, you're suggesting additional experiments. I hope you'll do some of them and report back, within the guidelines specified here and in the course introduction.

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#15 Fat Guy

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Posted 11 February 2005 - 06:24 AM

Steven, I was thinking that it would be a very good idea to try supermarket thigh/leg quarters at the same time.  So, I'll do three chicken things. 

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Fantastic. You should easily be able to adapt the lab instructions (the instructions for the first lab will go up today) to chicken.

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#16 Stone

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Posted 11 February 2005 - 06:32 AM

i am wondering why you should "brine" your meats before braising them?

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There are many threads in the cooking section discussing the postive/negative effect of brining. I don't think brining has any particular connection to braising.

#17 Safran

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Posted 11 February 2005 - 07:41 AM

...as I am the kind of student who sits in the front of the class and pays careful attention-often bringing an apple for the teacher.

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Fine! That means I have to bring chocolate...or have pots that are shinier. :raz: All kidding aside, I'm ready...an inventory of pots/pans has been performed. Tomorrow, a trip to the butcher. Am looking forward to this course very much.

#18 Bartow

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Posted 11 February 2005 - 08:53 AM

If you have any questions about the logistics of the braising seminar, please post them here.

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Hello, Steve,

Re the vessels to be used: I'd like to use a terra cotta tagine that I picked up in Aix-en-Provence a few years ago, and have been using (nonscientifically) since. It would fall into the "corningware" category, to be used after a preliminary browning of the meat (or turnip). I'm curious to know whether it imparts anything different to the outcome than a "regular" pot. When/where do you suggest that I put it into the, um, curriculum?

Many thanks for running this seminar.

Bartow

#19 jgm

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Posted 11 February 2005 - 09:35 AM

How can I handle the coursework best while holding down an 8-to-5 job? How long will the braising periods be? I'm trying to decide whether I can do this after work, or ...what?

#20 Fat Guy

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Posted 11 February 2005 - 10:46 AM

Bartow, that will be a terrific addition to Monday's lab (aka Lab number 1). We'll be posting those instructions tonight -- once you read them, it will be very intuitive to add the tagine.

jgm, one of the reasons I chose short ribs is that they don't take very long to braise. I don't want to bias anybody by giving specific times or temperatures, but when I braised short ribs for the preliminary course photos they were done in about 2.5 hours. And that's really all the time you need -- whatever time it takes to braise them (although one experiment will take a bit longer, you could always skip that one). So it's just a question of doing it as your evening activity, if you're into it. Also, you can do Monday's coursework on Sunday. I hope you'll find a way to work this in!

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#21 jgm

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Posted 11 February 2005 - 10:54 AM

...
...So it's just a question of doing it as your evening activity, if you're into it. Also, you can do Monday's coursework on Sunday. I hope you'll find a way to work this in!

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You bet I will. My brand new Le Creuset 5 1/2 qt. pot arrived this morning. I didn't order it for this purpose, but this'll do! Sounds like a good way to break it in!

I also bought a pannini press, if you want to schedule a course on grilled sandwiches... :biggrin:

#22 fiftydollars

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Posted 11 February 2005 - 06:59 PM

How much stock will I need to complete the whole seminar?

Edited by fiftydollars, 11 February 2005 - 07:05 PM.


#23 snowangel

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Posted 11 February 2005 - 11:00 PM

OK. I've just read Lab #1.

So for marking meat, any suggestions? I'm going to do three types of chicken. Use different colors of embroidery floss (cotton) to mark via ties?

I think I read Lab #1 carefully. But, in case I didn't, is the choice of vessel up to us?

Finally, just cleaned out the deep freeze and found a major stash of stock (how can one lose stock?). I stock still viable after 8 months at the very bottom of a deep freezer which is very cold and tight enough that is has almost no frost? It is in glass canning jars.

So, no aromatics, so I don't have to worry about the carrots!

I am lucky. Home alone all day on Monday with nothing better to do that brown and braise (other than drywall and paint, but any excuse to avoid same is welcome!).
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"

#24 bleudauvergne

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Posted 12 February 2005 - 02:37 AM

So lab no. 1 is to get the materials together, make your stock, etc.?

#25 Boris_A

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Posted 12 February 2005 - 03:30 AM

As I understood #1, we're trying to search the differences between braising qualities of all 4 vessels.

Maybe different coloured pins to mark the pieces in a vessel? Other possibilities?

What's a recommended minimal size for beef pieces (me: shanks)? How much beef I'm going to need for all 4 lab series?
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#26 Fat Guy

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Posted 12 February 2005 - 05:30 AM

How much stock will I need to complete the whole seminar?

