April 24, 2017

Simple, Real Food: Fall Cooking

Indian lamb curry with potatoes.

Indian lamb curry with potatoes.

Fall is definitely here and so I am getting out the sweaters and flannel sheets.  It’s also time for making stews, soups and comfort foods.

I turn to braising for my favorite meal and last night cooked a delicious Indian curried lamb stew.  Served with steamed basmati rice and roasted cauliflower, we were very satisfied at our house.

Braising is a very popular method of cooking less tender cuts of meat, root vegetables and dark meat chicken. The long, slow cooking process not only gives flavor but breaks down the connective tissue in the protein leaving you with a melt in your mouth, falling off the bone result.  Think Ossobuco or your Mom’s best pot roast and you have braising at its best.  The liquid most often has an acid in it such as wine, tomatoes, alcohol or citrus and sometimes it may include all of these.  The acid is there to help tenderize and adds to producing a delicious sauce at the same time.

Vegetables are the exception since they are relatively tender.  The braising liquid consists of good quality stock with flavorings added such as fresh herbs, butter, olive oil or whole spices.

My favorite saucepan to use for braising is a large Le Creuset Dutch oven with a tight fitting lid.  Any similar saucepan will do but the weight of a cast iron pan is ideal to hold in the heat over the time it takes to get the desired result.  Crock pots are the perfect braising item and it’s almost a no-brainer since you can set the temperature on low and leave it for hours.

Here are some wonderful recipes for your enjoyment to showcase the perfect food for this chilly weather.

Indian Lamb Curry with Potatoes

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients

2 ½ pounds lean boneless lamb or beef cut into 1½ inch chunks*

4 Tb. vegetable oil

2 black cardamom pods

1 cassia leaf- bay leaf can be used

½ tsp. black cumin ( nigella)

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tb. minced ginger

1 Tb. ground coriander

1 tsp. Indian chili powder or cayenne

1 tsp. turmeric

8 oz. tomato puree

1 1/2 cups water

4 small potatoes, cut into large dice

2 tsp. salt

1 tsp. garam masala

4 Tb. chopped cilantro

Procedure

  1. Heat 1 Tb. of the oil in a large      skillet and sauté the meat until browned, transfer to a plate and set      aside.
  2. Heat the remaining 3 Tb. of oil      and add the cardamom, cassia, cumin and onion. Cook stirring occasionally      until the onion is browned about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger,      coriander, chili powder, turmeric, tomato puree, water, potato, salt and      meat and bring to a boil. Lower the heat, cover and cook until the meat is      tender about 1 ½ hours.
  3. Stir in the garam masala and      cilantro and remove the pan from the heat. Let it rest for 15 minutes and      serve.

*If you prefer using chicken and are using boneless skinless chicken breasts brown in step one and then add in for step three with the garam masala. For dark meat cook the chicken for 20 minutes.

Braised Greek Chicken with Artichokes

Serves 4

Ingredients

4 large chicken thighs

Salt and pepper

½ cup flour

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

1 cup dry white wine

3 sprigs rosemary, chopped

2 tsp. thyme, chopped

1 tsp. oregano, crumbled

1 can artichoke hearts, packed in water, drained and halved

1 cup chicken broth

2 lemons, juiced

Procedure

  1. Heat the oven to 425. Rinse the      chicken and pat dry. Season the flour well with salt and pepper. Dredge      the chicken in the seasoned flour.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet      over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook turning once until browned      about 15 minutes. Add the wine and herbs and reduce the wine to about      half. Add the artichokes, chicken broth and lemon juice and lower the heat      to a simmer, cover the pan and cook until tender about 45 minutes.
  3. Uncover and cook until the sauce      is thickened about 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper and serve with      the pan juices poured over.

Italian Hunters Chicken

Serves 4

Ingredients

2 Tb. olive oil

1 whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces, rinsed, patted dry

1 medium onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup dry white wine

1, 28 oz. can plum tomatoes, chopped with their juices

1 bay leaf

2 tsp. rosemary, chopped

2 tsp. thyme, chopped

1/4 cup minced parsley

2 Tb. basil, snipped, garnish

Salt, pepper

Procedure

1. Heat the oil in a large high sided saute pan over med-hi heat. Saute the chicken on both sides seasoning with salt and pepper about 8 minutes, until golden brown. Remove the chicken from the pan and set aside.

2. Add onions and garlic to the pan and saute 5 to 8 minutes, until translucent.

3. Add wine and de-glaze the pan. Add tomatoes, with their juices, bay leaf, rosemary, thyme and parsley. Reduce heat to low add chicken back to the pan, partially cover and simmer for 20 minutes, removing white meat after 12 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. Season the sauce with salt and pepper to taste.

4. Serve garnished with the basil over rice pilaf or plain cooked pasta.

Amanda Cushman

Amanda Cushman

Editor’s Note: Amanda Cushman of Simple Real Food Inc., is a culinary educator who has cooked professionally for over 30 years.  She has taught corporate team building classes for over 15 years for a variety of Fortune 500 companies including Yahoo, Nike and Google.  She began her food career in the eighties and worked with Martha Stewart and Glorious Foods before becoming a recipe developer for Food and Wine magazine as well as Ladies Home Journal.  Having lived all over the United States including Boston, NYC, Miami and Los Angeles, she has recently returned to her home state of Connecticut where she continues to teach in private homes as well as write for local publications. 

Chef Amanda teaches cooking classes for all levels along the Shoreline both privately and at locations such as White Gate farm and the Weekend Kitchen. For more information, click here to visit her website.

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