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Cooking with "All About Braising" by Molly Stevens (Part 2)


kmcg
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Santo, I've discovered that I quite prefer using a butt (bone in or boneless) to the country ribs, which are often not nearly as well marbled.

Thanks Snowangel. I'll do that next time. I should probably pull the book out and make a note in it.

I like cows, too. I hold buns against them. -- Bucky Cat.

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  • 2 weeks later...

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I made the veal polpettone with ricotta yesterday.

While they were good, or even great, they were not as enchanting as I would have hoped after reading the recipe introduction. The meatballs are not fried, but braised/poached in a tomato-y braising liquid. They come out very fragile and soft, almost too soft textured for my liking.

The braising liquid that you end up with is very thin. Because I was working ahaed, I reduced the liquid by half to make a more substantial sauce, and reheated balls & sauce in the oven at dinner time.

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This weekend I made the World's Best Cabbage.  I wouldn't go as far as calling it the best, but it was certainly very good.

I made this recipe a couple days ago and while I don't love cabbage I thought this was quite good. I added the balsamic at the end and I'd definatly make this again.

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I got this book a couple of weeks ago and I have to say I'm disappointed in it. The recipes look pretty good, but in a book title "all about ... " I expect to learn a lot about technique. Besides discussing every imaginable shape and color of pan, there's very little technique in this book. And some of what she describes does not follow the laws of physics, at least not the ones that govern the planet where I do most of my cooking.

I've found much more detailed (and credible) advice on braising technique in Peterson's Sauce's cookbook, and in Harold McGhee's On Food and Cooking.

Has anyone examined MgGhee's braising advice? Here's a summary, from memory:

1) Brown the meat as quickly as possible in a very hot pan. Go fast and hot to keep the layer of well-done meat as thin as possible

2) start the braise UNCOVERED in a cold oven. Set the thermostat to 200 degrees, and give the braise at least 2 hours to get warm in the center. The idea here is to give the meat a lot of time in the magic range between 120 and 140 degrees, where enzyme activity is most intense. This tenderizes and develops the flavor of the meat without drying.

3) turn the meat, cover it, and turn up the oven to 250 degrees. periodically turn the meat and check the temperature inside the pan. Do not let it get anywhere NEAR a boil. Meat will toughen and dry out if it gets above 180 degrees, no matter what its surrounding conditions. 160 degrees or a bit higher is ideal for slow cooking and breaking down the collagen.

Aparently one of the signs of meat cooked like this is that it will remain a deep red in the middle, even though it's well done. It will also maintain much more moisture than meat that's been allowed to simmer.

Any thoughts? I braised some berkshire pork shoulder this weekend, using methods like what Stevens advocates, and was not impressed. The results were dryer than I would have liked. I'm going to try the other half of the shoulder this weekend using the above method, and will report back.

Notes from the underbelly

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That's an interesting technique and not one I've heard before. I know that most of us agree that Molly's braising temps are way to high. I never braise at higher than 250 and sometimes lower depending on how much the liquid is bubbling. But I can't say I've had any problems with dry meat using her recipes, as long as I don't follow her braising temps!

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Made the veal shanks with honey, rosemary and orange this weekend. I love veal shanks anyway, but this was a great recipe. Sweetness form the honey (balanced by wine and balsamic vinegar) and lovely fragrant and floral notes from the rosemary and orange.

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edited to add: I braised on top of the stove, as I usually do. I just find it too hard to control the heat when braising in the oven!

Edited by Chufi (log)
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edited to add: I braised on top of the stove, as I usually do. I just find it too hard to control the heat when braising in the oven!

That's so funny. I braise in the oven because I get better control that way! :laugh:

The food looks and sounds lovely, Chufi.

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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edited to add: I braised on top of the stove, as I usually do. I just find it too hard to control the heat when braising in the oven!

That's so funny. I braise in the oven because I get better control that way! :laugh:

The food looks and sounds lovely, Chufi.

