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Jacques Gastreaux
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I looked at the weather forecast and discovered a braise front was moving in. My braising repertoire consists of stew, pot roast, goulash, carbonnade, short ribs (Al Dente recipe), lamb shanks, and veal stew. I use a Le Creuset pot and a long, low cook. Typical accompaniments are mashed potatoes or spaetzel. I'm thinking of trying some grits or polenta.

When I'm braising beef, I almost always use a chuck pot roast that I bought on sale at Giant and either cut it up myself.

I'm willing to expand my repertoire and thought I would tap into the collective and see what others do, hence the question: What's in your pot?

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I looked at the weather forecast and discovered a braise front was moving in. 

I like it! We think the same way.

Anyway, here's my rather sketchy recipe for comfort food pot roast. Haute cuisine it is not.

Brown a rump roast on all sides in a mix of rendered pork fat (eg, fat back, salt pork, bacon) and oil, then place in a pot just large enough to hold it. Brown some coarsely chopped celery, carrot, and onion briefly in the same pan, then add to the pot with the roast. Deglaze the pan with some light stock (eg water + beef or veal stock) and add to the pot. Add some red wine. The liquid should about half cover the roast. Add a small handful of rinsed dry porcini, half a cinnamon stick, one clove, a bay leaf, a pinch of thyme, a sprig of rosemary, and salt and pepper to taste.

Put a lid on it and cook at 375 for several hours - until falling apart tender. (According to aCook's Illustrated article I once read, if you want it really tender, get it to 210 inside and keep cooking for another hour.)

Strain the liquid, reduce if necessary (it seldom is), and thicken if desired with a little flour/water slurry or beurre manie .

I like to serve this with spaetzle or mashed potatoes. Or roasted potatoes. And candied carrots. And the rest of the bottle of wine. And coconut cake for dessert. :)

I don't believe I've ever shared this recipe with anyone. Let me know what you think if you try it.

If I didn't have to work the next few days I'd be making a big batch of pozole. I ain't sharin' that recipe, though.

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I looked at the weather forecast and discovered a braise front was moving in.  My braising repertoire consists of stew, pot roast, goulash, carbonnade, short ribs (Al Dente recipe), lamb shanks, and veal stew.  I use a Le Creuset pot and a long, low cook.  Typical accompaniments are mashed potatoes or spaetzel.  I'm thinking of trying some grits or polenta.

When I'm braising beef, I almost always use a chuck pot roast that I bought on sale at Giant and either cut it up myself. 

I'm willing to expand my repertoire and thought I would tap into the collective and see what others do, hence the question: What's in your pot?

PLEASE, PLEASE go to epicurious.com and look up "Braised Lamb Shanks with Winter Squash and Red Chard." The squash and chard are not the point. This is the BEST, BEST recipe for lamb shanks EVER. I made this for a serious meeting and the President of our association declared these "AWESOME." No kidding. Do yourself a favor (and the people you wish to feed !) and make these. I usually just make some coucous to go with them. Whatever. This stuff is really, really GOOD.

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bourguignonne

1 inch cubes of chuck blade. Brown them and remove from pot

Sweat some lardons and whatever vegetables you want.

Return meat to pan. Throw in a bottle of red.

Put in low oven to simmer for a few hours.

PM me and I'll forward the exact recipe I use.

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Typical accompaniments are mashed potatoes or spaetzel.  I'm thinking of trying some grits or polenta.

Grits?! Polenta?! You are a wild man! :)

Instead of beef why not do a pork shoulder or some pork belly? Flavor it depending on what you are in the mood for that day.

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Grits?!  Polenta?!  You are a wild man!  :)

Instead of beef why not do a pork shoulder or some pork belly?  Flavor it depending on what you are in the mood for that day.

Port shoulder and belly are not as readily available as beef chuck is. Heck the local Giant has it on sale frequently and it is on sale this week at Harris Teeter for $2.49/lb.

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Maybe I am just not getting it or braising the correct way but whenever I braise it ends up as stew, regardless of the cut of meat.

Am I missing something or do I need new recipes?

Stewing, braising-- same thing basically. It's the same cooking technique, but I think of a stew as being a little more soupy. If you serve it in a bowl, it's a stew. You could serve pot roast or short ribs on a plate. Or in a large trough as I'm known for doing. :)

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Braising is the cooking technique used for stews. But other recipes also call for braising, such as pot roast and lamb shanks and short ribs. I tend to agree that a stew generally has a thinner liquid than say a carbonnade or a goulash.

