Lesson 32: Braising

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

I'm going to try and make this post quick because I'm  EXHAUSTED (and am excited to watch last night's episode of Chef Academy that I DVR'd!).  Today we had our first lesson on braising.  I really enjoyed braising, mostly because it's pretty hard to mess up.  Everything always turns out really tender and succulent.

The first recipe we started was the lamb shanks with juniper and rosemary.  We simply seared the shanks and set them aside.  Next, we browned the mirepoix, juniper berries, and tomato paste.  After adding some red wine, rosemary, and veal stock, we added the shanks back in and finished cooking them in the oven.  We took them out when they were super tender and falling off the bone.  It was amazing.  

Next, we started on the braised chicken thighs with mushrooms and balsamic.  The chicken was seared and removed from the pan before we sweated the shallots and celery.  Then, we added the chicken back to the pan and deglazed with balsamic and chicken stock that was flavored with dried porcini mushrooms and bay leaves.  In the meantime, we sauteed shitake, cremini, oyster, and portobello mushrooms and mixed in some heavy cream.  After straining the chicken liquid, we added in the creamy mushrooms to make the most divine sauce! (Even better than yesterday's truffle butter mushroom cream sauce)

I thought the braised red cabbage recipe was especially interesting.  I usually don't enjoy red cabbage that is salt-wilted or has a ton of vinegar.  This recipe still has some vinegar (so that the cabbage does not turn  blue during the slow cooking process), but it had a sweeter flavor that I really enjoyed.  The recipe started out with bacon (which is never a bad thing).  Also added in were some apples, onions, red wine, sugar, and red currant jelly (and some water for extra moisture)

The braised leeks were very simple to make.  They were sliced in half lengthwise and braised in a mixture of chicken stock, butter, salt, and pepper.  They were so soft and flavorful!  Unfortunately my dad didn't like them, or else I would love to make these again at home :(

The very last item that hit the table was the moroccan monkfish osso bucco.  I have never had monkfish before and was surprised to see how different it is from every other fish we have worked with.  The tail is the only edible part of the fish and the only part we had to fabricate and trim today.  Monkfish is one ugly fish...and weird.  The bone structure is so different because of the large cartilege that runs down the middle of the fish.  That is why it resembles shanks when we cut it into pieces.  We marinated the fish in a "Charmoula" sauce, which consisted of fresh herbs and spices all blended  up.  We braised the fish the same way we braised the lamb and chicken, by searing the fish then adding the liquids and other ingredients, then adding the fish back into the sauce to finish cooking.  It was extremely flavorful with the addition of tomatoes, saffron, green olives, and preserved lemon.

(sorry this picture is blurry.. my camera was dying..)

Tomorrow we're making a classic dish that I've always wanted to make, Osso Bucco, and continuing our lesson on braising!

I would also like to express my new love for kabocha squash.  I had it for the first time today (my mom roasted it with olive oil, salt, pepper, a spice blend, balsamic glaze, and parmesan shavings).. 'twas amazing!  I've read on several blogs that you can eat the skin, which is very good for you.  I was surprised to find it very crispy and not at all bitter.  My new favorite vegetable :)


Anonymous said...

Another evening of amazing food! I especially loved the monkfish, red cabbage, and leeks! Deelish! Love you, Mom

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