The Technique: Braising
Braising: A seemingly Lost Technique. Few People seem to know how to Braise a piece of meat. They may do it, but they just don’t know what it is they are doing, exactly.
Braising defined is: Cooking with Moist-Heat and Low Temperature, for a Long-Time. Moist-Heat is just as essential as the Long-Time and here is why……
Using Moist-Heat, Low Temperature, and Time; Dissolves the Connective tissue in meat, which we find to be tough, into Collagen. The Collagen is then converted to Gelatin. All the while the muscle fibers within the meat are coiled and contracted, releasing most of their moisture. The Long-Time now comes into play. After some time coiled, the fibers then relax. Like a sponge, they soak up the moisture that surrounds them. Moisture that the Chef, You and I, have seasoned just the way we like it!!!!
Result: Moist, Flavorful, Tender Meat! In addition, anything around the meat cooked in this manner also takes on some flavor of the meat. It’s just a Win-Win!
Tenderizes tough meat
makes a wonderful broth
Walk-Away Factor: You can leave it cook while you do other tasks
Some extra Prep.
Takes longer to cook.
This is what I call a “Blank Slate” Dish. I mean, It’s good eatin’ just the way it is, but You can go just about anywhere with this!
For Example: A handful of raisins, another of cranberries, and a bit of clove added to the De-Glazing liquid and reduced would be VERY interesting. No?
- 3-4 lbs Chicken Legs and Thighs
- 5-6 Medium sized Red Potatoes
- 3 Medium Sized Onions
- 5-6 Carrots (Nickle Diameter)
- 3-4 Apples (Any semi-sweet variety works)
- 1 Jug of Apple Juice (use 100% Juice here)
- 2 Cans of College Inn Chicken Broth (or your favorite)
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Salt & Pepper
- Trim the chicken well, remove as much fat as possible but leave the skin on.
- Pre-Heat Oven to 350°F and position the oven rack so your Roasting Pan will be in the Dead-Center of the Oven.
- Core and Cut the Apples into 1/6th sized wedges. **Note1
- Cut the Carrots into 2 inch long pieces. **Note1
- Cut the Onions into roughly the same sized wedges as the Apples. **Note1
- Cut the Potatoes into roughly the same sized pieces as the Onions. **Note1
- Put the Apples, Carrots, Onions, and Potatoes into a large Roasting Pan.
- Add the Chicken Broth and the same amount of Apple Juice to the Roasting Pan.
- Heat a small amount of the Olive Oil in a Skillet.
- Season the Chicken with Salt & Pepper.
- Brown the Chicken Pieces in the Skillet being careful not to crowd the Skillet. Do several Batches so there is never too much chicken in the Skillet. Brown Well.
- Maintain heat in the Skillet after the last batch of chicken is browned. Immediately De-glaze the Skillet with a small amount of Apple Juice. Scrub the Skillet well with a piece of the browned chicken to get as much of the “Good Stuff” up off the bottom of the Skillet. Moderate the heat and reduce slightly.
- Add the reduction along with all the browned Chicken to the Roasting Pan.
- Use the Apple Juice to bring the level of the liquid in the Roasting Pan up to about half-way.
- Cover the Roasting Pan tightly with Aluminum Foil.
- Bake for 1 hour or until the Potatoes are fork-tender and the chicken is just about to fall off the bone. Taste the Chicken, If it seems dry Continue cooking, taste in 10 minute intervals until the Chicken is moist. Record the time and use as YOUR Chicken Braising base-time:__________________________
This can be served as is, or chilled and held to the next day. Holding to the next day seems to meld the flavors a bit better and gives the opportunity to skim some of the excess Chicken Fat from the top.
I do recommend holding for the next day.
Some Interesting Techniques
Note1: All Veggies at approximately the same size.
Cutting all of the Vegetables to about the same size ensures that all of them will be cooked and tender at the same time.
Note2: Brown it, Don’t Crowd it!
Never Crowd your Browning Pan. Browning is the caramelization ,actually the Maillard reaction as caramelization only refers to sugar, of the outer surface of the meat. This occurs at approximately 310°F which requires that all surface moisture has been vaporized and removed from the vicinity of the meat’s surface. Remember: Water vaporizes at 212°F Exactly. If the Pan is too crowded, the water vapor cannot leave the vicinity of the meat’s surface, thereby allowing the temperature to rise above 212°F, and Browning cannot occur. You end up Steaming the meat and not producing the myriad flavors of the Maillard reaction. Specifically those vanillas, astringents, and sweets that we all Love.
Put this in your toolbox! It’s a Core Concept!