And HERE is the recipe I use for goulash. My kids beg me for it.

Edited by Jacques Gastreaux
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I thought the difference was that braising involved only partially covering the meat in liquid, while stewing submerges the meat (I realized awhile back that I'd basically been stewing everything... most cookbooks don't make much of a distinction between braising and stewing).

The four-part EGullet 'braising lab' they did this year was pretty interesting (though it raises more questions than it answers).

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Maybe I am just not getting it or braising the correct way but whenever I braise it ends up as stew, regardless of the cut of meat.

Am I missing something or do I need new recipes?

I presume that what you mean by this is that if you cook meat on the bone, it falls off and breaks up into chunks or shreds. My clinical diagnosis of this symptom is: too hot/too longitis. Cooking a stew or braise as Porcupine suggests above, for several hours at 375 degrees, is going to leave you with paradoxically dry, falling-apart meat. That's just too hot and too long IMO. Water boils at 220, and at 375, you've got a really vigorous boil going. You want to gently poach the meat for optimal texture.

My recommended course of treatment is:

Cook in a cast iron pot with a tight-fitting, heavy lid, enameled if possible.

Don't completely submerge the meat, as suggested above.

Bring pot up to gentle boil on stove top before putting in the oven.

2 hours at 275, or 3 hours at 240 is how I do oven braising.

Remove roast, shanks or ribs, strain out veggies, spoon off all grease or chill cooking liquid overnight and remove solidified fat. Reduce liquid to make fabulous sauce. Briefly and gently reheat meat in in sauce before serving.

See the receptionist to make a follow-up appointment, if needed.

Dr. zora

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Port shoulder and belly are not as readily available as beef chuck is.  Heck the local Giant has it on sale frequently and it is on sale this week at Harris Teeter for $2.49/lb.

Pork shoulder is readily available at my local Giant and Shopper's (cheaper here).

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I presume that what you mean by this is that if you cook meat on the bone, it falls off and breaks up into chunks or shreds. My clinical diagnosis of this symptom is: too hot/too longitis. Cooking a stew or braise as Porcupine suggests above, for several hours at 375 degrees, is going to leave you with paradoxically dry, falling-apart meat. That's just too hot and too long IMO. Water boils at 220, and at 375, you've got a really vigorous boil going. You want to gently poach the meat for optimal texture.

Yes! This is exactly what I was going to write. Another thing is that proteins firm up when boiled as opposed to being poached at a lower temperature. I will have to dig up my On Food and Cooking to verify, but I think I am remembering it correctly.

cjsadler also correctly points out the difference between braising and stewing.

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I presume that what you mean by this is that if you cook meat on the bone, it falls off and breaks up into chunks or shreds. My clinical diagnosis of this symptom is: too hot/too longitis. Cooking a stew or braise as Porcupine suggests above, for several hours at 375 degrees, is going to leave you with paradoxically dry, falling-apart meat. That's just too hot and too long IMO. Water boils at 220, and at 375, you've got a really vigorous boil going. You want to gently poach the meat for optimal texture.

My recommended course of treatment is:

Cook in a cast iron pot with a tight-fitting, heavy lid, enameled if possible.

Don't completely submerge the meat, as suggested above.

Bring pot up to gentle boil on stove top before putting in the oven.

2 hours at 275, or 3 hours at 240 is how I do oven braising.

Remove roast, shanks or ribs, strain out veggies, spoon off all grease or chill cooking liquid overnight and remove solidified fat. Reduce liquid to make fabulous sauce. Briefly and gently reheat meat in in sauce before serving.

See the receptionist to make a follow-up appointment, if needed.

Dr. zora

When making a stew, it is important to note that the vegatables that were added during the cooking process need to be removed before serving. The carrots, onioins, celery, etc. are there to add flavor to the sauce and once the meat is cooked, most all of the flavor of the vegatables has been extracted and they will be mushy. Also, I don't bother to do much chopping of the vegatables that are used at this stage; I quarter an onion, cut a carrot and a celecy stalk into 2-3 pioeces. This makes it easier to remove them at the end. I add separately cooked pearl onions, carrots, potatoes and mushrooms to my stews. That way you can control the cooking of the vegatables and add them just before they are done (they will cook a little more in the sauce).

