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from the C@H Kitchionary


To brown protein - most often meat - and then finish covered, on the stovetop or oven, with some measure of liquid. Braising is similar to stewing, only the amount of liquid differs and browning isn't a prerequisite to stewing.

C@H: Sound familiar - the process, not the term? Our grandmothers were pretty clever, using just one cast iron pot to brown the S&P-seasoned, Saturday night pot roast, braising it in a bit of plain hot water or stock - adding some potatoes and carrots part way through the cooking time, then making dreamy gravy from the pan juices and bits of lusciousness stuck to the bottom of the pan after browning.

braised chicken 325x225Braising is similar to stewing, only the amount of liquid differs and browning isn't a prerequisite to stewing. Braising meat is a fantastic way to save time and money, and to practice a time-honoured pro-kitchen method of cooking.  Less glamorous, less expensive cuts of meat take on a whole new beauty when braised and cooked  in a flavourful sauna.

The braised chicken pictured at right is a C@H quick and easy recipe.  We used quartered boneless, skinless breasts and legs, and then dredged them lightly in well-seasoned flour.  We browned the lot in 50/50 butter and olive oil in a deep lidded pot, then removed the meat and deglazed the pot with a small amount of chicken stock.  We then made a roux with the remaining seasoned dredging flour and added an inch or so more stock  - just enough to make a thin gravy - and brought it to bubbling.  We returned the browned chicken to the pot and sprinkled some thinly sliced chanterelle mushrooms plus a few cherry tomato halves over top, then covered and baked the chicken in the oven at 350F for about 30 minutes.  We removed the pot lid about 2/3 way through baking and turned the oven up to 400F so that the mushrooms and tomatoes oven-dried somewhat, concentrating their flavours and imparting a rustic, country elegance to the dish.  We served the chicken and its juices over roasted garlic mashed potatoes.

braised short ribs 325x225Served family style or individually plated for dining room guests, braised dishes most-often look beautiful and sophisticated.  For individual service, mound rice, potato or root vegetable mash, ring or nest vegetables alongside (cooked with or separately from the braised protein), top with a single serving of the protein, and finish with a spoonful or two of the braising liquid "sauce".

**Depending on what the braising liquid is, and how much of it remains after cooking will determine whether or not you want to use it as-is, or make a reduction sauce. To make a simple reduction sauce, remove the protein and veg from the braising pot and tent to keep warm. Put the braising pot on the stovetop on high heat and evaporate out the water until as thick as you like it, or the liquid coats the back of a spoon. Season with salt and pepper to taste. The resulting reduction sauce has beautiful concentrated flavours and looks gorgeous on the plate. Yet another shortcut is to remove some of the braising liquid from the braising pot before cooking time has expired, then reduce the liquid in a saucepan on the stovetop. Choosing a shallow, wide saucepan will increase evaporation and reduce the reduction time, but any saucepan will do.


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