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On Sale this Week: To Braise or Not To Braise?

18 January 2017  
What does it mean to braise something?

Braising is a cooking technique that combines searing and cooking at low temperature in a liquid. This technique is generally used on tough cuts of meat, because the long slow cooking dissolves the fat and connective tissues, leaving you with a tender, flavorful meal. This technique is used in most cuisines. India, Thailand, Russia, East Africa and France all have their braised dishes. Braising can be done on the stovetop or in the oven. The slow cooker can be used for a type of braising, but we’ll discuss that later.

Braising begins by searing meat or vegetables (yes, vegetables!) in a heavy pan, then removing the seared food, adding some aromatic chopped vegetables (mirepoix—pronounced mere-pwah). A classic mirepoix would be onion, celery and carrot, chopped but not too fine. Continue cooking at the same temperature, stirring and turning until golden brown. Other vegetables such as garlic, mild peppers or fennel could be added or substituted. Next add flavorful liquid to the pan, heating and scraping up the browned bits of food left by searing. For meats the liquid is usually acidic to help tenderize. Wine, apple cider, tomatoes with their juice, stock with a little balsamic vinegar or a combination are all good. Return the seared item to the pan and cook it at a low temperature until it is done. Use a very slow simmer on the stovetop or a temperature of around 250º F. in the oven. Sometimes additional whole vegetables are added toward the end of the cooking time. The left over liquid is usually transformed into a sauce.

An iron skillet or dutch oven (preferably enameled) is often recommended because you need to keep the braise at a low but even temperature. Nowadays, heavy pots, fryers, and skillets are made with several layers of different metals in the bottom. Those work fine too.

Many foods are wonderful when braised. Meats such as beef chuck roasts and pork shoulder roasts are ideal. Vegetables can also be tasty when braised. Of course they don’t take very long to cook, but the technique is the same.

Chefs say that we taste first with our eyes, so to add that extra touch, garnish with something colorful, Italian parsley leaves, finely chopped red or green sweet pepper, minced spring onions, a minced herb or combination of herbs, grated orange peel or chopped olives. Anything which provides color contrast and a bit of fresh taste can be exciting.

Now what about that slow cooker? Most slow cooker recipes are not actually braises. They usually involve more liquid than is ideal and because of the way a slow cooker works, nearly all the liquid, both that exuded by the food and what you add, is captured. This is more like stewing then braising. With care, an approximation can be obtained. Be sure to sear meat well. It is normally not practical to bother with slow cooking vegetables. Deglaze the pan and add to the liquid in cooker. Be sure not to add more liquid than what will come up to one third the height of the meat. Especially with poultry, check from time to time to make sure the liquid hasn’t gotten too high. If it has, remove some and reserve. When meat is done, remove it to a serving dish and cover Pour the liquid into a pot to reduce until it becomes thickened and/or syrupy.

Remember that Fry’s and Safeway require a member card to get the advertised prices. Both stores have digital coupons, although Safeway does allow clipped coupons for some items. Sprouts has “double ad Wednesday” each week. Both last week’s ad and this week’s ad are valid on Wednesday only.

On Sale This Week

These prices are based on those available in the Quad Cities area. If you live elsewhere they may differ.

Ads

Fry's

Safeway

Sprouts

Fry’s

Fry’s has a 2x fuel point coupon in the ad which is good from 1/18 through 1/31

Produce

$.99/each—Pineapple, limit 4
$.75/pk—Blackberries, 6 oz, limit 4
$1.49/lb—Broccoli or Cauliflower,Arizona Grown
$1.99/lb—Grapes, seedless, red or green

Meats

$1.99/lb Ground beef, 3 lb. Roll
$2.99/lb Pork—Center cut chops, bone in, super value pack
$6.99/lb—Beef, Flat iron steaks, boneless
$1.29/lb—Chicken, Thighs or legs, Heritage Farms

Miscellaneous

Buy 6 get $3 off (you must buy in multiples of 6 to get these prices)
$.99/can—Campbell’s Chunky Soups, select varieties
$1.49/box—General Mills Cereals, select varieties
$.99/can—Hormel chili with beans
$99/each—Kleenex brand facial tissues, 50-100 count, select varieties

Simple Truth Organic Items

$2/bag—Corn chips, 9 oz, select varieties
$1.99/each—Frozen Fruit, 10 oz, select varieties

Safeway

Safeway $5 Friday Deals

Valid Friday January 20

Everything on the list is $5

Tyson Cornish Hens—2 pack, frozen*

Coca-cola—20 pack, select varieties, limit 2

Lucerne AA Large Eggs—5 dozen (60), select varieties

Primo Taglio Chicken Breast—per pound, sliced fresh in deli

Bacon Wrapped Cream Cheese Stuffed Jalapeños—per pound, made fresh in store daily

Bliss Bouquet—Floral department.

*Be sure to stock up on the Cornish Hens, next week we'll be featuring a special recipe with game hens!

