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Marlene

Cooking with "All About Braising" by Molly Stevens (Part 1)

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Thanks for chiming in Mamster.

When I did the cabbage (I don't think I reported on it in this thread), I did add bacon and bacon grease, because my great and wise grandmother said that if you cooked cabbage, it had to have pork and pork fat in it.

My kids have liked everything I've cooked from this book, and I can't say that they really appreciate all of my experiments!

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Thanks, Marlene, for starting this thread. Molly's book is so amazing. It's as if a wise and encouraging teacher is at your side. Each time I pick it up to read I find yet another recipe to add to my list to try.

Last night I made her Osso Bucco and Risotto Milanese. My husband loved it (he didn't know about the fennel). Tonight maybe the Vietnamese scallops. Previously have done the Coq au Vin, Stracotto with Garlic and Pancetta, and the Polpettone braised in tomato sauce. Every one a delight to prepare and a gem to eat!

I found out that she is signing books in Buffalo on Satureday and alas! I will be out of town. What I'd really like to do is take a class with her someday. Does anyone know of any?

Amy

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We're expecting another snow storm this afternoon and tomorrow, which will make tomorrow a perfect day for braising I think. Since I've got a pot roast in the freezer, it may be a good day to try Molly's Pot Roast with apples or perhaps the Yankee pot roast redux!

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I don't have the book in front of me so I may get the name of the recipie wrong, but the other night I made the Popeltonne(sp?) braise, which is large veal and ricotta meatballs.They were VERY good.This was delicious served with crusty bread and a salad.

One question though she called for braising in tomato juice and I wasn't sure what that meant.Something like V-8 juice?I used some whole imported tomatoes instead and a little red wine.

Would like to hear any comments from others who have made this.

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Funny you should mention the polpettone, wkl, because that's the seventh recipe that I tried but forgot to report on. I did use tomato juice (just plain, not V8) and was also skeptical, but the sauce was fine. The meatballs, however, were pretty bland. I had no trouble eating several, but it's hard to understand why the headnote was so enthusiastic about them.

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I've discovered the Stracotto with Garlic and Pancetta recipe. This is what I'll make next. Now it needs to marinate for at least 24 hours, so depending on how soon it thaws out, this will either be tomorrow or Wed night's dinner now.

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actually before i got this book, i made sausages with plums after i found a recipe on the web.

They were quite good and more interesting than the traditional sausage-grape combination.

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My book arrived... just this minute!  :smile:

Excellent! Just in time for the winter storm we're about to get!

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Thanks for mentioning the thin cut chuck steaks. Fairly frequently I see really nice ones but I have never figured out what to do with them. Well . . . DUH! Now I know. I think that will be the next thing to try.

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I've discovered the Stracotto with Garlic and Pancetta recipe.  This is what I'll make next.  Now it needs to marinate for at least 24 hours, so depending on how soon it thaws out, this will either be tomorrow or Wed night's dinner now.

I've started this, and of course, I'm taking pictures as I go. I'm figuring how can anything with a whole bottle of red wine, bacon and a full head of garlic be bad?

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I made the chuck braised in Zinfandel yesterday for dinner tomorrow (did some serious braising yesterday!), reheated to day, to be reheated again tomorrow, on the advice of Paula Wolfert. I did take the meat out and put it in a ziplock and am storing the liquid separately, as Paula suggested.

I don't have particularly easy access to Pancetta (although I really wanted to do that recipe) and didn't feel like driving 30 minutes one way to get it.

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I didn't think I had access either, but amazingly, I found pancetta in my local Sobeys!

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I made the short ribs braised in porter with a rosemary maple syrup glaze. It was fantastic. Also the potato/leek recipe is fab.

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has anyone taken Molly's advice and used parchment paper seals under the lid? I feel this made a big difference..In the past, I've mostly used a dutch oven for most braising recipes, and I learned that using a "too big" pot effects the finished product. I've also learned from her book that I've been using too much liquid..and while its easy enough to reduce at the end, I like her approach of reducing the liquid before the braise...that really intensifies the depth of the braising liquid, and the flavor of the finished product as well.

