Cooking Tip – How to Braise Meat

If you want to enjoy a gourmet meal using inexpensive cuts of meat then you’ll want to learn how to “braise”. Braising means browning the meat oil and/or butter then slowly cooking in a covered roasting pan. The meat is covered in a liquid which usually includes some combination of water, broth and red or white wine. Cooking time can take from one to several hours as this method is used to tenderize and intensify the flavors in the meat and accompanying vegetables. Despite the time frame, most recipes are usually fairly simple and don’t require any advanced skills.

Follow these basic steps and you and your family or friends will thoroughly enjoy the results.

Step 1-Choose your favorite cut of meat. Lamb, beef, veal or pork shanks are very common in these recipes. Beef shoulder roast, chuck roast or brisket are also good choices. These cuts are usually tougher with higher levels of collagen. Collagen, when cooked at low temperatures for an extended time creates a gelatin which helps the tenderizing process. You can use chicken but it should not be skinless and bone should be in. Legs and thighs work best. The real secret is in the slow cooking.

Step 2-Brown the meat in some type of fat… olive oil, butter or some combination suggested in the particular recipe. The browning process is intended to add color and flavor enhancement. Frequently, the recipe may call for rolling the meat in flour seasoned with salt and fresh ground pepper. Again… a flavor enhancement. The browning process is done in a Dutch oven or large heavy pot with a lid. The browning step may take 10 -20 minutes to cover all sides of the meat. It only cooks the surface of the meat and the searing locks in flavor.

Some tips… the meat should be patted dry and free of moisture or it will “steam” more than brown… don’t crowd the meat so any moisture can escape. Size of the portions, if not whole, should be the roughly the same for even cooking.

Step 3-Add liquids. As I mentioned earlier, depending on the type of meat and recipe, you can use wine, water, stock/broth… usually a combination of these liquids. At this point you will usually add onions, garlic, spices, vegetables and any other flavoring you may like. Some cooks/recipes say don’t cover the meat & vegetables entirely. I have covered with liquid and the results are very good.

Step 4-Cover the Dutch oven or pan. You can cook over a stove top or in the oven. I prefer the oven as it provides more even cooking on all sides and results in the best flavor and tenderizing. Follow the recipe for the correct oven temperature. Remember it will always be low… 300-325* or less.

Here are some typical cooking times…

Lamb shanks… 4-6 each a pound… 2 ½ hours

Veal shanks… 4-6 each a pound… 2-2 ½ hours

Shoulder roast… 3-4 pounds… roughly an hour per pound

Chicken (remember bone in/skin on)… 1-1 ½ hours

Give ‘braising” a try… you don’t have to be a gourmet cook to enjoy a wonderful meal!


Food Garnishing Tips and Decoration Ideas

, unorganized and every-day picnics. Why not throw the picnic or party that everyone would want to attend. Everyone who is anyone in your circle of friends will come and will be talking about the awesome party you put together for days, weeks or even years. Have you ever gone to a party and wondered, “how did she do that?” or thought, “they are so creative”.

You can be that person that everyone is talking about. You can be that creative host or hostess that would throw an interesting event.

Food garnishing tips and decoration ideas can be found in a variety of places. If you cannot think of ideas on your own, just Google it! You can find books at the department store, or you could copy an idea from a friend or associate when you attend one their parties or picnics.

Disney has been a major part of my niece’s life and she’s a huge fan. She has decorated watermelon slices into the shape of Mickey Ears with a Popsicle stick inserted as handles. She has made princess cupcakes for her daughter’s birthday. Her mother, my sister cuts apples into flower designs, places on skewers sticks for the beautiful edible bouquet. I found a recipe to create Pilgrim hats from cookies, candy and icing.

Have you ever tried to be creative? I, personally, have trouble thinking outside the box, but it doesn’t stop me from having a unique and inviting event. Even if you can’t think of your own ideas, you can certainly take advantage of ideas from others to make creations for your specially-themed event. Your themed party can be more interesting with a few helpful hints for food garnishing and food decorating. Don’t worry about “having two thumbs”. Food garnishing tips and decoration ideas that you find in your search will provide for you very easy-to-follow directions.

Like I said, I am not usually able to create my own ideas, but when I search for ideas, I am able to make these creations with a little time, patience and instructions.

Here are few food garnishing tips and decoration ideas that I’m excited to share with you. These I have found in my search to add a little extra touch to my dinner parties, my picnics and when we are theming out a banquet or wedding event.

By using some snack size milky way bars, some plain m&ms candies and a few teddy grahams, you can make these cute little cars for a child’s birthday party, or a Nascar themed event. The milk way is the body of the car, the m&ms are the wheels and the teddy graham is stuffed in at the top, toward the back as if it’s the driver.

You could also use a few sliced bananas, add some cut-up kiwi and add some halo pieces placed perfectly on a plate will create a summer themed treat. Your guests can enjoy fresh fruit around this beautiful display. (The banana makes the trunk of a palm tree, the kiwi makes up the top of the tree, while the tangelos pieces make up the sandy beach.

Another great idea that I have used at Thanksgiving is the fall foliage acorn. If you take a Hershey kiss, with a chocolate chip and half of a nutter butter round to create the perfect looking acorn favors. Placing the kiss, lightly melted to the nutter butter cookie and finish the top of the nutter butter with a small chocolate chip, lightly melted, so it sticks, will give you a cute little acorn to place on each dinner plate as a favor.

Food garnishing tips and decoration ideas can be found easily now because of the opportunity that the great world-wide web has provided to all of us. Google it!

Make your next party the one everyone talks about for a long time to come.