Braising Season

Fall is braising season.

Big pots of long-simmered meat falling off bones; broth redolent of herbs and wine; and root veggies slow-cooked to flavourful perfection is an ancient French tradition. It’s peasant food, the ultimate comfort food, stick-to-your-ribs winter-is-coming food. It’s a meal for your family any day of the week with left-overs, or elegant dinner party fare when you’ve got a new STAUB cocotte to show off. Either way, it’s one-pot cooking at its finest.

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Heavyweight cast iron is the ultimate cooking machine. However Staub’s innovative double-glazed enamel coating takes cast iron cookery to the next level with its superior cooking surface that never needs seasoning, is easy to clean, and does not discolour, scratch, crack, rust, or chip. The uniquely formulated black matte interior enamel of each Staub piece contains traces of quartz, giving it additional heat resistance and a rougher surface for better browning. There is also a brilliant design feature under the lid: self-basting spikes over the surface of the tight-fitting lid. This creates a rainfall effect—drops of condensation fall onto the food simmering below thus basting it evenly and continually to keep the food moist and flavourful.

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Founder, Francis Staub, designed the first cocotte while working in an old French artillery factory in 1974. Manufactured in France, Staub isn’t just practical, it’s stylish. I chose the matte black finish even though the line comes in gloriously glossy shades like sapphire blue and cherry red. To me, in my modern house, black is beautiful. And it matches my wardrobe.

This classic Coq Au Vin cocotte, with the sculptured rooster handle, is the perfect size and shape for braising a chicken.

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Julia Child’s recipe in Mastering The Art Of French Cooking is as perfect as the pot.

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And for those of you who don’t have the book, here it is courtesy of Smitten Kitchen:

Coq Au Vin [Chicken in Red Wine with Onions, Mushrooms and Bacon]

Mastering The Art Of French Cooking

Feeds 4 to 6 people

A 3- to 4-ounce chunk of bacon
A heavy, 10-inch, fireproof casserole
2 tablespoons butter
2 1/2 to 3 pounds cut-up frying chicken
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup cognac
3 cups young, full-bodied red wine such as Burgundy, Beaujolais, Cotes du Rhone or Chianti
1 to 2 cups brown chicken stock, brown stock or canned beef bouillon
1/2 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cloves mashed garlic
1/4 teaspoon thyme
1 bay leaf
12 to 24 brown-braised onions (recipe follows)
1/2 pound sautéed mushrooms (recipe follows)
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons softened butter
Sprigs of fresh parsley

1. Remove the rind of and cut the bacon into lardons (rectangles 1/4-inch across and 1 inch long). Simmer for 10 minutes in 2 quarts of water. Rinse in cold water. Dry. [Deb note: As noted, I’d totally skip this step next time.]
2. Sauté the bacon slowly in hot butter until it is very lightly browned. Remove to a side dish.
3. Dry the chicken thoroughly. Brown it in the hot fat in the casserole.
4. Season the chicken. Return the bacon to the casserole with the chicken. Cover and cook slowly for 10 minutes, turning the chicken once.
5. Uncover, and pour in the cognac. Averting your face, ignite the cognac with a lighted match. Shake the casserole back and forth for several seconds until the flames subside.
6. Pour the wine into the casserole. Add just enough stock or bouillon to cover the chicken. Stir in the tomato paste, garlic and herbs. Bring to the simmer. Cover and simmer slowly for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the chicken is tender and its juices run a clear yellow when the meat is pricked with a fork. Remove the chicken to a side dish.
7. While the chicken is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms (recipe follows).
8. Simmer the chicken cooking liquid in the casserole for a minute or two, skimming off the fat. Then raise the heat and boil rapidly, reducing the liquid to about 2 1/4 cups. Correct seasoning. Remove from heat and discard bay leaf.
9. Blend the butter and flour together into a smooth paste (buerre manie). Beat the paste into the hot liquid with a wire whip. Bring to the simmer, stirring, and simmer for a minute or two. The sauce should be thick enough to coat a spoon lightly.
10. Arrange the chicken in the casserole, place the mushrooms and onions around it and baste with the sauce. If this dish is not to be served immediately, film the top of the sauce with stock or dot with small pieces of butter. Set aside uncovered. It can now wait indefinitely.
11. Shortly before serving, bring to the simmer, basting the chicken with the sauce. Cover and simmer slowly for 4 to 5 minutes, until the chicken is hot enough.
12. Seve from the casserole, or arrange on a hot platter. Decorate with sprig of parsley.

Oignons Glacés a Brun [Brown-Braised Onions]
Mastering the Art of French Cooking

For 18 to 24 peeled white onions about 1 inch in diameter:
1 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons oil
A 9- to 10-inch enameled skillet
1/2 cup of brown stock, canned beef bouillon, dry white wine, red wine or water
Salt and pepper to taste
A medium herb bouquet: 3 parsley sprigs, 1/2 bay leaf, and 1/4 teaspoon thyme tied in cheesecloth

When the butter and oil are bubbling the skillet, add the onions and sauté over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling the onions about so they will brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their skins. You cannot expect to brown them uniformly.

Pour in the liquid, season to taste, and add the herb bouquet. Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but retain their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove the herb bouquet. Serve them as they are.

Champignons Sautés Au Buerre [Sautéed Mushrooms]
Mastering the Art of French Cooking

A 10-inch enameled skillet
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon oil
1/2 pound fresh mushrooms, washed, well dried, left whole if small, sliced or quartered if large
1 to 2 tablespoons minced shallots or green onions (optional)
Salt and pepper

Place the skillet over high heat with the butter and oil. As soon as you see the butter foam has begun to subside, indicating that it is hot enough, add the mushrooms. Toss and shake the pan for 4 to 5 minutes. During their sauté the mushrooms will at first absorb the fat. In 2 to 3 minutes the fat will reappear on their surface, and the mushrooms will begin to brown. As soon as they have browned lightly, remove from heat.

Toss the shallots or green onions with the mushrooms. Sauté over moderate heat for 2 minutes.

Sautéed mushrooms may be cooked in advance, set aside, then reheated when needed. Season to taste just before serving.

 

STAUB 5.5 L CocottePurchased from The Bay online: here. Also available at Amazon; and from Staub.

OTHER STAUB POSTS: One Pot Wonder ( Staub Paul Bocuse Cocotte)

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Susan Written by:

One Comment

  1. cheryl
    October 16, 2016

    Love Mastering The Art of French Cooking

Comments are closed.