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I'm glad you asked this Kim, because I was going to! I have to admit I have not tried it. Of course, not having braised before, I wouldn't know the difference. I think I will try it with the braise I'm planning for today and see if I can notice any difference.

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has anyone taken Molly's advice and used parchment paper seals under the lid?  I feel this made a big difference..In the past, I've mostly used a dutch oven for most braising recipes, and I learned that using a "too big" pot  effects the finished product.  I've also learned from her book that I've been using too much liquid..and while its easy enough to reduce at the end, I like her approach of reducing the liquid before the braise...that really intensifies the depth of the braising liquid, and the flavor of the finished product as well.

Kim, I have used the parchment paper whenever she has put it in a recipe most recently for Osso Bucco and it seems to work great. It makes the pot fit "just right"( I think, however, that I will have to excercise great restraint and not go nuts buying all sorts of pots for braising).

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Try looking for pancetta at the grocery that has a deli counter with good stuff. I was surprised to find it there and took note for when I get around to trying that recipe. I think what I saw was Boar's Head brand. Of course, not being a big user of panchetta and certainly not an expert, I have no idea how good that is.

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I used the parchment paper for the first time with the short ribs. I think it made a big difference as the sauce was quite rich. Now that I am paying attention to all these details (amount of liquid, size and type of pot etc) it helps to explain why I have been disappointed with my braises in the past.

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Ok . . . Parchment paper has been added to the shopping list.

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My supermarket also carries Boar's Head pancetta (after I requested it!) and the quality is just fine. The only pancetta I wouldn't recommend is the nitrate-free stuff from Whole Foods, which is very fatty and doesn't taste right to me.

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In the past two weeks I've made two beef braises, one pork and two chicken, so I think the first recipe I'll try from the book will be the Morrocan lamb shoulder chops. Just reading the list of spices in the rub makes my knees buckle! As long as my butcher has the lamb chops I'm in business.

I'm of two minds regarding the cooking vessel. She recommends a shallow braiser, which I don't have, or a sauté pan which I do have and could use to keep with her shallow foods shallow pan theory. However, I've always used my deep Le Creuset pots for all braises and feel more comfortable with them. So, I might just stick with one of them but be sure to cover the food with parchment to minimize the head space.

If I can remember, I'll try to take pictures of the process and the results.

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I've got the pot roast in the oven, and I'm testing the parchment paper theory. Two things come to mind right now:

1) I have more trouble ensuring the lid is on properly, and I've had to double check it a couple of times.

2). Normally, I've found with Molly's recipes so far that I have needed to reduce the cooking temperature by 25 or 50 degrees, otherwise it's bubbling to much. So I set the temp for 250 to start, after 20 mintes, I increased it to 275 and now I've increased it again to the original temp of 300. Is the parchment paper preventing it from bubbling?

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Marlene, I did the parchment paper thing on Sunday with the Zinfandel roast. ANd, again, yesterday when I reheated the thing (I'll reheat once again tonight for dinner).

Once I got the lid seated properly, no problems.

As to the temp. It seemed to take longer to get to the bubble/simmer, but once it was there, I had to lower the oven temp to about 240 to keep it from simmering too vigorously.

I also felt like there was less moisture on the paper than there is on the lid.

I think maybe I'll PM Paula and have her chime in.

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felt like there was less moisture on the paper than there is on the lid.

Susan\snowangel, I received your pm.

Please explain what you mean by dry parchment. I always crumble parchment paper under running water then place it directly on top of the food. This works best for me because it helps allow the braise to breathe. Also, I like to think it simulates the old clay daubiere\tagine\cazuela type pot which was the pot of choice years ago when a cook wanted to braise.

I'll get back to you after lunch.


Edited by Varmint (log)

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