Edited by Jacques Gastreaux
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I presume that what you mean by this is that if you cook meat on the bone, it falls off and breaks up into chunks or shreds. My clinical diagnosis of this symptom is: too hot/too longitis. Cooking a stew or braise as Porcupine suggests above, for several hours at 375 degrees, is going to leave you with paradoxically dry, falling-apart meat. That's just too hot and too long IMO. Water boils at 220, and at 375, you've got a really vigorous boil going. You want to gently poach the meat for optimal texture.

My recommended course of treatment is:

Cook in a cast iron pot with a tight-fitting, heavy lid, enameled if possible.

Don't completely submerge the meat, as suggested above.

Bring pot up to gentle boil on stove top before putting in the oven.

2 hours at 275, or 3 hours at 240 is how I do oven braising.

Remove roast, shanks or ribs, strain out veggies, spoon off all grease or chill cooking liquid overnight and remove solidified fat. Reduce liquid to make fabulous sauce. Briefly and gently reheat meat in in sauce before serving.

See the receptionist to make a follow-up appointment, if needed.

Dr. zora

Dr. Z: pls note that water boils at 212. I'll consider your prescription but I'm not letting you check to see if I have a fever. :)

Also note that some -- my boy TK, among others -- think of falling off the bone-itis as a symtom of good health. He keeps his short ribs attached to their short-rib-meat with caul fat, I keep mine together with butchers twine (and Nebergall, if you're reading this, serve them atop garlic polenta, PM me and I'll give you a recipe).

He and I -- we do everything together, me and Tom -- also do short ribs for maybe 4 hours on the first day and another hour or so on the second, after cooling, skimming, straining etc. Something bigger, like a pork shoulder, can take days.

I am convinced that the key to a good braise is a long rest between initial braising and finishing, which gives the meat time to suck the juices back in.

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I am convinced that the key to a good braise is a long rest between initial braising and finishing, which gives the meat time to suck the juices back in.

I'll have to try this out to see whether or not it does indeed suck.

Edited by Al Dente
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I am convinced that the key to a good braise is a long rest between initial braising and finishing, which gives the meat time to suck the juices back in.

From my experince all dishes that cook over multiple hours, braises, stews, etc greatly benefit from a long rest, even over night. My experience with making chicken curry, which I let slowly bubbly away over low heat for a couple hours, is it tastes great after resting but tastes fantastic the next day. My roommate and I call it the Second Day Curry.

Edited by Tweaked
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Can anyone give a skimming-the-fat primer for this cooking novice?  Recommended tools, techniques, etc.?

The easiest way is to put the pot someplace cold during the long rest we're building a consensus for, and when the fat solidifies on top of the liquid, just pick it out with your fingers or any slotted kitchen tool.

I also have a skimmer from Williams Sonoma that looks roughly like this one. The mesh is fine enough that you can skim fat (and other scunge) off simmering liquid, but the broth goes through.

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Cooking a stew or braise as Porcupine suggests above, for several hours at 375 degrees, is going to leave you with paradoxically dry, falling-apart meat.

Nope. I did forget to mention to turn it over halfway through the cooking time. The meat comes out very well done, falling apart tender, but not in the least bit dry. At least not if it's a well-marbled cut.

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I(According to aCook's Illustrated article I once read, if you want it really tender, get it to 210 inside and keep cooking for another hour.)

I looked this up last night (it's in The Best Recipe). Anyone tried cooking to that temp for that long? CI said they happened upon this by accident, but were bowled over by the results when they tasted it. I think they said 'falling off the bone' was reached at about 190 or so, but the 210 + 1 hour was even better, surprisingly (the total time was something like 4 hours at 275). The explanation was that at the 210 + 1 hour, the collagen had completely broken down and basted the meat.

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I looked this up last night (it's in The Best Recipe). Anyone tried cooking to that temp for that long? CI said they happened upon this by accident, but were bowled over by the results when they tasted it. I think they said 'falling off the bone' was reached at about 190 or so, but the 210 + 1 hour was even better, surprisingly (the total time was something like 4 hours at 275). The explanation was that at the 210 + 1 hour, the collagen had completely broken down and basted the meat.

We generally braise in an oven at 270; given the length of braising and the boiling point of water I'm sure we've hit that mark many times. Sounds like good advice to me.