I find that when I use the smallest flame on my gas stive, and a heat diffuser,

I can easily achieve that 'laziest of simmers' Marcella Hazan describes in her recipe for Ragu Bolognese. When I put the pot in the oven, every time I check it it simmers either too hard or it does not simmer at all! I should add that I am a compulsive checker. Much easier to do that with a pot on the stove than one in the oven. Can I get help for this :laugh:

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<previous discussion snipped>

... Can I get help for this  :laugh:

It's called a glass lid. :raz:

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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I did the Caribbean pork shoulder from Molly's book last night. I always add a couple of cups of pork stock instead of the 1/4 cup of water she calls for because I don't think it's enough liquid and it makes the gravy taste great. This is also a berkshire pork shoulder which didn't hurt either :smile:

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gallery_6080_205_47258.jpg

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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Marlene, that is flat-out GORGEOUS! Or should I say gorge-us? I wish I could be there to help gorge on it! Makes me wish we hadn't opted for ribs tomorrow night, but of course we'll be pleased with those - not a Molly Stevens recipe, so I won't go farther OT.

Gorgeous. :wub:

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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I really like this recipe. I always braise pork shoulders this way. And the crisping at the end is a nice bonus. You get the best of both worlds. Crispy fat and nice tender pork.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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  • 2 weeks later...
I really like this recipe.  I always braise pork shoulders this way.  And the crisping at the end is a nice bonus.  You get the best of both worlds.  Crispy fat and nice tender pork.

Hi, Marlene - having admired your pictures and prose regarding the Caribbean Pork Shoulder for quite some time, I'm in the process of making it. It's in the oven and has been braising for about 45 minutes. I wanted to ask you what you thought your preferred temperature is for this one. There's been plenty of discussion about Molly's high temps and I just don't recall if you ever mentioned a preference for this treatment.

I already know that mine isn't going to be as pretty as yours - I ended up with a very oddly shaped, chunky piece of pork (large) and was give the skin separately. I didn't realize what a challenge it would be until trussing time on the counter at home. I ended up with a lumpy uneven specimen wearing the wrong shaped coat of skin/potential crackling! Not to be defeated and not to cast aspersions on the appearance of my potential hero, I soldiered on and tied it up and slathered it with the rub/marinade last night.

Fingers and toes are crossed and I am optimistically hopeful... any thoughts and comments are welcomed.

Rover

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I'm pretty sure it will be fine. :smile: My preferred temp for this is no higher than 250 and if it's still bubbling too much take it down to 245

Good luck, and I'll look forward to hearing about the results!

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I was pleasantly surprised to see so many posts after not checking this thread for awhile.

Marlene - Beautiful pork! Now I've got another recipe I need to try.

Pontormo - I make the chicken recipe a lot, but have never used the cognac because I can't remember to buy any. It's fabulous even with that step omitted. I always dredge the chicken though - I like the brown thickness it adds to the sauce.

Regarding braising temps, I have an Aga so I don't have the choice to start with a cold oven. I tend to use the 325-degree oven quite a lot, with movement to the 250 oven for lighter dishes. Never a problem with dry meat.

Kathy

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  • 1 month later...

As you all probably know I love the Molly book and use it quite often. I've got to figure out how to post pic's :smile: I seem to be challenged in that regard.....

Anyway, I've made the Short Ribs with Rosemary and Maple Syrup a couple times and we like them quite a bit! The recipe out of the Herb Farm book by Jerry Traunfeld is our favorite but this has been our second favorite....until last night :shock:

It was a cloudy, chilly Seattle day and I thought - It's time to try Marlene's Short Rib Recipe - FANTASTIC!!!

Super easy to make and fabulously delicious. I still love Molly and I still love Jerry but darn it - now I love Marlene too!

If you haven't tried them - you should!

Ok - I'll be back to posting on things out of Molly's book next time.

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I know that I'm late to the party, but I just got this book. So far, I've made the chicken with preserved lemons and olives and the beef rendang.

I've read through all the pages on this thread, and it looks like everyone has had success with the beef rendang. When I made it yesterday, my coconut milk never really reduced down. Some of the liquid evaporated, maybe 1/4 to 1/3, but that's it. This was after 5 hours of a gentle simmer on the stovetop.

I ended up just straining the meat out of the liquid. Where did I go wrong? The only thing I can think of is that I used light coconut milk.

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I know that I'm late to the party, but I just got this book. So far, I've made the chicken with preserved lemons and olives and the beef rendang.

I've read through all the pages on this thread, and it looks like everyone has had success with the beef rendang. When I made it yesterday, my coconut milk never really reduced down. Some of the liquid evaporated, maybe 1/4 to 1/3, but that's it. This was after 5 hours of a gentle simmer on the stovetop.

I ended up just straining the meat out of the liquid. Where did I go wrong? The only thing I can think of is that I used light coconut milk.

