Praise the embers.
This method of cooking meat in a humid environment (rather than roasting it in a dry place called an oven) is the perfect porridge for the winter. The best feature of braising is the way it pushes the vacuum out of the house and fills it with such a magnificent aroma. But this is only praise for the embers; there are several others.
With meats, the main advantage of a charcoal is the ability to use less expensive cuts, rich in hard-to-chew connective tissue; the embers break them down into a luxurious, gelatin-rich backdrop to all the aromas of the finished dish. As for stringy vegetables, an embers also soften them.
To highlight the most important and reliable technique behind embers of meat: Brown the meat very well. This causes the Maillard reaction, a chemical reaction that explains the caramelization of proteins and sugars in browned foods of all kinds (cookies, steaks, caramel itself, and roasted vegetables, for example). It is named after the French Louis Camille Maillard who discovered it in the early 1900s.
To do this, make sure you leave enough space between the pieces of meat (typical examples are the beef chuck or the shoulder of lamb) as they brown on the stove before the coals start. The cooks who pile up the pieces of meat are content to steam them. Browning also creates what the French call “to like(The golden bits at the bottom of the post-Maillard pot) which is, as the word suggests, the basis for the rich flavors of the sauce to come as a result of the embers itself.
Deglaze the to like in a pan with a little white or red wine (depending on the heaviness of the meat) or apple cider or tart cherry juice with low sugar content; 1 cup should do. Then when you add the liquid you are going to braise the meat with – preferably broth, although plain water works too – pour just enough to get halfway over the meat.
Do not use wine or juice alone as a braising liquid. Ultimately, due to the evaporative concentration and leaching of flavors from the meat, the sauce might just get too strong and clunky.
The mantra is: deglaze with wine (or juice); braise with broth.
I always thought it was important to cover the meat with the braising liquid, but it doesn’t make sense. In truth, it just diffuses the flavors. Plus, meat (and veg, if you use any) will give off a lot of their own moisture, so flush it out with the liquid.
Overall, choose and use an appropriate pot to ensure successful browning and braising. Good browning requires a heavy-bottomed Dutch oven or casserole dish. And a large, well-open pan is better than a pot with high sides, so for the embers itself the meat should rest on the bottom in a single layer, with the braising liquid poured evenly around it.
When you have free time in your kitchen, prepare yourself for both classics garnished bouquets and some spice bouquets. The first are sprigs of thyme and parsley and a bay leaf tied together with kitchen twine. And these are the same ingredients, in a small sachet of gauze, tied around the neck with string, which also includes a few peppercorns and a peeled clove of garlic.
For my garnished bouquets, I like to use a green leek “leaf” as an envelope. Both types of bouquets can be frozen and used as needed. You will need one or the other to flavor the embers while cooking, then remove it for serving.
Lastly, I had also thought that braising vegetables – carrots and onions are common, but turnips, celery, mushrooms and potatoes are also often played – should accompany the meat. But an embers usually last a long time (more than two hours is not uncommon) and can boil vegetables as well as render their flavors bland.
So add the vegetables for about an hour (depending on their size, maybe as little as 45 minutes) before estimating that the embers are going to end. Some of the fresh flavors will stick and that’s a bonus.
Today’s recipe is a riff on a classic Italian treat for pork loin braised in milk (yes, milk). It uses thick pork chops instead of a whole loin. It’s delicious, especially its sauce which can end up tasting like caramel (unsweetened) or Sugar Baby candy.
I want to say.
Some of the best braised meat recipes:
Milk-braised pork chops
6 pork chops, 1 inch or thicker
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1-2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper
2 cups whole milk, at room temperature
6 garlic cloves, peeled
6 sprigs of fresh sage (or less if the leaves are very large)
Peels of 1 small lemon (with little or no white pith)
Heat the oven to 325 degrees. In a large Dutch oven or enameled cast iron saucepan, over medium-high heat, sear the chops in the olive oil and butter mixture until nicely browned on both sides, seasoning with the salt and ground pepper as you go.
Add the milk and the rest of the ingredients, taking care to prevent the milk from foaming when pouring it. Arrange the garlic, sage and lemon around the chops in the milk.
Bring to a boil on the heat, then cover, lid slightly open, and place in the oven for at least 2 hours, turning the chops twice during cooking, until the chops are tender and the milk has started to curdle. or little liquid remains in the pot. (You can also braise on the stovetop, over very low heat, for about the same amount of time.)
However, if the liquid evaporates before the pork is cooked, add more milk in small amounts as needed to maintain the embers. On the other hand, at the end of cooking, if there is still significant liquid in the pan, remove the chops on a hot plate and try with aluminum foil, and collect the lemon zest and the sage sprigs. Reduce the liquid by scraping the bottom of the pan until the sauce is thickened.
Serve with oiled, herb and seasoned roasted potatoes and steamed or wilted greens flavored with chili flakes and garlic.
Braised Belgian endives
Fibrous vegetables, such as leeks or Belgian endives, benefit from a charcoal, just like meats. Extract from “Provence the Beautiful Cookbook” by Richard Olney. Makes 4-6 serving as a side dish.
1 1/2 pound Belgian endive
Salt to taste
1 ounce of raw ham such as prosciutto, cut into matchsticks
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
Juice of 1/2 lemon
6 tablespoons heavy whipped cream
Butter an explosion-proof terracotta casserole dish or heavy sauté pan just size to hold the endives. Arrange them in the casserole dish in a single layer. Sprinkle with salt to taste and sprinkle the ham over it. Place the pieces of butter on the endives. Cover tightly and sweat over very low heat, checking occasionally and turning them, until very tender and colored on all sides, 50-60 minutes.
Add the lemon juice and turn the endives to coat them evenly. Pour the cream over the endives, turn the saucepan to gently swirl the contents and serve.
Contact Bill St. John at [email protected]