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It really depends on the size of the vessels you're planning to use, but measuring with the vessels I'm using, on average it takes about 1/2 a quart (aka a pint) to do each experiment, with each lab consisting of 4-5 experiments. Not ever experiment, however, will use stock -- a couple will use water or wine. There is also one experiment where you will use more stock than in any other (fully or almost-fully submerged braising). I've got 8 quarts ready to go but I don't expect to use them all. You can also extend your stock -- if you get to day 4 and you have 1 quart of stock but you need 2, you can just cut it in half with water or wine, or if you run out you can do all the day 4 experiments with wine.

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#27 Fat Guy

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Posted 12 February 2005 - 06:00 AM

I think I read Lab #1 carefully.  But, in case I didn't, is the choice of vessel up to us?

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Yes and no. The idea with Lab #1 (those of you who haven't seen the instructions yet, please click here) is not for you to use vessel singular, but rather to use vessels plural, so as to be able to compare the results of braising the same item in different vessels. Why are we doing that? Well, if you've spent three minutes reading the eG Forums or you've ever shopped for a pot at Williams-Sonoma, Sur La Table or pretty much any store where they have sales help, you've no doubt been subjected to a barrage of opinion about why this Le Creuset or that All-Clad pan will, for just $200, make your braises taste so much better. We're going to find out, among other things, whether that's true. Not only are we going to find out if different pots make a braise taste better, but also we're going to find out if they make it different at all, and if so how. So, to answer your question, the choice of vessels is up to you, based on what you have or can borrow, but the idea here is to try to use four different vessels and cook one piece of meat (each piece being the same as the others) in each, in order to compare results.

So for marking meat, any suggestions?  I'm going to do three types of chicken.  Use different colors of embroidery floss (cotton) to mark via ties?


Continuing with the comments in the previous passage, a three-types-of-chicken experiment (if by that you mean three different chicken recipes or three different species of bird) would not be a Lab #1 experiment, because Lab #1 is same-item/different-vessels. I would encourage you to do a three-types-of-chicken experiment whenever you like, and to share your results with us, but the day to share those results would be Friday, in the open discussion. The discussion on each of the lab days (Monday-Thursday, Labs 1-4) is more narrowly tailored to the exact experiments set forth in the lab assignments. How does this affect marking? Well, if you've got four different vessels you don't need to mark anything during cooking because the samples are (we hope) not going to get up on their own and transfer themselves from pot to pot. What you will need to do is mark the pieces after cooking, which is much easier because you don't need super-heat-proof marking technology. For me, I plan to take each sample out of its braising vessel and line them up on a platter with a Post-It note in front of each saying, for example, "From Le Creuset pot." When I store them in the refrigerator, I'll put them in sandwich-sized Zip-Loc bags, on which I'll write the same thing. Later in the week we may have some need to mark pieces while they actually cook. I haven't decided what I'll do for that, so suggestions are welcome.

Finally, just cleaned out the deep freeze and found a major stash of stock (how can one lose stock?).  I stock still viable after 8 months at the very bottom of a deep freezer which is very cold and tight enough that is has almost no frost?  It is in glass canning jars.


I personally would not hesitate to use it, and have used longer-frozen stock than that on many occasions. I'm probably defying some conservative food-safety estimates by doing so, but I do that every time I eat a rare steak.

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#28 Fat Guy

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Posted 12 February 2005 - 06:02 AM

So lab no. 1 is to get the materials together, make your stock, etc.?

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Have a look at the Lab number 1 instructions, which are separate from the course introduction.

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#29 Fat Guy

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Posted 12 February 2005 - 06:14 AM

As I understood #1, we're trying to search the differences between braising qualities of all 4 vessels.

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Exactly so.

Maybe different coloured pins to mark the pieces in a vessel? Other possibilities?


As mentioned above, because we're concerned with vessels not pieces, all you need to do is keep track of each vessel during cooking, and label the pieces afterwards.

What's a recommended minimal size for beef pieces (me: shanks)? How much beef I'm going to need for all 4 lab series?


I would say the minimum size is about the size of a short rib, so a shank will be plenty big. The important thing is that you try to get shanks that are similar to each other, so they won't become too much of a variable. We want the meat (and the liquid, temperature, etc.) to stay constant, and we want the variable to be the cooking vessel. In terms of total number of pieces, 20 will do the trick. We may only use 19 -- some decisions in later labs will depend on results from earlier ones.

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#30 Boris_A

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Posted 12 February 2005 - 06:24 AM

I would say the minimum size is about the size of a short rib, so a shank will be plenty big.

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Short rib of beef is a very unusual cut here. Actually, I've never seen one from close (but I'm going to try once in the future). What's the size of a single "cubes" inchwise? I'd like to cut the shanks accordingly.

Further I'm thinking of browning all pieces at once in large saute pan and to distribute them evenly to the vessels, not forgetting the bits and pieces and some diluting liquidity as suggested. Wrt. browning, a comparison between an alufoil vessel and an iron cast vessel is impossible anyway. Comments?
Make it as simple as possible, but not simpler.