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A FRESH Point of View: Braising

Braising, from the French “braiser,” means cooking ingredients in a covered pot in a small amount of liquid.  Braising is a cooking technique in which the main ingredient is seared, or browned in fat, and then simmered in liquid on low heat in a covered pot.  It is often used as a way to cook less expensive, tough cuts of meat; however, you can braise just about any fish, chicken or vegetable as well.  The end result is always tender and flavorful.

Aside from great taste, braising doesn’t require much attention.  Once you reduce the heat to simmer the dish, you can go about cooking other things, do some chores or take a break. This is also a plus when entertaining-you have more time for your guests.

Some popular dishes you may have heard of that use a braising technique are osso buco, pot roast, braised veal and lamb shanks and braised cabbage. Check out my recipe below for braised cauliflower purée.

Braised Cauliflower Purée

2 sweet yellow onions, chopped
3/4 lb any type of smoked bacon, chopped
2 heads of cauliflower, roughly chopped
1 cup white wine
1 1/2 quarts (about 6 cups) chicken stock
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste
Butter, to taste

In a hot pan, sauté onions to develop good color.

Add bacon. Once fat has rendered from bacon and the kitchen is smelling good add your chopped cauliflower and cook until it seems that all the goodies have come together and cauliflower is fork tender (you don’t want to cook it to mush because you want to hold as much as the nutrients as possible). Deglaze with white wine and chicken stock. Let simmer for 30 minutes.

In a vita prep (blender) fill half way (if you fill it to high: you are taking the chance of making a big mess, but more importantly the smaller the batch; the smoother you will be able to get it) and purée.  While puréeing add a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil (about 1/2 cup for whole batch).

Once all is puréed and you have it all married together in one pot, season with salt and pepper (kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper is the best for this). Finish by whipping a touch of butter and serve.

Side note: It is best to make ahead of time so you can let it cool in the fridge and then reheat.  I think this is very important on any soups, stews, etc. It lets all the flavors “meld” together as the Cajuns say.

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