Chef’s Recipe: Braised Short Ribs or Pork Shoulder

We are going to transform a tougher, fattier and typically less appealing piece of protein into a tender and flavorful dish by braising it. Braising is a traditional technique combining boiling and roasting. This time of year, it is a favorite among families, since it typically requires very little preparation and is fairly easy to cleanup after. The most common version of this technique is the all American ‘pot roast’ that almost all of us can relate to and remember eating with our families.

If kept refrigerated, this recipe can be prepared up to two days before it needs to be served. Furthermore, it is a wholesome and healthy meal that can serve as a go-to idea for a busy family.

What you will need:

* A large stew pot or roasting pan (this technique works equally well in a crock pot or slow cooker)

* A frying pan or castiron skillet

* 2-3oz of oil

* Vegetables (celery, carrots, onions, and red potatoes)

* Braising liquid, see recipe.

* A fairly large piece of meat, typically a tougher and fattier cut like a roast or shoulder cut. These are typically labeled as such by the meat cutters at our grocers.

* Salt and pepper

How we braise:

1. Almost any cut of meat, if large enough can be braised, smaller pieces typically overcook too quickly and rarely ever reach the intended tenderness. I recommend 1lb of roast per two people to be fed; of course this can vary by appetite and taste. We start by heavily seasoning the meat with salt and pepper and then proceeding to sear the meat evenly on all sides to a deep and delicious brown color. You will need a medium hot pan and a small amount of oil. I usually use the roasting pan. Turn the meat every 60 seconds or so until most easily accessible edges are crispy and colored.

2. Next, we will need to make a simple braising liquid. This can be done when you transfer the roast to the roasting pan or slow cooker. Start with 1 quart of liquid, water is fine but stock is preferable, if you can find some in your grocer. Pour this liquid over the roast in the pot, and then add around one cup of an acid, typically vinegar or wine, for its flavor and its usefulness in breaking down the tougher parts of the proteins while balancing the fats typically found in most roasts. The total amount of liquid should only surround the roast and not cover it. We want to have some exposed to the air. Typically about 1/3 of the meat should be poking out of the liquid.

3. Lastly, adjust seasoning by adding salt, pepper and maybe a couple sprigs of fresh herbs, usually thyme or rosemary. This would also be the time in which you could incorporate vegetables or other root plants, like potatoes. This will add flavor and create a handy way to cook everything at once. Make sure that they are cut in large pieces and are all similar in size. This helps to cook them evenly with the roast and will help keep them from falling apart during cooking.

Cook the now completed meat at 240 degrees Fahrenheit for two to three hours until fork tender. The end result should be a piece of tender meat that easily breaks into portions.

Chef’s Recipe: Adena Crispy Skin Roasted Chicken

The focus for this recipe is to understand how to transform a relatively large and sometimes intimidating piece of meat (in this case a whole chicken) into an easy meal for 3-5 people. The steps in this recipe can be used for any other types of roasts, pork loins, rib roasts, duck or rabbit. Not only does roasting provide a flavorful and complex dish it can serve as a reasonably healthy cooking method. There is little to no fat added in this technique and what we do add is used sparingly to accomplish a great deal of flavor.

Learning how to properly roast is really just figuring out how to manipulate temperatures and cooking times to create the desired “doneness.”

My favorite part of roasting is the sensory effect that this dish provides by filling the house with anticipation; it’s a lot like baking in the sense that it broadcasts the meal beforehand.

This recipe can be prepared up to two days prior, if kept refrigerated, and can be a wholesome and healthy meal serving as a-go-to for a busy family.

– A roasting pan

– 2-3oz of oil or real unsalted butter

– Vegetables (celery, carrots, onions, red potatoes)

– 1 large responsibly raised and processed chicken – 3-5 lbs. (They call these “roasters” in the butcher’s section; “Fryers” are typically smaller and younger birds.)

– Salt and pepper

* Begin by pulling your chicken or roast out of the fridge about an hour prior to when you you plan to begin cooking it (keep in mind that cooking time is about an hour). This allows for the meat to temper, meaning to bring the meat nearer to room temperature before cooking, resulting in it cooking more evenly throughout. Rinse your chicken thoroughly and pat dry with a paper towel, make sure to inspect the cavity of the bird and remove anything that may still be inside.

* Next preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit; anything cooler will impair the crisping of the skin or the browning of a roast. While preheating the oven, coat the now dry chicken with a small amount of olive oil or unsalted butter. Though chicken is a typically self-basting item, due to its layer of fat just under the skin, the healthier free-range birds will not have as much, so a little added fat helps out with the browning process. Season the whole bird with salt and pepper, including the cavity, a lot of the cooking process occurs within the bird and some seasoning can help to circulate throughout while cooking. For some added spice, you can place any type of aromatic within the cavity, rosemary and a squeezed lemon is a common and appropriate choice.

– Lastly place any other vegetables or small, even cut potatoes in the roasting pan around the bird if desired. The cooking process and the pan drippings will make a tasty side dish to complete your meal. If using vegetables, be careful with the amount of salt and pepper used. Too much can overpower the starch or vegetables.

* Cook your now seasoned and tempered bird in the oven for about an hour until golden brown and crispy all over. An internal temperature of the hind leg meat should reach 160 degrees Fahrenheit. If you don’t have a thermometer, look for clear juices coming from the cavity of the bird. This is a sign that the internal parts have cooked throughout. When completely cooked, allow to rest for 15-20 minutes and carve as you would a turkey.