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


Marlene
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I am late to this party - as usual - but, like everyone else, I can't recommend this book any more heartily. If it's not as elegantly/thoughtfully written as, say, Judy Rogers' Zuni Cafe book, it's absolutely a solid handbook with some really winning recipes for both old stalwarts and stuff that was new to me.

Champs so far:

--Zinfandel Pot Roast (absolutely use parsnips)

--Coq au Vin

--Maple-glazed Short Ribs (I actually think the rosemary in the maple glaze is a distraction - maple syrup and double the horseradish would be better)

--Braised potatoes

--Smothered Steaks (double the sherry; perfect rainy-Sunday food_

--Salmon Fillets in Red Wine (reduce the braising liquid further before putting the assembled pot in the oven)

The only real dud has been the braised whole chicken with bread stuffing - the stuffing is pretty wan (sitting in liquid doesn't help the texture, either), and the chicken ended up being a bit tough.

Hooray for All About Braising! I have red-cooked pork belly cooking right now - I'll keep this book out all year, I'm sure, for meat in the winter and fish and vegetables in the summer.

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It was a very cold (40 degree F) with howling wind today. There was actually a windchill! So, it was time to braise. I had everthing except tomatoes. I used the muir glen roasted tomatoes I thought I had for something else, so I did go to the market and get romas. After touching just about all of them, I selected the right ones.

So, it was onto the country pork ribs with roasted tomatoes and peppers with chipotle. I had roasted red peppers in the freezer. It was one of those late summer at the farmer's market moments last year. A half bushel for $3.00. Who can resist? Who can use them all immediately? Roasting to the rescue.

This turned out to be sort of a comedy of errors.

Everything seemed to come together well. I modified in that I did not crush or grind the cumin seeds. Like fifi, (and Paul and the kids), like that unexpected burst of cumin. I added a couple of tablespoons more of the adobe than she suggests. (reminder. don't count measures when on the phone.)

But, one child developed a bloody nose just after I had poured the braising liquid over the meat, but before I had covered and gotten it into the oven. So at 45 minutes, no action. So, I upped the oven temp. Once going. I monitored. FIgured out at what point it is barely bubbling (260). Mentime, everyone but me is tired and naps. So, I set the heat down.

So, we finally sit down to dinner. This was wonderful. Absolutly another outstanding recipe. I love braising. It is so forgiving of what happens to a family on a night when things don't go as planned.

If I hadn't conned my cousin into watching Peter and Heidi tomorrow night, and didn't feel that he would appreciate such a great dish, I would turn it into an egg thing tomorrow. But, I have the satisfaction of knowing that this will be one dish he will request again!

Add it to the list of hits.

Edited by snowangel (log)
Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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. . . . .

So, we finally sit down to dinner.  This was wonderful.  Absolutly another outstanding recipe.  I love braising.  It is so forgiving of what happens to a family on a night when things don't go as planned. 

. . . . .

Heh heh. Susan, you have really hit on the absolute charm of braised dishes. They are so forgiving of real life. What else can sit around in the oven and sigh . . . "OK. Just go ahead and ignore me. I will be here when you need me. I know. You don't think I am important. But I am still here. I will fill your belly when you happen to notice. And I will be really good. But . . . Do you notice? I wonder? (Sigh.) I don't get any respect. I am just a pot of braised goodness. (Sigh.) If I were that sexy grilled whatever I would probably get more attention. (Sigh.)"

Braised dishes are the Eeyore of my kitchen repertoire.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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It's cool and rainy here this weekend. We've company tonight, so it will be prime rib, but yesterday's visit to my favourite butcher produced two lovely pot roasts. I haven't tried the Zinfidel pot roast yet and as I read through the recipe yesterday, I realized this could be Sunday's dinner.

And before you ask, the rule in our house is "you can never have too much beef" :biggrin:

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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I was sinfully envious of all the lovely clay pots in the clay pot thread and never expected that I would own one in the near future. But, serendipity kicked in. I had to go into Toronto to accompany someone for a medical app't and low and behold I found this lovely pot. It was labelled a paella dish but doesn't resemble one in the least. It's 3" deep and 10 1/2" in diameter. It is made in Italy and is glazed only on the inside. It came without a lid but as you can see, a lid from my cupboard fits just fine. So I did Molly's "smothered steak" in it and it turned out amazingly, meltingly, flavourful. What surprised me most was how low I needed to turn my oven to keep this at a bare simmer - 225F! I used Paula's technique of crumbled wet parchement over the braise. I made this steak on Thursday and then yesterday I used the same clay pot and technique to braise a Georgian Pork stew (from epicurious.com).

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Ready to go into the oven. I browned in a skillet.

