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PERSONAL CHEF

PERSONAL CHEF
FOOD FOR REAL PEOPLE

Saturday, December 28, 2013

A LOOK AT SIMPLE BRAISING

Braising Is The Bomb!
Ask any foodie about braising, and they'll no doubt tell you that braising is one of the most awesome of cooking methods. Braising a piece of chewy pork shoulder in wine and herbs…you can not beat that, the pork becomes a melt in the mouth treat, and the sauce that is rendered during the cooking process becomes a meal with two contrasting textures, dry moist, and wet liquid.

Braising is very simple, its done with love in many a grandma's house for sure. Those days when family came together to eat, grandma's braised pork ribs, with her pan gravy made from the drippings. Her mashed potatoes with gravy, buttered rolls, corn, salad, it was a true blessing to eat that way.

Other nationalities have utilized braising techniques, by a learned course or frankly by accident. I've known friends who aren't cooks, but decided to fry up some chicken, and when it was golden, turned to each other and said, "Yeah man, add the beer to the pan!" and then the chicken was golden and moist, with some crispness, but the beer did lend a sauce that was delicious, these by accident chefs discovered what we all knew already as braising. "Wow man, this shit tastes great!"

My thinking on cooking is this, keep it simple. You really don't need to do much for a piece of quality meat, be it a steak, pork chop, or fish. A good quality protein has its original flavor characteristics that too much herbs or spices can actually ruin a dish.

So let's go over some things for you beginner foodies shall we? It's easy.

Let's braise a 5 pound pork butt or as some call it a pork shoulder. And this cut of meat is rather on the chewy side. If you were to just dry roast it, you'd probably need to slice it thin for your diners to enjoy. However if you purchase quality pork like naturally grown Duroc pork or Kurobuta pork, most of the cuts are buttery smooth and tender. 

Directions:

1. Take your pork butt, and set it at room temperature. Season all around it with Kosher salt and some white pepper. Rub it in to the meat, and if there's some fat all the better.
2. Now simply turn on your oven to 450 degrees F. When it's preheated, it's time to place that pork butt in the center of your oven. If you are using a convection oven, turn it down to 425 degrees F.
3. Place the pork in to a roasting pan (stainless steel), do not use a non stick pan, it is harder to produce a sauce with it.
4. When ready, put the pan in the oven, and roast it for 30 minutes, it should get slightly brown.
5. Carefully remove the roast, and add in about 3 cups of beef broth and 3 cups of red wine, also add in some chopped round onions, about 1 small round onion, and about 1/2 a whole garlic by removing the cloves and just smashing it, place this in the liquid. 
6. Cover the pan with foil, or the cover that came with the pan, and place it back in the oven, and cook it for 2 hours, turning down the heat to 325 degrees or 300 degrees F. on a convection oven.
7. Remove from oven, let it rest for a few minutes uncovered.
8. Remove the pork butt from the pan carefully on to the cutting board, cover with foil.
9. Place pan back on to the stove top burners, and heat up over medium high heat, reduce the sauce about by 1/3, taste it, add more salt if needed. (If it's dried up, add more broth), and when it is ready remove from stove, and add in about 2 tablespoons of cold butter, and using a whisk, whisk it in to the sauce, the butter adds body and gloss to the sauce.
10. Slice the pork into nice slices about 1/4 inch each, plate and drizzle some sauce over slices.

Note: You can also season the pork butt with thyme and rosemary as well, I like it straight up salt and pepper, I find the other herbs robs the flavor of the pork, that's just my take.

Good luck on your braising, and remember that we are only human and that we'll make mistakes, just think of this as a learning thing and you'll get better as time goes on.

Photo from Google Images

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