For this week’s Two Spoonfuls post, I’m tackling Chapter #6 of Alton Brown’s I’m Just Here For The Food. This week’s technique: Braising. Braising and Stewing both begin with searing or pan frying the main ingredient and finishing the cooking by simmering. The meat is seared, to brown it, then cold water and veggies are added, the dish is covered and the entire dish is simmered “slow & low”, to achieve maximum flavor and tenderness of the meat.
The difference between a Braise and a Stew:
Braise = uses a large piece of meat, small amount of liquid, covered and cooked on low heat.
Stew = uses lots of smaller pieces of meat, submerged in liquid, covered and cooked on low heat.
This was a fun chapter for me, because I love a good braise or stew. Especially in the Fall and Winter.
It was a bit tricky to find oxtails in August, but my persistent husband managed to find some frozen at our local grocery. Braises and Stews are great “One Pot” meals, that (for the most part) don’t leave you with a sink full of dishes when you’re done. They also tend to make quite a bit of food – and it keeps getting better as leftovers. Leftovers can also be frozen for nights when you don’t want to cook! And above all – they just taste good. All that cooking time results in a wonderful, tender meat and savory sauce.
Alton gives us a few bonus tips in this chapter – including a section all about Pressure Cookers. (I don’t own one – do you?)
Alton also includes a selection of recipes to try out your new Braising/Stewing skills.
I really wanted to try Oxtails, but Alton doesn’t provide a recipe for these, so I used an Emeril recipe for Braised Oxtails with Sweet Potato Pudding and Fried Okra. I’m not a fan of okra – so I left that part out. Overall this recipe was easy, and definitely a learning experience:
Emeril calls for cutting the oxtail into 1″ pieces. This is very difficult to do, since the tail bones are not straight, but instead branch out into the meat. I left mine whole and ate the meat off the bones when they were finished.
Like most recipes, the browning will take longer than you expect. Factor that in.
(The finished dish!)
We didn’t like the Sweet Potato Pudding. It was extremely sweet, and had alot of butter pooled at the top. Plus, the meat is so tasty, it would have been much better paired with a simple starch: plain mashed potatoes or cooked rice.
The Oxtails and their accompanying sauce = fabulous!
And now I’m going to sign off on the last Two Spoonfuls post for me. I think this series has run it’s course. I’ve enjoyed trying new recipes, new techniques and learning from the great Alton Brown. I want to thank everyone who has been reading along and commenting on this series of cooking blog posts.
I’ll still be blogging about my kitchen adventures, but not on a set schedule.
As Julia would say: “Bon Appétit!”
Jenn : )