To me, braising is one of the greatest methods of cooking. I have to say I am on a bit of a braising kick since we did the braising lesson in the Rouxbe Cooking School. If you haven’t already done this lesson and you like braised dishes, it’s a must. You’ll be braising without a recipe in no time.
Basically you take good ingredients, do a bit of prep, then through some slow and low cooking (which you have nothing to do with) the ingredients just come together like magic. When I am having guests over for dinner, I often make some kind of make-ahead braised dish because it’s easy and hassle-free leaving little to do when the guests arrive.
A few weeks ago I had some friends over for dinner and I wanted to see just how little I could spend on making a dinner for 10 people (not because I am cheap, just because I know that you don’t have to spend a fortune to make a good meal). I was in the mood for something kind of “Italiany”, so I thought I would make some kind of chicken cacciatore-type dish.
The base for the sauce was shallots, garlic, tomatoes, white wine and sweet spicy peppers (I only added these as I have had this jar for over a year…but they were fantastic and now I want some more).
I then floured and seared off the chicken thighs, added them to the sauce, topped the whole thing up with chicken stock and that was literally it.
I then cooked it in a 200°F oven for about 3 hours until it was fork tender and was falling off the bone.
I served it with some sauteed carrots and soft polenta. Simple and tasty. Honestly, I think I spent less than $4.00 per person (minus of course the wine) and I am sure no one even thought about how much it cost… I even had enough leftover to have it the next day and it was even better.
Here is a copy of the recipe for my “Tuscan Braised Chicken” for those that would like to try it. I made double this which served about 10-12 with leftovers.
What’s your favorite make-ahead meal for dinner parties?
Ciao for now