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Don't miss the "SHORT RIBS BRAISED IN COFFEE ANCHO CHILE SAUCE" from Epicurious. Gourmet did a nice feature on braising a year or so ago and this was one of the featured recipes. Nice kick to it... perfect for the weather.

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Don't miss the "SHORT RIBS BRAISED IN COFFEE ANCHO CHILE SAUCE" from Epicurious.  Gourmet did a nice feature on braising a year or so ago and this was one of the featured recipes.  Nice kick to it... perfect for the weather.

Yes! This is a great recipe!

BTW, getting the collagen to breakdown in braising is the same thing you look for when smoking a butt.

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Braising is the cooking technique used for stews.  But other recipes also call for braising, such as pot roast and lamb shanks and short ribs.  I tend to agree that a stew generally has a thinner liquid than say a carbonnade or a goulash.

And HERE is the recipe I use for goulash.  My kids beg me for it.

I believe that strictly (or perhaps over-strictly) speaking, the difference between stewing and braising is that stewing is a single process of simmering in liquid, while braising is a two-part process of browning in fat and then simmering. Thus, the meat in your goulash recipe is stewed, not braised, as it isn't browned (and I think not browning the meat is the traditional way of doing goulash in central Europe). All of that notwithstanding, what people usually mean when they call something a stew is a braised preparation (which might more over-strictly speaking be called a fricassee rather than a stew).

I base these remarks on a discussion of these terms in one of Julia Child's books--I think one of the Mastering books -- and I may have misremembered all of it.

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I believe that strictly (or perhaps over-strictly) speaking, the difference between stewing and braising is that stewing is a single process of simmering in liquid, while braising is a two-part process of browning in fat and then simmering. Thus, the meat in your goulash recipe is stewed, not braised, as it isn't browned (and I think not browning the meat is the traditional way of doing goulash in central Europe). All of that notwithstanding, what people usually mean when they call something a stew is a braised preparation (which might more over-strictly speaking be called a fricassee rather than a stew).

I base these remarks on a discussion of these terms in one of Julia Child's books--I think one of the Mastering books -- and I may have misremembered all of it.

But when I make beef stew or carbonnade, I brown the meat. Browning the meat adds to the flavor and the color.

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I believe that strictly (or perhaps over-strictly) speaking, the difference between stewing and braising is that stewing is a single process of simmering in liquid, while braising is a two-part process of browning in fat and then simmering. Thus, the meat in your goulash recipe is stewed, not braised, as it isn't browned (and I think not browning the meat is the traditional way of doing goulash in central Europe). All of that notwithstanding, what people usually mean when they call something a stew is a braised preparation (which might more over-strictly speaking be called a fricassee rather than a stew).

I base these remarks on a discussion of these terms in one of Julia Child's books--I think one of the Mastering books -- and I may have misremembered all of it.

On page 294 of Molly Stevens' "All About Braising" she writes:

"From a purely semantic perspective, braising and stewing are closely related, but braising has a specific definition (cooking food in a closed vessel with very little liquid at a low temperature and for a long time . . .), and stewing does not. Stewing is a broader term that means, quite simply, to cook food by simmering it in liquid--any amount of liquid, with or without a lid. This being the case, braising remains a more precise technique."

For all you wonks out there. :)

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If you have a Google account click here. Courtesy of Google BookSearch (a truly great thing) you can read the two pages in Harold McGee's recent version of On Food and Cooking. BTW, if you don't have this book yet put it on your Chirstmas list.

He states that stewing is braising with more liquid.

Not sure what I can/should post here, but he favors a slow rise to weaken the connective tissue so that the meat does not have to be cooked long at higher temperatures that dry it out.

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212/220-- Just rounding up. But I'll bet if you stuck a thermometer in a pot full of vegetables, wine, meat and salt, that it wouldn't come to a boil exactly at 212. However, I'm not going to bother to test that hypothesis. And as far as trusting me to take your temperature, fellas. All I can say is, unless it's over 100 degrees, you're going to school! Come to think of it, doesn't water boil at 100 degrees centigrade? :)

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212/220-- Just rounding up. But I'll bet if you stuck a thermometer in a pot full of vegetables, wine, meat and salt, that it wouldn't come to a boil exactly at 212.

Yeah, but now we're not talking about pure water. :o back at ya! :)

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