Sunday, October 12, 2008

Pardus is Brazen ( Braising)...

It's a spectacular Hudson Valley Indian Summer day and Sierra and I are expecting company. Cedric Tovar, Chef and Director of Restaurant Ops at a major NYC hotel, is a good family friend and he and his girl friend are coming up to pick apples and have dinner, what am I serving? A braise. A chuck roast braised in beef stock with tomato puree, onions, garlic, carrots, pancetta, calamattta olives, capers, anchovies and sage.

But all of the accessories are irrelevant. Braising seems to flummox so many people - and it should not. You could be braising a goat in sub-Saharan Africa, a Yak in Mongolia, a horse in Argentina, or a pot roast in Indiana.

Here are the basics:

Tough cut of meat with lots of visible fat and connective tissue between the muscles - butt, shank, Bottom round, Chuck, Shoulder, Cheek meat

Aromatics - french mire poix or anything else that smells good and fits the regional profile that you're striking for - carrots, onions, celery; lemon grass, garlic, ginger, scallions; onions, garlic, sage, chiles. You get the picture?

Liquid - stock or water or vegetable broth or any combination that fits.

Herbs to match the region

Finishing ingredients/edible "garnish" - olives and capers; root veg added into the pot near the end; fresh herbs from the region

Method for today's Braised Beef:

Render pancetta in olive oil until crisp - remove pancetta, leave oil in pan

Heat oil hot enough to sear meat on both sides until deep brown - with out burning fat OR meat

Remove meat, lower heat

Add aromatics and brown ( this works only if aromatics have sufficient sugars to brown)- onions, garlic, carrots today

Add liquid - beef stock and fresh tomato puree

Add Beef back to pan

bring liquid to gentle simmer

Place pan into low oven - 300 F today

Cover if needed (how to tell? Is the liquid really deep?- leave uncovered and check for evaporation every 30 minutes. add more water if it starts to look dry). If liquid level is low to begin with, cover to inhibit excess evaporation - check every 30 minutes anyway - add water if it starts to dry out

When meat is REALLY tender, add finishing ingredients - today olives, capers, anchovies

Turn down oven to 250F and allow flavors to meld for about 15 minutes. If guests are late, or you don't want to eat right away, turn down to will hold that way for a looooog time.

Serve with a braised vegetables - presuming you did not add one to the pot during the last 30 minutes of cooking - a starch that is appropriate - mashed potatoes, polenta, steamed rice - and plenty of appropriate bread (if bread would be inappropriate in some cultures, serve more rice on the side).

Don't follow recipes, follow techniques and make up your own recipes.


ntsc said...

It isn't quite cool enough to braise here yet, comfortably. However braises are a fairly common method of cooking here.

Because of stuff I've read here and at Ruhlman's blog, I've a good idea why my results haven't been consistint. Too much heat, not enough liquid and plan on improving them.

Walt said...

Mighty tasty post Chef Pardus.

For some reason I seem to braise something every weekend this time of year. I suppose a nice hearty and flavorful meal works nicely as the weather turns cooler. They also provide for some great leftovers.

Saturday we did short ribs and yesterday veal shanks. I've never braised a chuck roast but I think I need to give this a try next weekend. The kids will love it and I can almost taste the leftovers on football Sunday. Maybe in a nice crusty roll with a bit of horseradish mayo....

Bob del Grosso said...

Where's the polenta?

Seriously, that looks great. Funny timing, I've got a braised chuck in my refrigerator right now.

Mike Pardus said...

I was thinking polenta myself, but cedric never shows up on time - that's whay I always make a braise, it holds for hours. For starch I salt roasted some newly dug potatoes with olive oila and sagea and brasied some leeks for veg.

Ulla said...

this blog post is so helpful. i am developing a grass-fed pot roast recipe, i want to use onions as the liquid. goodness this looks inspired, i love the idea of the anchovies and the olives. lovely!

Mike Pardus said...

Ulla - Onions for the liquid - are you thinking of a raw onion puree or something else?

It occurs to me that making a really nice Onion soup - slowly caramelize the onions, deglaze with sherry, add a pinch of allspice, add gelatinous white veal stock - and using it to braise just 'bout anything would be really good - and you could "lard" the beef with anchovies and olives so they dont' get lost in all of the caramel and browned goodness on the exterior.

But if you're going to use a raw onion puree, describe what you have in mind - I'm intrigued by that idea, just can't wrap my head around it - I'd want to put gin in it or finish it with a juniper berrie compound butter for some reason.

Bob del Grosso said...

What's the name of that dish from the classical repertoire that is grilled entrecote topped with a lattice of anchovies? That's the dish that clued me into the idea that beef and anchovies might be as well-paired as bread and butter -and they are.

Whoa, just found it in Le Guide (p272)

Entrecote Mirabeau (recipe # 2228)

Season and grill the sirloin steaks, arrange on a suitable dish.
Decorate with anchovy fillets and stoned olives, border the steaks with blanched tarragon leaves.
Serve accompanied with anchovy butter.

Looks like case of those who forget the past are blessed to repeat it!

Please forgive the presumption that you may have forgotten. Honestly, I don't believe it.

Rock on.

Mike Pardus said...

Bob - Honestly, I never knew about that dish - I just always found that Beef Steak and anchovies had a notural affinity for each other - umami glazing umami. I do a pan fried steak which I finish with a pan sauce of toasted garlic, anchovies, red wine vineagr and enough olive oil to make i unctious. It's PFG - especially with Rappini this time of year.

