I love braising but I don't do it a ton because my very excellent braising pan is also massive and way too big to make dinner for the three of us. I bust it out a few times a year when we have people over but when it's just my wee bunch, it's just not small enough. Imagine my delight when I opened my box of Nordic Ware treats and found an enamelled aluminum 3qt braiser (along with a 3qt dutch oven and a contraption for cooking chicken drumsticks). I was lucky enough to win a full pass to the 1st ever Canadian Food Bloggers Association of Canada's Food Blogger Conference, courtesy of Canadian Beef and Nordic Ware is providing all of the participants with some nice swag. I may be in love with you, Nordic Ware people.
Wow, that's a lot of links but check them all out anyway people.
I have a couple of enamelled cast iron pieces and I love them. I love how well they conduct heat, their non stick properties and they are lovely to look at. The only thing I don't love about them is their weight. Even empty, my big Le Crueset dutch oven is a hog and full of food? There are times when I worry about the odds of the hot pot making it from the oven to the stove top without being crashing through my oven door and smashing to the ground.
The cool thing about these enamalled aluminum cookware pieces is that they seem to have all the same heat conducting, wipe clean non stickiness but they weigh almost nothing. I made some meat sauce in the dutch oven and it was great - really just like my Le Crueset but, unlike my bazillion pound Le Crueset, I could pick up this pot full of bolognese sauce and move it without worrying dropping the whole thing or sloshing half the sauce out onto my shoes. I have really weak, old lady wrists and having a feather lite pot makes a difference.
Poor Shack went to move it onto the back burner for me and grabbed the handles which were SMOKING hot and burned his hands so that is the only drawback to this stuff, for me. I would love it if it came with something like a silicone sleeve that would sort of clip on to the handles for stovetop cooking. It will take a while to drill it into my head that I MUST use tea towels to touch the handles when cooking with it because they get really, really hot even when you are cooking on the stove top.
For my braising pan's maiden voyage, I knew I was going to make my own version of this chicken and chorizo dish I saw on The Lazy Baker. I made quite a few changes to suit our tastes but this was the dish that inspired me and wouldn't leave me alone. I had to make Shack happy by adding mushrooms and I can't make anything this Spanish sounding without adding some smoked paprika. I wouldn't be able to sleep at night and trust me, I need my sleep.
I used the full 100g of chorizo the first time but we all found the flavour overpowering so I halved the amount in the recipe below. I also cannot abide wiggly, soggy chicken skin so I had to pop the meat under the broiler at the end to crisp it back up. I will say that this chicken, after braising for a full hour was sooooo delicious. It was moist and flavourful, just fell off the bone and I could eat it forever. Also, just like your cast iron enamel cookware, these things conduct heat really efficiently so you don't have to turn the heat up that high. When a recipe calls for med high, you only need to turn the knob to medium and until you get used to that, always keep an eye on your food and adjust the heat accordingly.
If it wasn't for my ridiculous no olive eating menfolk, I would have thrown in a handful of pitted, black olives too so if you are lucky enough to live with olive eaters, please do so and let me know how it works out for you.
Braised Lemony Chicken With Chorizo and Mushrooms
adapted from the lazy baker
6 chicken thighs, bone in and skin on
salt and pepper
approx 1 heaping cup of mushrooms, quartered
8-10 - cloves garlic, peeled (don't be scared, they mellow with the long braise)
approx 50g spanish chorizo, sliced
1 lemon, seeded and cut into 8 wedges
2 bay leaves
350 ml white wine
350 ml chicken stock
1 tbls smoked paprika
Heat a heavy braising pan over med-high heat and add a good glug of olive oil (you want to just coat the bottom). Salt and pepper your thighs and put them in the hot pan, skin side down. Fry them without moving around too much until browned and crisped up. Turn them at that point and cook them on the other side for a couple of minutes and then remove the chicken from the pan and set aside. If there is a ton of fat in the bottom of the pan, pour most of it out, leaving just enough to lightly coat the bottom of the pan.
Throw the mushrooms into the hot pan and saute the mushrooms for a few minutes until they just start to brown a bit. Add the chorizo, lemon and bay leaves and stir around for a few more minutes. Return the chicken to the pan, resting it on top of the mushrooms/chorizo/lemons. Mix the smoked paprika into the chicken stock and then pour it in along with the wine. Bring this to a boil and then lower the heat to med-low, cover and braise for about an hour. Keep checking to make sure the pan doesn't dry out. If the liquid level starts getting too low, add some more stock, wine or even a bit of water.
After an hour, remove the chicken and put the pieces on a foil lined baking tray. Preheat your broiler.
If you have to, turn the heat up a bit to make sure the sauce comes to a light boil. Let the sauce cook, uncovered, and reduce for another 20 minutes or so to thicken it up a bit. You will end up with a nice, silky pan sauce.
Meanwhile, just before the sauce is finished reducing, pop the chicken in the oven under the broiler, on the top rack, for about 4 or 5 minutes to crisp that skin up again.
Spoon a nice amount of saucy mushrooms, chorizo and some of the pan juices into a shallow bowl and then set two pieces of chicken on top for each serving.
I served it over rice but it would be nice with mashed potatoes too.