My friends and I (and I think some uptopic will concur) that her time on the recipe is all wrong. When I've done this dish, I do it in the oven, but move it to the top of the stove, on not so gentle a heat to get things moving and reducing. And, my notes say that while I leave a lid on while it's in the oven for a little bit, I tend to remove the lid fairly early.

And, the frying is odd because there is still a lot of coconut milk gunk (solids).

Edited to add: The pork with lime, coconut and mango works equally well with chicken thighs and one you should make soon! Just look for an overripe mango, and as a matter of fact, when mangos were on sale for next to nothing, I bought a couple of extras, and froze the mangos after removing the skin and pit. Worked like a charm.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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I know that I'm late to the party, but I just got this book. So far, I've made the chicken with preserved lemons and olives and the beef rendang.

I've read through all the pages on this thread, and it looks like everyone has had success with the beef rendang. When I made it yesterday, my coconut milk never really reduced down. Some of the liquid evaporated, maybe 1/4 to 1/3, but that's it. This was after 5 hours of a gentle simmer on the stovetop.

I ended up just straining the meat out of the liquid. Where did I go wrong? The only thing I can think of is that I used light coconut milk.

My friends and I (and I think some uptopic will concur) that her time on the recipe is all wrong. When I've done this dish, I do it in the oven, but move it to the top of the stove, on not so gentle a heat to get things moving and reducing. And, my notes say that while I leave a lid on while it's in the oven for a little bit, I tend to remove the lid fairly early.

And, the frying is odd because there is still a lot of coconut milk gunk (solids).

Edited to add: The pork with lime, coconut and mango works equally well with chicken thighs and one you should make soon! Just look for an overripe mango, and as a matter of fact, when mangos were on sale for next to nothing, I bought a couple of extras, and froze the mangos after removing the skin and pit. Worked like a charm.

Thanks for the tips - it still tasted good, so that's the important thing!

I have mangos in the freezer, the pork will be next on my list of things to make.

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  • 3 months later...

This cookbook was the first thing I pulled out when the weather turned a bit colder here in Chicago, and yesterday was the perfect rainy fall day to be able to braise the Caribbean Pork Shoulder that had been marinating for a day.

It was a standard 6 or so pound butt, with a decent fat cap on one side. Braised for a bit more than 4 hours with temp being eventually dropped to about 270 degrees. This was served with a russet/yukon gold mixed mashed potatoes and creamed spinach with a touch of horseradish. The pork was delicious, silky and tender. I think for the leftovers I will reduce the sauce down a bit, as the marinade flavors were not very strong. Overall a delicious and VERY easy meal to prepare. I am quite excited that it is once again braising season :)

Jamie

BTW-> This might be a good place to ask but I grabbed a Staub Round 2 Quart Cocotte when Amazon had it for $29; just too good a deal to pass up. Now I am curious of things I can make in it? I generally prefer to make large batches of things to vac seal and freeze, so doubt I'd use it for micro versions of recipes. Any good side dishes that would work well?

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  • 1 month later...

For dinner last night, the pork with mango, lime and coconut milk, except I used chicken thighs which I browned, but did pull of the skin. We all agreed that this dish was extremely successful with chicken, and one of the kids and Paul liked it better with chicken. Hint: should you see a really ripe (as in reduced for quick sale) mango at the market, get it. I got one about a month ago, and just cut it up and froze it, which pretty much made this a pantry meal! Leftovers make an outstanding breakfast!

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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  • 2 weeks later...

Susan: Good suggestion about mangos. My problem with putting things in the freezer is that I can never find them again.

Tonight we made the “world’s best braised green cabbage.” I don’t know about “world’s best” – there is a Sichuan recipe I prefer – but it disappeared very quickly. The olive oil/chicken stock-infused onions were particularly nice.

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • 4 weeks later...

And yet another vegetable - braised shallot confit. My one bit of advice: double the recipe. The sauce, a syrupy reduction of butter, cognac, red wine, fresh thyme, and S&P - let’s just say that plates and pots were licked. Thoroughly.

Hey, it's winter - is no one else braising?

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That looks fabulous Bruce. I haven't tried that shallot one yet, but it just went on my list. I am braising tonight as a matter of fact, but not from Molly. My short ribs with Port, Wine and Honey are in the oven as we speak!

Edited by Marlene (log)

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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