The kindness of a stranger isn't something one quickly forgets
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I held my breath and clicked Send. An email written, re-written, and generally overthought for longer than I'd like to admit.
Would it be possible to build a community of Iowa food writers?
I'd read so many of their words over the past weeks, and found them to be people I'd genuinely love to know. A husband and wife team who reviews restaurants and diners, a coop in Iowa City, stories of the faces behind our food, university extension and outreaches, and places to find a darn good recipe for tonight's dinner
I'll never forget her response. It was warm and welcoming, encouraging, and thoughtful. But above all else, it was kind.
This week, as our house filled with the incredible smells of roasted garlic and braised chicken, I couldn't help but think it fitting that someone with a big heart would write a cookbook all about braising.
These are the kinds of dishes you'll want to share with others around your kitchen table, or have in the oven when your husband walks in the door after a long day. Their aromas fill the house with the kinds of smells that make you happy and warm. The perfect recipes really, for making a house .. a home.
What is braising?
Wini describes it best
Braising is a cooking method that calls on low, moist heat and lengthy cooking times to cook foods, especially meats and poultry. The meat is browned in fat (such as butter or cooking oil) then covered and cooked in a small amour of wine, broth, beer, or water. Through this cooking process, the meat's fats melt away, its tough fibers soften, and its flavors become rich and flavorful. Finally, the pan juices become the basis of a succulent sauce – or even the sauce itself
Braising is a much-loved way to turn less expensive cuts of meat such as pork shoulder, beef chuck, and chicken thighs into thoroughly satisfying, boldly flavored dishes. It's also a relatively easy way to cook and entertain: Much of the work is done up-fornt and most of the cooking time is hands-off. Classic braises include Beef Bourguignon, Coq au Vin, and Osso Bucco; however, the technique can apply to a world of contemporary flavors.
We chose a classic that many have written over the years: Chicken With 40 Cloves of Garlic. Some recipes call for unpeeled garlic; others use cloves that are peeled because they lend a greater intensity to the garlic flavor. Other variations include such things as the selection of chicken parts, or liquids used.
We really enjoyed this version. It uses peeled cloves, and once the chicken is removed from the pan, the garlic continues to cook while it's being mashed. Then a quick whisking is employed to make a smooth sauce. It's well with the effort
The amount of garlic may seem excessive, but this dish is all about highlighting its softer side. The slow cooking time mellows its normally strong taste and aroma, creating instead a mild paste that is sweet, flavorful, and absolutely wonderful.
ps: Worried about peeling all of that garlic? Try this super simple (and really fun!) technique
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Braised Chicken with Roasted Garlic
- 4 lb chicken, cut into 8 pieces (or 4 lbs of chicken pieces)
- salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 3 Tbsp unsalted butter, divided
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 40 cloves garlic, peeled (you can use up to 100 cloves)
- 1 Tbsp herbes de Provence
- ½ cup dry white wine
- ¾ cup chicken broth
- 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 350° F.
- Season the chicken lightly with salt and pepper.
- Heat the butter and olive oil in a 3-½ quart braiser over medium-high heat; add the chicken and cook, turning often, until it is golden brown on all sides (~ about 10 to 15 minutes)
- Transfer the chicken to a plate and drain off all but 1 Tbsp of the liquid from pan.
- Lower the heat to medium.
- Add the garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until they starting to turn color (but aren't completely brown) about 2 minutes.
- Add the herbes de Provence, white wine and chicken broth to the pan; bring to a boiling, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
- Return the chicken to the braiser, skin side up. Cover and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.
- Baste the chicken with the juices from the pan.
- Return the chicken to the oven and bake, uncovered until it is tender and no longer pink (170°F for breasts, 180°F for thighs and drumsticks), 20 to 30 minutes more.
- Remove chicken to a serving platter, and cover with aluminum foil if you need to keep it warm.
- Return the braiser to the stovetop, over medium-high heat. If it looks like there’s less than ½ cup pan juices left, add additional wine to equal about ½ cup.
- Bring the pan juices to a boil while using a fork to mash the garlic cloves, whisking the pulp into the liquid as you work.
- Add the lemon juice.
- Whisk in the last of the butter, 1 Tbsp at a time, until it's incorporated.
- Divide chicken among four serving plates and top each serving with some of the sauce. Serve with a side salad or your favorite veggie side