Sunday, November 20, 2011

Braise? What braise?

Hello readers!

Thanksgiving approaches, and I have the family coming into town. OK, I admit, that has nothing to do with this post, but I have a lot of Thanksgiving foods on my mind with the approaching holiday. This weekend I got my half of our CSA share, and man did we have a lot of root vegetables...
by root vegetables I mean turnips, we got a lot of turnips. A lot. With the holiday coming up, I am loathe to over-buy food right now. I know there will be lots of leftovers, and I'm excited to tell you all about our Thanksgiving plans (yes! my family is coming to NY!) but here I was on a Sunday evening, I had some brown rice I had cooked the night before, and I had a plethora of turnips.

I will admit, I do not have the most clear concept of what "braising" is, but I know it has to do with cooking things in liquid, and generally applies to ways to cook meat. slowly. I thought- "hey, they're turnips, i threw these in the slow cooker with some beef stew last week, they are probably best cooked slow!" So. How do I cook them faster? I had no idea, I decided to make something up. I put 2 and a half cups of water in a sauce pan, and added 1 (chicken) bouillon cube. I chopped into small dice whatever old vegetables I had in the fridge. This included about 8 cloves of garlic, 2 small leeks, a half a small onion, and i halved about 8 old cherry tomatoes. (I SAID I grabbed whatever old vegetables were in my fridge!). I put these into the simmering water + bouillon with a shake or two of crushed red pepper, and let it simmer (with a bay leaf!) while i cleaned, peeled, and large-diced the 3 large turnips.

Once I let this hodge podge of... whatever... simmer for a while, i strained it out from the "braising liquid" and then dumped all those turnips right in the liquid. Well readers, remember how I started with 2 and a half cups of water? Yeah, that wasn't enough to adequately cover the turnips, so I looked in my fridge, and miracle of miracles, there was a half a bottle of old white wine in there! ok, it wasn't exactly a "miracle" but it was in there, and I have to tell you, having old white wine in the fridge is like cooking liberation. Not enough liquid in that sauce? Old white wine! not enough liquid in that "i made it up braise"? Old white wine! It's my favorite go-to cooking liquid, and it might as well be yours. I added enough white wine to just bring the cooking liquid up to the turnips, and then I turned the heat up a bit (the wine was cold) and covered the pot.

So I had the turnips cooking in this combo chicken bouillon/veggie/white wine liquid. Yes, I am calling this braising. Is this braising? Can I get a call from the lie judges? And after about 10-15 minutes, once the turnips had started to soften, I added back in the veggies that I had strained out of the liquid. I don't know, it seemed like a good idea at the time. I added a little more white wine, and some salt (probably about 1/4 of a teaspoon), and kept it at a simmer. I also realized I had wanted some celery in there to start with, and as I had plenty of celery, and celery doesn't take too long to cook, i thin chopped 2 ribs of celery, and threw that in the pot as well.

At this point, I wanted it to thicken a little, so I just kept it on low heat with the pot cover off.
I put some of the brown rice I had made before in a bowl, and set it on the stove to warm a bit. After a few more minutes, I took a couple of spoonfuls of turnips and liquid, and spooned them over the brown rice. I let it sit for a bit before digging in, so that the liquid could soak into the rice, and when I did dig in? It was really good! It was a nice, hearty, almost stewy, vegetable melange!

I hope everyone is getting excited for Thanksgiving, I know I am! My family is not exactly the biggest fans of turkey, but we are going to do turkey, along with some other dishes, and I wll keep you guys posted. Our turkey tradition involves an olive oil-coated brown paper bag (with no printing on it). Is that weird? I don't know, how do you keep your turkey from drying out?

Yay food-centric holidays!

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