Wednesday, February 4, 2004

Recipes for braising

Braised Root Vegetables with Herbs

1 large sweet potato

2 Yukon gold potatoes

1 medium butternut or other winter squash

2 medium turnips or 1 parsnip

1 medium to large yellow onion

2 beets

1 head garlic, separated into cloves and peeled

1 to 11/2 sticks unsalted butter

1/2 to 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, or more to taste

1/2 teaspoon each: dried sage, oregano, thyme, rosemary, basil

1/2 teaspoon dried savory (optional)

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)

Sea salt, to taste

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Peel and cut vegetables into 2-inch pieces. Melt butter in oven-proof casserole. Add brown sugar and herbs and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add vegetables and garlic, stirring to coat well. Cover casserole and place in oven on middle rack. Braise 40 to 60 minutes or until vegetables are tender.

Turnips may be still fairly firm while other vegetables should be quite tender. Season to taste. Makes 4 to 5 servings.

Rita Heikenfeld

Pot Roast with Mushrooms, Tomatoes and Red Wine

1 boneless chuck-eye roast (about 31/2 pounds)

Salt and black pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 small carrot, chopped

1 small rib celery, chopped

10 ounces fresh white mushrooms, cleaned and quartered

2 medium cloves garlic, chopped

2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 cup chicken broth

1/2 cup beef broth

1/2 cup dry red wine

1 141/2-ounce can diced tomatoes, with juice

1 sprig fresh thyme

1 to 11/2 cups water

1 sprig fresh rosemary

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees. Pat roast dry with paper towels; season beef with salt and pepper.

Heat oil in large, heavy-bottomed Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering, but not smoking. Brown roast on all sides, about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer roast to large plate and set aside.

Reduce heat to medium; add onion, carrot, celery and mushrooms to pot and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Add garlic and sugar and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add chicken and beef broth, wine and thyme and scrape bottom of pan with wooden spoon.

Return roast and any accumulated juices to the pot; add enough water to come halfway up the sides of the roast. Place large piece of foil over pot and cover tightly with lid. Bring liquid to simmer over medium heat, then transfer pot to oven.

Cook, turning roast every 30 minutes, until fully tender and a meat fork easily slips into meat, about 31/2 to 4 hours

Transfer roast to carving board and tent with foil to keep warm. Allow liquid in pot to settle about 5 minutes, then skim fat off surface with wide spoon. Add rosemary sprig to liquid and bring to boil, stirring occasionally, until liquid is reduced to 11/2 cups. Remove and discard rosemary and thyme sprigs. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cut meat into 1/2 -inch slices or pull apart into large pieces. Transfer meat to serving platter or bowl, pour sauce over meat and serve. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Inside America's Test Kitchen (America's Test Kitchen; $29.95)

Slow-Cooked Lamb Shanks

6 small lamb shanks

Flour for dusting

Salt and pepper, to taste

2 tablespoons olive oil

6 red onions, peeled and finely sliced

1 handful chopped fresh rosemary

4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

3/4 cup balsamic vinegar

11/4 cups red wine

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix flour with salt and pepper. Dust lamb shanks with seasoned flour. In heavy-bottomed saucepan with lid, heat oil and brown shanks on all sides, then remove. Lower heat, add onions and cook about 10 to 15 minutes, until light brown. Add rosemary and garlic and cook another couple of minutes. Raise heat and add balsamic vinegar and wine. Reduce liquid for a couple of minutes.

Return lamb to pan, reduce heat and cover with piece of moistened parchment paper or foil, then the lid. Place pan in oven and cook about 2 to 21/2 hours. Check shanks from time to time, basting with juices and adding more wine if necessary. When done, lamb should be fall-off-the-bone tender. Serve shanks whole, with juices. Makes 6 servings.

Italian Country Cookbook (Random; $40)

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