As we rapidly approach the holiday season the last thing most of us want to do is spend any more time in the kitchen then we have to. Knowing that we will be recruiting the family to help with the baking and full-on holiday food spread, why not make things easy until then.
Braising is easy to do and simplifies a meal quickly by being able to cook everything at the same time. Braising sounds fancy but it couldn’t be any simpler and will allow you to fix it and forget it. Simply put braising is cooking in a small amount of liquid, tightly covered until tender.
The key to braising is to start with a large pot or Dutch oven to hold the amount of food you plan to prepare. Make sure you start with a hot flame, well seasoned protein and sear on both sides. Remove to a plate and add any vegetables you have on hand. Sauté vegetables in the rendered fat until they start to take on some color.
Place the protein back in the pot, on top of the vegetables and add stock, wine or both until its level reaches about three quarters the way up the sides of the protein. Cover and bake or stove top roast on low until the meat is tender and falling apart.
Tougher cuts of meat benefit from braising because the cooking environment is such that you can let it cook for hours on a gentle heat until tender. The rich braising liquid becomes a part of the meal to finish off the tender, perfectly cooked meat and vegetables in the form of a sauce. It also makes an incredible gravy for mash potatoes.
Give this one a try and guaranteed you will come up with several ideas of your own using the braising technique.
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Hunter Style Chicken with Fennel & Sausage
Serves 4 to 6 as an Entrée
· 4 to 6 Each-Chicken Thighs-skin on, bone
· To Taste-Kosher Salt
· To Taste-Black Pepper
· 1/4 Cup-Extra Virgin Olive Oil
· 3 Links-Italian Sausage-cut into 3 pieces each
· 2 Tablespoons-Unsalted Butter
· 1 Bulb-Fennel-stem removed and sliced into 1/8th’s
· 4 Each-Vidalia Onions
· 3 Each-Carrot-cut into 2 inch pieces
· 6 Cloves-Garlic-smashed
· 2 Tablespoons-Fresh Oregano
· 1/4 Cup-Tomato Paste
· 2 Cups-White Wine-Pinot Grigio
· 3 to 4 Cups-Chicken Stock
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
In a large skillet or Dutch oven warm the olive oil over medium high heat. Season both sides of chicken and place in the pot. Begin browning on both sides until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Remove and place on a plate while preparing the reaming ingredients.
Lower heat to medium low and add the sausage pieces, brown sausage on all sides. Add fennel onion, carrot and garlic. Cook stirring frequently about 6 to 8 minutes, add the oregano and tomato paste, stir to combine. Cook until the tomato paste melts into the pan.
Add wine and begin scrapping the bottom of the pan to bring up any of the brown bits to incorporate them into the sauce.
Add the chicken back into the pot along with its juices. Add chicken stock, cover the pot and place in preheated oven for 45 minutes to one hour or until the chicken is falling of the bone.
Remove the chicken, sausage and vegetables from the pot (separately) and set aside and cover with foil to keep warm.
Place pot back on stove over medium high heat and reduce slightly to make sauce.
Serve family on a platter with all three components in groups, or assemble on individual plates with a portion of the vegetables, a piece of chicken and sausage. Top with the pan juices.