The Art of Braising Meat

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Sam Sifton, journalist and Food Editor at the New York Times, and Marco Canora, chef, restaurateur and cookbook author, discuss the delicate art of braising. They offer a few of their favorite recipes as well as tips on how to strike the perfect balance between frying and slow-cooking your braised meal.

This segment is guest hosted by Melissa Clark.

Smoky Braised Kale With Tomato

Recipe from Sam Sifton's article in The New York Times, "The 400 Degree Thanksgiving."

Yield: 8 to 10 servingsTime: 1 hour

This is a hack of a preparation the chef Travis Lett used at his restaurant Gjelina in Venice, California, as a pairing for a half-roasted chicken. With its deeply caramelized base of tomato paste and smoked paprika, the kale melts into velvety excellence that can stand on its own with a pile of rice or a baked potato. But it really shines brightly as a supporting player in a feast of poultry, pork or beef. Do two onions seem too many for you? Use one. This is a recipe really to make your own.

Ingredients:

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil2 Spanish onions, peeled and diced8 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced¼ cup tomato paste1 teaspoon hot smoked paprika (pimentón) Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste3 cups turkey or chicken stock, ideally homemade or low-sodium1 tablespoon red wine vinegar, plus more to taste4 (3/4-pound) bunches washed kale (any kind), thick stems discarded or cut into thin strips, leaves cut into thick strips (about 16 packed cups total)

Directions:

1. Place a large, heavy-bottomed, high-sided pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat and add olive oil. When it shimmers, add onions and garlic and cook until they soften and begin to turn translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes.

2. Add tomato paste and smoked paprika, reduce heat to medium, and cook, stirring frequently, until the paste begins to caramelize, about 5 to 7 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then add stock and vinegar, and allow to come to a boil.

3. Add half the kale, cover, and cook for a minute or two, until it wilts. Repeat with remaining kale. Stir to incorporate the onion mixture into the soft kale and simmer until tender, 20 to 30 minutes, partly covered. Season to taste with salt and pepper, drizzle with a little more vinegar, and serve.

Smothered Pork Chops

Recipe from Sam Sifton's article in The New York Times, "Star Anise Brine."

Yield: 8 servingsTime: 3 hours

Get the best pork chops you can, and the thickest, and give yourself a good 12 hours or more of lead time to soak them in the brine. If you are omitting the anise in the brine, you could add some flavor to the dredging flour — chili powder, say, or smoked paprika.

Ingredients:

8 thick, bone-in pork chops (more if using smaller chops) Anise brine4 tablespoons neutral oil, like peanut or safflower, or lard1 cup all-purpose flour8 medium yellow onions, peeled and thinly sliced1 bay leaf Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste2 quarts pork stock or chicken stock1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley, optional

Directions:

1. In a large nonreactive container, submerge the pork in the brine and place in refrigerator for at least 12 hours or overnight, then remove the chops and dry well with paper towels.

2.Preheat oven to 325. Heat the oil or lard in a large ovenproof pot or Dutch oven set over medium heat. Dredge the chops in the flour, shaking off the excess. Reserve the leftover flour.

3. Cook the chops in the fat, about 4 minutes per side, until they are brown and crisp on the exterior, and transfer to a plate. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add the onions and bay leaf and cook, stirring often, until the onions are softened, about 15 minutes. Season well with salt and pepper.

4. Add 6 tablespoons flour to the onions, stir well and allow to cook 3 or 4 minutes. Slowly add the stock, stirring and scraping the pan well, until it is incorporated and the mixture is slightly thickened.

5. Return chops to the pot and bring to a simmer, then cover tightly and cook in the oven until very tender, 2 or more hours. Transfer chops to a plate and place pot on stovetop, over medium heat. Reduce sauce until it is thick enough to resemble gravy, skimming excess oil and foam if necessary. Return chops to pot to reheat, then serve with their gravy over rice or mashed potatoes. Garnish with parsley if you like.

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