Thursday, February 22, 2007

Braised Dinners - Quick and Easy

I love winter but even I feel like it's dragging on at this point. Here is a meal I like to make to help me cope with those cold nights. Braising doesn't take a lot of effort and is a great way to make an inexpensive and perhaps not so tender piece of meat melt in your mouth. The smells of the dish simmering away in the oven will fill your whole house with warmth.

For this recipe I'm going to show you how to braise chicken legs but you could use beef, pork, lamb or turkey. You do want something on the bone as this will help flavour the dish. I cut off any visible fat or skin to help lower the fat content.

Braising consists of 3 simple steps - 1. Brown 2. Add everything to the pot 3. Simmer.

First we brown our meat. Use a 1-2 Tbsp of oil. Heat it in an oven safe frying pan with straight sides and a lid like I have here or use a dutch oven (biggest pot out of your set with 2 handles). If you don't have either then do all you work on the stove in a pan and transfer everything to a round casserole dish before you put it in the oven. You must have a properly fitting lid - this is a must! Heat the oil to medium high. Brown your meat on both sides, about 5 minutes each. Remove them from the pan and put them on a plate to add back in later.

Next brown your aromatics - onion, celery, carrots, garlic, ginger, whatever you want. I used onion and carrots in this dish.
Once they are brown add in your liquid, herbs and flavorings. I used a small can of diced tomatoes, 1 cup of red wine, 2 cloves of garlic, chopped rosemary and a smidge of anchovy paste. Stir it all to blend well and scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. You should still have the pot on the stove so it should all start to simmer together. Add back in your chicken.
Now you are ready to go to the oven. Preheat your oven to 350. Cover your dish and cook it for 40 -50 minutes until the meat is falling off the bone. That's it! That's dinner. You can serve this over rice, pasta, couscous, potatoes, whatever you feel like. Make your own combinations. Just Brown, Mix it all together and Simmer. That's braising!

The nice part about this dish is that it is truly elegant enough for company and you can have it in the oven before dinner guests arrive. But it is also quick and easy enough for a week night. You could even brown everything the night before and even have it all mixed together in a container in your fridge, just put it in a oven safe pot or casserole when you get home, cover it and pop it in the oven. You will have to cook it a little longer to allow time for the food to warm up from fridge temperature. I'd add 10 minutes to the cooking time.

No comments: