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Some good reasons in favor of long, slow cooking, called braising

Braising is a cooking method especially good for certain cuts of meat because the moisture tenderizes. Economical cuts that are sometimes tough but flavorful can be made very appetizing.

Beef chuck, veal or lamb shanks, pork chops, and variety meats such as liver, heart, kidneys, and tongue are excellent. Chicken, turkey, and wild game are also especially flavorful prepared in this way.

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The long, slow method of cooking meat and vegetables together, closely covered, was invented by prehistoric cooks who realized that this process made the meat tender and toothsome.

The name originated during the reign of Louis XIV, when a young Gascon named Braise received a silver gridiron as a prize in a cooking contest for the excellence of a dish prepared in this way.

In braising, the meat is usually seared on the outside and then cooked slowly , covered, on the range or in the oven in a skillet, Dutch oven, or casserole, until the meat is tender. The vegetables and liquid in the casserole make a sauce whose flavor goes all through the meat.

Some say searing is not necessary; that the meat will gradually brown as it cooks. Others find that browning seals in the juices and provides a rich color and flavor for the sauce. Braised Lamb Shanks 6 lamb shanks All-purpose flour 3 tablespoons salad oil 1 29-ounce can tomatoes 2 teaspoons seasoned salt 1 teaspoon paprika 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder 1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves 3 medium onions, quartered 1 pound zucchini, cut in chunks 1 medium eggplant, cut in chunks

On waxed paper, coat lamb shanks with 3 tablespoons flour. In 8-quart Dutch oven, over medium-high heat, cook shanks a few at a time in hot salad oil until well browned on all sides. Return all shanks to Dutch oven.

Add tomatoes with liquid and next 4 ingredients. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer 1 hour. Stir in onions, zucchini, and eggplant. Cover and simmer 1/2 hour longer or until shanks and vegetables are fork-tender.

With slotted spoon, place shanks and vegetables on warm platter. In cup, blend 2 tablespoons flour with 1/4 cup water until smooth.

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Gradually stir into liquid in Dutch oven and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is thickened. Serve sauce over shanks and vegetables. Serves 6. Skillet-Braised Pork Chops, Italian-style 6 rib, top-loin, or loin pork chops, each cut about 1-inch thick 1 8-ounce can tomato sauce with mushrooms 1 small green pepper, cut in strips 1/2 teaspoon oregano 1 8-ounce package mozzarella cheese, cut in 6 slices

Trim piece of fat from edge of a chop. In 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat, rub piece of fat over bottom of skillet to grease it well. Discard fat.

Add chops and cook until browned on both sides. Add tomato sauce, green pepper, and oregano. Reduce heat to low.

Cover and simmer 45 minutes or until meat is fork-tender. During last 5 minutes, top each chop with a slice of cheese. Serves 6. Braised Carrots with Herbs 1 pound carrots, peeled and sliced 2 tablespoons cooking oil 1/2 teaspoon butter or margarine 1/4 teaspoon each salt, chives, parsley

In saucepan, saute carrots in hot oil 3 minutes, then cook covered until tender. Stir in butter, salt to taste, and herbs. Serves 4.

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