Produce

$2.99/lb—Cherries
$1/each—Bell peppers, red, yellow, orange
$2.50/each—Grape tomatoes, 11 oz pkg
$.99 strawberries, 16 oz, limit 2

Meats

$1.99/lb Ground Beef, fresh ground in store, 5 lb. minimum
$3.97/lb—Beef, New York strip steak, bone in, family pack
$.88/lb—Chicken, Sanderson Farms, bone in, breasts, thighs, legs, jumbo pack
$.88/lb—Pork, Sirloin chops, bone in, family pack

Miscellaneous

$1.77/each—Lays chips, family size, select varieties, must buy 3, limit-one reward
$1.47/dozen—Eggs, Lucerne, large, AA
$1.99/each—Cheerios, 11.5-12.25 oz, select varieties

Click or Clip Coupons

$1.99/each—Refreshe water, 24 pk, with coupon, limit 4
$1.99/each—Crackers, Nabisco premium saltines, with coupon, limit 4
$.88/each—Bumblebee, Chunk Light Albacore 5 oz, Chunk Light pouch, with coupon, limit 6
$.88/each—Greek Yogurt, Chobani or Oikos, select varieties, with coupon, limit 10
$1/each—Bar-S meats, select sizes and varieties, with coupon, limit 4

Sprouts

Produce

$1 for 3—Hass Avocados
$.88/lb—Opal apples, Navel oranges, Maradol papayas, Green beans, cauliflower
$.88/each—Hothouse cucumbers, Baby carrots, 1 lb pkg
$.98/lb—Organic Fruits, Pears-Bosc, D’anjou, Barlett, Red, Mangos-Tropical Red
$.50/lb—Roma tomatoes, Yellow squash, Onions-yellow and red,

Meats

$1.67/lb—Chicken breast, Boneless, skinless, fresh, trimmed in store
$4.99/lb—Bacon, Old Time Butcher Shop, thick cut, hickory smoked
$.99/lb—Beef, Rump roast, Arizona Grown, never frozen
$4.99 lb. Ground Beef, 93% super-lean, Arizona grown

Miscellaneous

25% off—Bring on the Beans sale, select varieties in bulk
$1.50/each—Blue Diamond not thins, select varieties
$.88/each—Chobani Greek yogurt, select varieties
$2.50/gal—Coconut Milk, So Delicious
$3/each—Arctic Zero, frozen desserts, select varieties

Recipes

Braised Fennel and Red Onions

Ingredients

2 bulbs fennel
1 red onion
4 mini sweet peppers or one red bell pepper
1 stalk celery
Handful of flat (Italian) parsley leaves (no stems)
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice + a teaspoon of grated orange zest

Directions

You will need a heavy 12-14 inch skillet with a tight fitting lid, tongs and a wooden tool with a flat end. (Don’t know if it has a name-I’ve had one for a long time but never had much use for it before I started braising—it is perfect for scraping the brown bits after searing without damaging the pan.)

First cut up all the vegetables.

Cut the tops off the fennel, saving some of the feathery part, if there is any, for garnish. Trim off any discolored parts and trim the root end, but leave as much as you can. Cut the bulb in half, top to bottom, then cut each half into slices and spears, leaving a bit of root on each piece. Try not to have any pieces more than 1 inch thick, 1/2 to 3/4 inch is better. You may need to remove an outer leaf from some sections, this is ok.

Now cut up the onion.The same general directions apply as for the fennel, only the slices and spears should be around 1/2 inch, not much more.

Dice the celery, carrot and 2 of the sweet red peppers in a quarter inch dice. The other two peppers should be cut into strips or rings.

Heat your skillet over medium high heat, add 1 Tablespoon of the olive oil, don’t let it smoke. Add a layer of fennel pieces, sear them without moving until browned, two or three minutes, then turn over with tongs, carefully. Sear on the other side, 1 to2 minutes. Remove from skillet, place on a plate, add another Tablespoon of olive oil and repeat with the rest of the fennel pieces, the onion pieces and the pepper strips and/or rings, adding a Tablespoon of oil each time. Remove all pieces to plate. Add the diced celery, and sweet peppers to the pan, stir and start scraping up the brown bits. Add the orange juice and orange zest, reduce the heat to medium. Continue stirring and scrapping until the orange juice begins to simmer.

Add the fennel and onion slices, turn once to coat with orange juice. Cover and cook for 10-15 minutes. After 5 minutes check, spoon juices over, add sweet pepper, make sure temperature is correct. The juice should be simmering. At the end of 10 minutes check again. When done, the fennel will be easily pierced by a fork but not mushy (crisp/tender). If not done you may need to add a little water to keep from burning, not too much as you want the remaining liquid to be syrupy. When done, carefully remove onions, fennel and pepper to a plate or shallow bowl. Pour the liquid over, garnish with a little chopped parsley or fennel fronds.

More Braising Ideas

Want more? Below you will find a wide selection of Pinterest braising recipes from around the world.

 

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Cindy LaMaster