Mike Pardus said...

Typo much? Sorry - worked a double tonight and want to get the hell out of here....

Kate in the NW said...

At our house, braising is very close to our hearts (well, I guess that goes without saying given the location of our stomachs...) - it is definitely my favorite cold-weather method of cooking, and friendly to someone like myself who has little bits of time here and there throughout the day so prepare things, but seldom a big chunk of time all together.

I am thinking of the onion-braise thing, and wondering if it would be good to do some sort of pork roast with--lots of onions and--fresh cider? (or maybe hard cider would tenderize the meat better - but good, cloudy European hard cider, not the icky-sticky sweet clear stuff)? A bay leaf and some toasted coriander seeds? Serve it with some hearty bread and some grainy mustard and a nice ale? Might make a good sandwich the next day, too. You could add a few things (sugar, cider vinegar) and cook the remaining liquid (after the meat is done) down into an agrodolce - maybe add some figs and make it into a chutney-type situation?

Hmmm. My grocery list just grew.

Thanks for the inspiration...

Ulla said...

sorry i was not clear at all. you read my mind though, i was definitely thinking of a french soup. i have fallen in love with onions. i also loving the idea of anchovies and maybe a dry vermouth. i am up at the farm and i should my mother this post she wants to try it. i think the olives got her excited:) thanks for sharing:)

Mike Pardus said...

Ulla, have you tried curing your own olives? It may be a little late in the season, but if you can find some raw green olives on the market I can tell you how to cure them - a rare and delicious treat.

Bob del Grosso said...

That comment I made about Entrecote Mirabeau was actually pretty dumb as it implied that the dish was some sort of archetype for the use of anchovies with beef when, in fact, people have been pairing meat and fish (or fermented fish) for centuries.

redredsteve said...

Great post, that braise looks beautiful. I've never done much braising before but after eating a wonderful beef burgundy (AKA the mouth hammer) I've become a real fan. Now I just need to learn how to season/flavor a pork braise so that I can eat carnitas like I used to have back in Cali. I figure I'll read up on some Rick Bayless, but do you have any recommendations?

Scotty said...

"in fact, people have been pairing meat and fish (or fermented fish) for centuries."

As in Worcestershire Sauce? (Stop slapping me!)

A few weeks ago I opened some "soup bones" we were given as a thank you when some friends split a grass-fed beef. Most were wonderful for stock making but two pieces of shank were just too darned good. A nice cross section of marrow bone and a large amount of meat - about 3 1/2 to 4# each. One will be my first fall braise.

Mike Pardus said...

RRS - Use a pork butt or shoulder - bone out - make brown pork stock from bones. Follow the instructions I gave - what do you want it to taste like? Rub it with that, infuse the liquid with it, etc...

Carnitas? Maybe Mexican oregano, black pepper, cumin, chipotle. Brown the meat, remove, add more oil if needed, make a sofrito of onions, garlic and a couple of mild chilies - maybe a couple of charred tomatoes if you like.

Add Pork back to pot, add stock, put in low oven and cook for a long time. Taste, add other stuff if you think it needs it, remove pork from liquid, reduce liquid until rich and yummy, add salt and more of anything else you want until it's perfect (hint: it will probably want to be adjusted at the end with a splash of something acidic - vinegar, lime juice - that's your call...but don't make it taste sour. Only YOU know it's in there, but the acid will balance the salt and umami.

Wing'll probably impress yourself.

boberica said...

I've been holding on to summer desperately, and not braising is just one of the ways. I knew it was unavoidable when these two things happened yesterday morning.
1- my meat purveyor dropped off 16 organic lamb shanks to trial.
2- Our brilliant brewmaster, Cam, tapped his Belgian duval style.
It's pretty neat, the flavor combinations braising affords.
at home, I'm a big fan of utilization braises to season up the house on a cold day of yard work. ain't fall grand

redredsteve said...

Thanks for the tips, Mike. We'll give it a go this weekend. I'm debating on making my own flour tortillas for it as well; it's something I've been wanting to try as well and this would be a good opportunity.

Boberica - You wanted to hang on to summer and then talked yourself into fall all in the same post! Those Belgians sure knew what they were doing though, didn't they? Mmmm... Now I'm craving a room temp barley wine and a nice fat Gherka over a pile of poker chips. I know barley wines are English but they always remind me of Belgians because of the complexity, strength, and those great glasses they're both served in.

Linda said...

I'd love to hear how you cure your own olives, Mike. I often have access to some and need a good recipe to get me started.

As for braising, it's my favorite way of cooking the venison and elk that a hunter friend provides every year. One of my favorite additons are the dried morels collected in the spring. And always served with a lingonberry preserve. Heaven!

Craig Garrabrant said...

Being a current CIA student on extern (and former student of Chef Pardus,) I have fallen in love with braising. Chef's idea of following techniques and making up the recipe is excellent, and leaves the door open for all sorts of combinations.

I'm externing at the Mercer Kitchen in NYC, and the job I have adopted and adore is braising lamb shanks. I love it. The roar of searing off twenty shanks at a time is incredible. I love evenly browning (mailard reaction!) the shanks, caramelizing mirepoix, and cooking them for five hours. Such good times, it gets me going. Now I can understand why so many chefs love a good braise.

Excellent post. I'm a big fan of the blog, by the way. Keep up the great work.