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The lid.

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Ready for the table.

Anna Nielsen aka "Anna N"

...I just let people know about something I made for supper that they might enjoy, too. That's all it is. (Nigel Slater)

"Cooking is about doing the best with what you have . . . and succeeding." John Thorne

Our 2012 (Kerry Beal and me) Blog

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I did the Zinfidel Pot Roast tonight. I used a rump roast for this one.

Browning the roast:

gallery_6080_825_39792.jpg

The wine, carrots and onion. I didn't have any celery

gallery_6080_825_55027.jpg

Added fresh parsley and sage:

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Even though we had carrots last night, I decided to try the glazed carrots anyway. I used baby carrots. (have I mentioned how much I hate peeling carrots?) Be aware that baby carrots take a lot longer than the sliced carrots Molly calls for.

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I've ordered a brisket from my butcher and the Pot roast with rubarb and honey sounds interesting for the next one!

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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Ah, Marlene. And, we thought braising season was over! I have shared tidbits of this book with three friends, all of whom have purchased the book and are enjoying it.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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I'm planning on the country ribs, roasted tomatoes, and chipotle dish this evening as it has cooled down 20 degrees from yesterday's 94 - she calls for a large gratin or baking dish, rather than a dutch oven. Although she doesn't explain why, I think it might be to enable the sauce to caramelize better during the last 30 minutes. I'm having a devil of a time finding a baking dish big enough for the four pieces of meat I'm working with - does anyone think the short sides of the baking dish are necessary? - I know they'll fit in my dutch oven....

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Since I decided to switch to the big oven [Chambers] instead of the smaller convection [Cadco] I put it all in the big AC saute pan I used to brown the meat and cook the onions and sauce - smelling good right now - I'd better eat something else soon or I won't be able to save this for the second-day unveiling....

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I did the milk braised pork the other day. The milk curdled just as described and as I expected. I don't mind it at all but, just for the heck of it, I added some cream. A few pulses with the Bamix and it was quite lovely. Actually, I didn't have any cream in the house but I did have a jar of Mexican Crema. I am guessing that I added about 3 tablespoons. It didn't seem to need the lemon. I did add in some more sage when I was boiling it down. The sage seemed to exit stage left during the braising. I didn't have fresh and had to use dried. I like the combination of sage and fennel a lot.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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I did the bistekas rancheras today. No pics, but maybe later. I upped the roasted poblanos to four, left out the potatoes, used Spanish Sherry vinegar and baked for 1 1/2 hours at 250 in a table top Delonghi convection oven (no fan blowing).

Incredible! It goes on the keeper list in a big way.

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I did the Zinfidel Pot Roast tonight.  I used a rump roast for this one.

<snip>

gallery_6080_825_23356.jpg

<snip>

Marlene, I just made this recipe two nights ago, and yours looks so much better than mine! I'm jealous.

Mine was a bit dry, and I'm not sure what the cause was - I did use a top round roast that Molly does not recommend (it was on sale - now I know why). The cooking liquid came up the sides of the roast about halfway, so I think I had enough - it was also all there when the roast was done, so it didn't percolate away...cooked the 3 lb roast at 300 for about 3 hours. I wonder if that was too long...? Hmm.

Things improved after a day in the fridge, soaking in the cooking juices.

...wine can of their wits the wise beguile, make the sage frolic, and the serious smile. --Alexander Pope

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Top round, eye of round and other such cuts do not have enough connective tissue to convert to gelatin during long cooking at low temperatures and give that succulent texture like chuck or brisket does. Add in the fact that it does not have much fat and there is not much you can do. Andiesenji posted somewhere here about a recipe where she braised some eye of round (I think) that was cut into steaks before braising. Apparantly that helped.

I am always tempted when those big ole hunks of protein go on sale to try to make something edible out of it. Success is rare.

Linda LaRose aka "fifi"

"Having spent most of my life searching for truth in the excitement of science, I am now in search of the perfectly seared foie gras without any sweet glop." Linda LaRose

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Actually, that makes me feel better, because it was the cut of meat, and not my technique!! :biggrin::raz: After two days sitting in the cooking liquid, it has finally reached an acceptable stage of moistness - good enough for sandwiches with plenty of mayo.

I'll be interested to try the same recipe with a different cut of meat. Only variation I made to the printed recipe was to use rosemary instead of sage - my rosemary bushes have gotten completely out of hand, and since I was trimming them, I just trimmed a little more.

