Braising--cooking food slowly and at low temperatures in a closed pot with a little liquid--produces deeply flavorful food. Molly Stevens's All About Braising
is a definitive exploration of this soul-satisfying approach to food. With 125 simple recipes for braises of all kinds--from meat and poultry through seafood and vegetables, plus a thorough anatomy of technique (Stevens explores oven versus stovetop braising, for example)--the book will please cooks at every skill level. Most importantly, perhaps, it will send them to the kitchen to prepare enticing dishes such as Braised Endive with Prosciutto, Whole Chicken Braised with Pears and Rosemary, Duck Ragu with Pasta, and Veal Shoulder Braised with Figs & Sherry. Braises can also taste as good or better the next day, and Stevens supplies advice for second-day service. Included, too, is an "Opinionated Pantry" which, besides exploring relevant ingredients, expresses Stevens's ongoing commitment to using only the best and freshest available.
Throughout, Stevens's offers sensible, rewarding counsel. "If it comes down to a matter of cooking or not cooking dinner for your family," she says, "I recommend buying commercially raised chicken [as opposed to locally produced or other naturally raised poultry]. Make a satisfying home cooked meal, and sit down and enjoy it with your family." In other words, Stevens is wise. "The act of cooking on a regular basis will make you a better cook," she concludes, "and will improve the quality of your life and of those around you." --Arthur Boehm
From Publishers Weekly
Cuisines as diverse as Vietnamese, Moroccan, Italian, British and American all use braising; the technique can be a means to cook everything from vegetables to pork belly. Stevens, a Fine Cooking
contributing editor, says that braising is simply "tucking a few ingredients into a heavy pot with a bit of liquid, covering the pot tightly and letting everything simmer peacefully until tender and intensely flavored." With the help of appetite-inducing photos of Vietnamese Braised Scallops, and Braised Endive with Prosciutto, Stevens illustrates just how exciting a braise can be. "Braising," she clarifies, "is a building process. The cook adds layer upon layer of flavor, nuance, and character to a dish at each stage." Although braising is a relatively simple cooking method, Stevens takes her time explaining it, drawing on food science to explain not just how, but why (for example, "Give food plenty of space," because "If the pan is too crowded... the released moisture can't escape and will cause the meat to steam, not brown"). Aside from Stevens's sometimes superfluous prose and ho-hum anecdotes, the book contains interesting tasting notes and cultural information, and Stevens's lengthy instructions will be particularly valuable to beginners. Photos, line drawings.
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