Do­mes­tic dilem­mas

Friday - - Friday Contents -

Chef Sil­vena Rowe an­swers your culi­nary queries.

Q My fam­ily loves casseroles, but when­ever I braise meat, it looks un­ap­petis­ing and tastes bland. Please sug­gest a fool­proof method.

A Once you get it right, brais­ing is a de­li­cious and fuss-free way to pre­pare a hearty casse­role. It is re­ally healthy, all about imag­i­na­tion and does not re­quire much su­per­vi­sion.

Here’s a way to make a per­fect casse­role: First of all, cut the meat and veg­eta­bles into chunks, en­sur­ing that they are the same size. Don’t cut them too fine as they will cook too quickly and will not give you a rich dish.

Sea­son the meat and veg­eta­bles with salt, pep­per, dried herbs and spices. Then heat a large, heavy-bot­tomed pan over high heat and add a driz­zle of oil – enough to make a thin layer in the pan. Care­fully slide in the meat and veg­eta­bles and sauté over high heat un­til they turn a deep brown colour on all sides.

Don’t worry if it be­gins to stick at the bot­tom slightly – this process of sear­ing is vi­tal as it en­sures the meat does not look pale and bland and gives the sauce its rich colour.

Once the in­gre­di­ents have dark­ened, add liq­uid, which can be wa­ter or stock. The quan­tity of liq­uid should be enough to en­sure that the meat and veg­eta­bles are cov­ered half way.

Re­duce the heat and cover. Sim­mer un­til the meat and veg­eta­bles are cooked through. If you want a thick sauce, then I would rec­om­mend that you take the cover off to­wards the end of cook­ing, but take care to en­sure that all the liq­uid does not evap­o­rate and your dish does not burn at the base.

You can also pre­pare this dish in the oven. All you need to do is en­sure your pan is oven­proof or trans­fer the in­gre­di­ents into an oven­proof dish once you’ve browned them off.

Poul­try and small cuts of meat gen­er­ally take about 45 min­utes to cook, ribs and tough shanks take about six hours and veg­eta­bles take no more than 30 min­utes. So make sure to add the veg­eta­bles to­wards the end of cook­ing if your meat will take longer.

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