One of the most underrated cooking methods is braising. I like braising because it has the same goal as smoking. The goal is to take a nasty cheap cut of meat and turn it into something tasty. Smoking does it by cooking at a low temperature, between 200 and 210, for many hours. The connective tissue and fat renders away over time, leaving a supremely tender piece of meat behind.
Braising does the same thing, only in less time (I think). The idea with braising is to moist cook meat at a temperature between 200 and 210. Typically this is done in an oven at 300. The meat is seared and placed in a tightly fitting container with a cover, some liquid and some tasty vegetables. The container should just be slightly bigger than the meat you are going to cook.
I heard an article on braising on NPR about a week ago. The guy who was their food scientist said that you should have the cover of the cooking vessel slightly cracked. This is in sharp contrast to every other source I have read on braising. The reason, he says, for leaving the lid cracked is so that the liquid in the pot does not boil.
If it is boiling it technically is not slow cooking at 210 it is at 226 or whatever the boiling point of your liquid happens to be. It is something to think about. The guy sounded very bright. I am planning on ordering a few books of his. I'll let you know.
Braising meat is the perfect thing to do in your kitchen on a cold day. Your kitchen will be nice and warm and smell wonderful. I got this recipe from an unlikely source - GQ Magazine
. I only say that it is an unlikely source because you would not think of a men's fashion magazine as a source for a good recipe. In fact, I have gotten several wonderful recipes from GQ. I modified it a little bit to be more in line with the classic French braising method.Chuck Roast Braised in Beer
3 pound chuck roast, cut into fist size pieces
1 onion, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
4 cloves garlic, unmolested.
1)Heat a skillet until nice and hot. Add in the oil. Drop in the beef chunks and sear really well all over. Put on a plate and set aside. Season with seasoned salt.
2) Add the onions and carrots to the pan and saute until carmelized.
3) Get a cooking vessel with a tight fitting lid that is just slightly bigger than the meat you intend to cook. Preheat oven to 300. Brush bacon grease on the inside of the cooking vessel. Put the cloves of garlic on the bottom and a little pepper.
4) When onions and carrots are carmelized ad a little beer to the pan and use it to deglaze all the nice bits from the bottom of the pan. Pour the liquid, onions and carrots into the cooking vessel.
5) Add the chunks of beef on top of the vegies. Pour beer into the vessel until it comes about halfway up the beef.
6) Place a tightly covered lid on the vessel. (controversial, see above) Bake at 300 for several hours, basting some of the pan juices on top of the meat occasionally.
7) When the cooking is done, remove the meat to a platter. Strain the pan juices. Degrease the juices by spooning off the fat. When this is done you can either thicken the juices to make a gravy or serve it as is over the top of the meat.
Degreasing is easy. Pour the strained juices into a cup.
Pull the grease off using a spoon.
To make a gravy take 1 cup of the pan juices and place into a saucepan. Measure out 1/4 cup water. Add 2 T flour and stir until there are no lumps. Add to the saucepan. Heat to boiling and cook until thickened to the right consistency.
We served ours with baked sweet potatoes and some tasty sweet corn.
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