...wine can of their wits the wise beguile, make the sage frolic, and the serious smile. --Alexander Pope

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Heh heh. Susan, you have really hit on the absolute charm of braised dishes. They are so forgiving of real life.  What else can sit around in the oven and sigh . . . "OK. Just go ahead and ignore me. I will be here when you need me. I know. You don't think I am important. But I am still here. I will fill your belly when you happen to notice.  And I will be really good. But . . . Do you notice? I wonder? (Sigh.) I don't get any respect. I am just a pot of braised goodness. (Sigh.) If I were that sexy grilled whatever I would probably get more attention. (Sigh.)"

Braised dishes are the Eyore of my kitchen repertoire.

I would call them the Marvin of my kitchen repertoire... oh well. I guess it's a generational thing.

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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Heh heh. Susan, you have really hit on the absolute charm of braised dishes. They are so forgiving of real life.  What else can sit around in the oven and sigh . . . "OK. Just go ahead and ignore me. I will be here when you need me. I know. You don't think I am important. But I am still here. I will fill your belly when you happen to notice.  And I will be really good. But . . . Do you notice? I wonder? (Sigh.) I don't get any respect. I am just a pot of braised goodness. (Sigh.) If I were that sexy grilled whatever I would probably get more attention. (Sigh.)"

Braised dishes are the Eyore of my kitchen repertoire.

I would call them the Marvin of my kitchen repertoire... oh well. I guess it's a generational thing.

Huh. I never realized the similarity between those two characters, until just now. :huh::laugh:

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
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Re viva's post and fifi's reply, I just made a braise -- not one of Molly's -- with boneless beef shoulder chuck. It came out pretty dense and dry. The butcher had trimmed off pretty much all the external fat before he tied it. When it was done, it had a hard-ish, gelatinous looking strip of fat running through it -- should this have melted? Did the butcher trim too much fat? Or did I do something wrong? I cooked in in wine (almost covered) on top of the stove for about 3 1/2 hours for 3 1/2 - 4 lbs. It was hard to get the temp right and I spent the whole time hovering in order to correct the flame that kept either sending it all to a boil or letting it die to a sub-simmer. Was that the problem?

Anyway, I'm back to Molly for my next braise!

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It was hard to get the temp right and I spent the whole time hovering in order to correct the flame that kept either sending it all to a boil or letting it die to a sub-simmer.  Was that the problem?

Anyway, I'm back to Molly for my next braise!

Better off, IMHO, to go the oven route. Less trouble with temp control. And, yes, that "thing" should have melted away, providing a succulence not achievable without that melting.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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Looks like Molly won a James Beard Foundation award. Click here and scroll down to page 5. Award for a single topic.

But, we knew this book was a winner all along!

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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I made the Zinfandel Pot Roast from All About Braising yesterday. I cooked it yesterday, to be eaten today. (People had mentioned that it is better a day or two later.) The smell was absolutely amazing and the meat is tender as can be, but there was practically no liquid left in the pot. Quite a bummer, 'cause you are supposed to use 1/2 C. of the liquid to make the carrots, but what's even worse... no liquid for gravy, :sad: , and I love gravy. I kept rereading the recipe, thinking that I misread it, and should have put in a bottle of wine, but it still says 1 C. (I keep expecting it to change.) I have no fancy stocks, so is there any way to make a gravy today? I really want gravy, the heck with the carrots. What did I do wrong?

"My only regret in life is that I did not drink more Champagne."

John Maynard Keynes

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Bella, I've been puzzling over what happened with your braise. What kind of pan did you use? Stove or oven? Parchment crumpled or not? Perhaps Paula will see this and give some sage and wise advice.

On another note. It was cold here today. We topped out at 34 degrees (f), and it was rainy (and there were some flakes of the "S" word mixed in with the rain). So, when I was at the meat market today, there were some absolutely beautiful bone-in pork country ribs. Some extremely ripe mangos at the supermarket on the TPR rack.

I always have coconut milk, garlic, ginger, hot peppers, and limes.

It was destined to be. Molly's pork with lime, coconut and mango.

My dad has been in hospital for quite some time, and my mom has been doing most of the duty. So, when we visited tonight, it was with a container of leftovers, two plates, a corning ware thing that they can reheat said leftovers, dishes, placemats. And, some slaw. The cruchy slaw is a nice play on this dish, as Molly suggests.

Susan Fahning aka "snowangel"
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Snowangel, thanks for your response. I made the roast in my trusty Staub cast iron roaster. I wet and crumbled the parchment like Paula recommended and cooked it in the oven. There really wasn't much liquid to begin with, figuring that you reduced the cup of wine and then again the cup of broth. I was really disappointed. Now I need to find a pot roast recipe that gives a lot of liquid for a lot of gravy, for potatoes as well as veggies. Any ideas?

"My only regret in life is that I did not drink more Champagne."

John Maynard Keynes

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