So, I have decided to change my middle name to Braising, not Brazen as most of you who know me would assume. Not Brazen, as in that old southern put down she’s just a “Brazen Hussy”. This comment is usually whispered in loud tones by blue haired older women, about some young cute girl who’s skirt is a bit too short and make-up a bit too heavy, (God knows I WISH that were me now, that actually was me like 30 years ago, but I digress), directly followed by the comment, “Lord knows what she does when no-one is’a watching.” (I wish I was doing something when no-one was watching.) But Braising, as in my new favorite cooking method for any kind of protein. I have lately braised chicken and pork loin and pork chops and beef roast and chicken, I haven’t tried fish yet but that may be next. It is easy, easy,easy and tasty, tasty delicious. And it allows you to switch it up for different flavors so that the family on the home front doesn’t feel as if they are eating the same thing each night. Not nearly as exciting as brazen, but hey its good food!
You can even do this with FROZEN chicken breasts, if you are like me… a bit lacking in the forethought and planning department.
The first thing you need is a good heavy skillet with a lid that can handle at least a 400 degree oven, a 12″size with straight sides will handle a meal for 4 people. Most new ones even with glass lids can handle up to 425 degrees.
You will need for this recipe, your protein, chicken, pork chops, London broil roast, chuck roast etc. Corresponding box of broth, chicken or beef, or I have even used petite chopped tomatoes. I have also used hard cider which goes especially well with pork and basil and rosemary, whichever one you pick you will need at least 30 to 32 ozs of liquid, and corresponding dried spices. For an Italian flavor I like Marjoram or basil, for good old warm comfort food, I like sage and thyme with a bay leaf, Salt and pepper are very important and red pepper flakes if you like. Also VERY important DRY your meat thoroughly before you season it well. We want it to SEAR when we put it in the skillet not boil it. I usually season 1 side, put that side down in the roaring hot skillet and season the other side while its in the skillet.
Get the skillet, add 1 to 2 tblsps olive oil, I put about that much butter also, get the skillet searing hot, when that begins to sizzle place your well seasoned roast, chicken, pork chops seasoned side down in the hot skillet and let it brown and sear well, don’t move it around just let it brown until it gets that caramelized color that gives you the excellent taste you are gonna want. If it seems like it is sticking remember it will release from the pan once its seared. Yes you can check it by barely lifting one corner and checking for browness! DO NOT put the lid on or it will release its juices and start to boil and you will have very tough meat. DO NOT be a whimp and turn the heat down or it will boil! Stand over it while you are searing you will get to sit down later when the braising is going on. Once it has seared, after you have seasoned the up side, flip it over and thoroughly sear the other side.
You have just added an amazing amount of flavor to your protein.
Next step, while still on the stove top, add just enough broth or cider to come HALFWAY up the sides of the meat or chicken. At this point add fresh spices or veg to add flavor, onion chunks, celery cut 2″ long, garlic smashed and cut up fine etc. Bring broth to a boil in the skillet on the stove top and THEN put the lid on and place it in a 350 degree preheated oven. Check it in about 30 to 45 minutes if it is chicken or pork chops to check for done-ness and tenderness, add more broth to keep the level halfway up the meat . If its not done stick it back in the oven until it is. A pork loin roast or a chuck roast will take an hour and a half or longer. If chicken breast is frozen you will need additional 20 to 30 minutes for oven time. A London broil takes longer to get tender as it has very little fat. The same would apply to venison or other wild game.
Once the meat is done, remove from oven and place back on stove top, remove the meat or chicken from the juices and let it rest on a plate, while you make the pan sauce or GRAVY! YUM! Add the rest of the box of broth or liquid to the skillet. Then all you do is take 2 tablespoons of melted butter add 2 tablespoons of flour mix that together in a separate bowl and stir it into the pan juices with the additional broth. Bring to a simmer to thicken slightly and place meat back in skillet. Let it cook for an additional 5 minutes and you got dinner with I might add…GRAVY.
There are so many ways to vary this recipe, you can turn the oven down to 325 degrees if you need it to take longer to cook.
Here are some suggestions for combinations, all are prepared well salted and peppered during the searing process with additional spices according to what I am preparing.
Pork loin, rosemary and basil S&P to sear and onions and celery added to braise. Use 1 bottle of hard cider(Wicked Orchard is my favorite) for braising while in the oven and add 1 16 oz can of chicken broth to make the gravy, using the butter and flour method, which is delicious, especially over mashed potatoes, with sauteed apples and roasted Brussel sprouts on the side.
Chicken breasts, dried sage, bay leaf and small amount of red pepper flakes. About halfway through oven time add chunks of seasoned raw carrots, onions and potatoes,and celery for a 1 pot meal. Make sure liquid level stays high enough to cover half way up meat and veg. Serve with cornbread or rolls. You don’t even have to thicken the gravy on this one, the potatoes do that for you.
Chuck roast or London Broil seared with rosemary and thyme braised with onions, beef broth, a little red wine(1/2 cup) and bay leaf in the oven until almost done add lots of sliced mushrooms and thinly sliced bell pepper, more thinly sliced onion about 30 minutes before its done. Remove meat and veg from skillet back on stove top and for the gravy part mix 1/4 cup of sour creme with flour and stir into pan juices with additional beef broth, let it thicken add beef and veg back in and serve over wide noodles for a stroganoff, crusty french bread on the side.
And this was a new one for me, no oven necessary. I needed to prepare dinner the other night and had thawed chicken breasts but really not much else, except for canned chopped tomatoes and 1 jar of Alfredo sauce, but 1 jar of sauce is not enough for 3 people. And I always have pasta of some kind. So I seasoned the chicken with S&P and marjoram, seared it off as usual, turned the heat on the stove top down to med/low and put the lid on the skillet to force the heat inside the chicken and cook it all the way through. When it was almost done I dumped 1 can of petite diced tomatoes with the juice on top of the chicken and let it simmer another 5 minutes, then I added the jar of Alfredo sauce and mixed it in with the tomatoes, and let it simmer for another 5 minutes. Stuck it on top of some cooked linguine and supper was ready in about 30 minutes. I have kinda always though jarred Alfredo sauce is too heavy but the addition of the chopped tomatoes added that bit of acid that really lightened it up. And it was yum.
Here’s the thing, this all seems fairly simple to a cook who has been flying by the seat of their pants for years, I get it… if its too simple for you go make the coconut cake that is on this blog. But if you are like me and make dinner almost every night of forever for hungry men, its a relief to have a simple formula that ALWAYS turns out good, that you don’t have to think about too much that you can keep stuff on hand for, just a simple and good meal that uses fresh veg and meat and takes less time then running to the corner taco stand.
Oh and one more piece of advice… if you get the chance, young or old, male or female, to be a “Brazen Hussy” JUST DO IT, its so much fun.