Posts tagged ‘braising’

May 30, 2011

Braised Artichokes (a little How-to)

This week grocery shopping, I decided to part with my usual organized self and go without a list. I know, right? Scary.  I am not abandoning my usually weekly menu planning, I am just doing it a little backwards. I decided to go to the store and pick out the things that looked good, were in season or, in some cases, more affordable (let’s admit that has to be considered more and more these days).

The one thing I knew was that I wanted to make a new artichoke dish, and lucky for me artichokes are in season and they looked good. Making artichokes usually means bringing a pot of water to a boil, then cooking the artichokes for 45 minutes to an hour.  Not this dish.  Braising artichokes does not require boiling water or cooking for a long period of time.  Braising brings out amazing flavor that puts the artichokes over the top. Butter and mayonnaise, no need! Save those calories and grams of fat but get a punch of flavor.

First, how to prepare an artichoke… (on my blog I have some step-by-step photos and my wonderful friend Tara helped me – thank you!).

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1. Cut about 1/3 off the top of the artichoke.

2. Cut the stem leaving about 1/2 inch or so on the bottom.

3. Peel off the tough outer leaves. Peel the leaf bending it back and the good part at the bottom of the leaf will stay on while the inedible part will come right off.

4. Snip off the tip of the remaining leaves, to remove the thistles.

5. With a pairing knife trim off the outer portions of the stem and the tough/stringy green part left by the leaves you peeled.

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6. Now turn the artichoke on its top and quarter the artichoke.

7. On the heart is a line where the little hairs start to form. Following that line cut toward the leaves and cut out all the hairs along with the bloom in the center. (that inner part will bloom into a thistle flower if left on the bush).

8. Place the quartered artichokes in a bowl of lemon water to help stop the browning while you cut the rest of your artichokes

To prepare an artichoke whole, stop at Step 5 and steam or boil your artichokes.  Also you could use a spoon to dig out the middle bloom and hairs, then stuff the artichoke with a cheese bread crumb mixture, or a mixture of your favorite herbs and butter.

BRAISED ARTICHOKES

4 artichokes (1 per person)

2 scallions, minced

1 garlic clove, minced

1/4 cup white wine

1/4 cup water

salt and pepper

(add-ins: chopped kalamata olives, herbs de Provence, capers, tomatoes, a mixture of your favorite herbs, thyme, basil, oregano.)

Prepare your artichokes, and quarter them.

In a heavy skillet heat olive oil over medium heat and sauté the shallots for 2 minutes, then add the garlic and sauté until translucent.

Add the quartered artichokes and sauté for 5 minutes.

Reduce the heat to Medium-low and add the wine and water. Cover and cook for 20-30 minutes, until the artichokes are soft and a leaf pulls off easily. I like to brown the artichokes up a bit at this point.

I like to serve this with crusty basil-garlic bread or as a side dish to grilled pork chops or chicken.

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April 25, 2011

Un-Traditional Easter Dinner

Since our family had to postpone Easter dinner until next weekend, I decided to make Braciole for Easter. It’s a dish I attempted and failed at before so it was time for another try.

Braciole is an Italian dish made with steak (sirloin pounded into think strips, or flank steak pounded to about a 1/4’”) stuffed with bread crumbs, cheese, and herbs, then stewed in a tomato sauce.

Technique: Braising. Braising and stewing begin with searing meats to lock in the moisture and create a good crust on the meat. Another great side effect of Braising is the sauce. Braising uses a small amount of liquid so by the end of the cooking process the sauce has reduced and developed deeper flavors.

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I begin with the tomato sauce since it should simmer for 30-minutes, then I use that time to make the stuffing and prepare the steak.

Tomato Sauce

2 cloves of garlic

1 onion, finely diced

8oz mushrooms, sliced

1/2 cup white wine

crushed red pepper

28 oz can crushed tomatoes

4-5 basil leaves

salt and pepper

In an oven safe pot saute the onion, garlic, and crushed red pepper in olive oil until the onion is translucent. Add the mushrooms until they are softened. Deglaze the pan with the wine and allow to cook about 3 minutes.

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Stir in the tomatoes, salt and pepper and let the sauce cook for about 30 minutes on medium-low heat. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

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After 30 minutes add the torn basil leaves to the tomato mixture and stir.

Steak

1 flank steak

1/2 c bread crumbs

2 eggs

1/4 c parmesan cheese

1/2 bunch of parsley

1 clove garlic

salt and pepper

NOTE: Add other ingredients to the stuffing such as, olives, sun-dried tomatoes, green onion, spinach, mushrooms, etc…

(Next time I am going to try spinach, provolone and sun dried tomatoes, and I won’t process it in the food processor).

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Place all the stuffing ingredients in a food processor and process until it’s paste-like.

Lay the steak out on a cutting board and season both sides with salt and pepper.

Spread the stuffing over the steak, then roll it up starting with the narrow end.

Tie the ends and middle with kitchen twine. Sear the steak on all sides until it is brown, then add it to the tomato sauce. Cook for 1 1/2 – 2 hours. The longer you cook it the more tender the meat.

I served the Braciole with roasted asparagus and basil butter orzo.

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