The colder it gets, the more braising makes sense. Long, slow simmering over low heat—either on the stove-top or in the oven—is the best way to turn hearty cuts of meat into rich, bold, and warm-you-to-the-bone dishes that are exactly what we crave this season. In fact, some of France’s best dishes are braises—from coq au vin and pot-au-feu, to boeuf bourguignon.
Pan-Roasted Chicken with Mushrooms. Perfect recipe for a Lodge Covered Casserole.
If you love braising as much as I do, you’re in luck! I’ve teamed up with the Lodge company—makers of great cast-iron cookware since 1896—to offer this great giveaway: The Lodge Color Enameled Cast Iron Covered Casserole. That’s this lovely pan, right here:
If this looks like a braising pan, you’d be correct. Even though the company calls it a “Covered Casserole,” it’s what I’d call a braiser.
Here’s what makes this pan especially fabulous for braising:
• Notice how it’s shorter than a Dutch oven? The limited height lets the steam remain in close contact with the meat, and therein lies the brilliance: You see, it’s that steamy, moist heat that makes braised meats get so tender, rich, and bold.
Lodge’s 3-Quart Enamel-Covered Cast Iron Casserole, in red.
• Notice how the base is wider than a Dutch oven: More brilliance! The braising liquid (such as stock, broth, wine, or juices) spreads out and surrounds the meat, rather than covering it. Moist heat—not the liquid itself—is the key to a great braise!
• Notice the tight-fitting lid? Again, brilliance. You need to keep the moist heat from escaping the pan during cooking.
There are many other things I love about enamel cast-iron cooking in general, including:
• Cast iron absorbs, conducts, and retains heat well and distributes heat evenly.
• Enamel cast iron doesn’t react with (cause an off-flavor from) acidic ingredients, like tomatoes and lemon juice. Hey! You can even marinate foods in this thing.
• Enamel cast iron is beautiful! Who can resist all the depth of color? In addition to the blue braiser, above, Lodge also carries a red braiser (at left).
If you follow my blog at all, you know that I spent the better part of my kitchen time last autumn testing all of the major braisers in the market. I tested the Lodge Braiser, and I found it to be a great less-expensive alternative to braisers from France, such as Le Creuset and Staub. I’ve also noted that the reviews on Amazon are quite high, too.
So, what do you have to do to win one of these beauties? Simply leave me a note on my facebook page, telling me which of the recipes shown there that you’d be most likely to cook first if you won the braiser.I’d love it if you’d also “like” my Facebook page, but that’s not required.
Here’s the Facebook post. Simply tell me what you’d make first in your new braiser, if you’re the winner!
The not-so-fine print:
• US mailing addresses only. No PO boxes.
• Giveaway ends January 25th at midnight, Central Standard Time
• Red or blue? It’s up to you! You get to choose the braiser color you like best.
PS: All of the recipes shown on this Facebook post are from my Braiser Cookbook. (You see, I adore braising pans so much,that I wrote an e-book filled with recipes that call on these beauties).
While you’re at it, if you love cast-iron cooking, you should also check out the Lodge Cast Iron Cooking facebook page: They’re constantly finding some of the most enticing recipes around the web for braising pots, Dutch ovens, skillets, and other great pans.
Please note: The Lodge company gave me a braiser for testing purposes, and they are also providing the braiser for this giveaway. All opinions are my own, and I have not been compensated for this giveaway in any other way. Also, any purchases you make through the links provided to Amazon on my website will help support Chez Bonne Femme. Thank you for your consideration.
This is it—that easy recipe for Hamburger Pie that so many of us grew up with. Yes, it uses canned soup, but don’t turn your nose up too soon….no, it’s not gourmet, but it’s a wonderfully hearty and comforting recipe that will taste good right now in this coldest of months. PS: kids love it.
Hamburger Pie, straight from the 1953 edition of the Red Plaid Cookbook. And can I just say that I’ve spent much of my food-writing career writing cookbook copy like those words above, and yet, I don’t think I ever came up with something as wonderful as, “Park dinner in the oven”! Brilliant.
I’ve often remarked that French home cooks use convenience products–from pasta sauces to premade pastry crusts. But one thing I have never seen ever, in all my time in La Belle France, is a recipe that calls for condensed soup. So no, this recipe isn’t French. But lately, I felt compelled to make it, and I’m glad I did.
The recipe springs from the 1953 edition of The Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book–known around BH&G offices as “The Red Plaid.” The recipe has been reprinted in many subsequent editions of the book, including two of the three editions I worked on in the past 15 or so years.
Hamburger Pie is basically an American version of Britain’s Shepherd’s Pie–the classic dish of a chopped meat filling (often lamb, sometimes beef, leftover from the Sunday roast) and gravy, topped with mashed potatoes and baked.
How is Hamburger Pie different than Shepherd’s Pie? For Hamburger Pie, the meat is simply ground beef (not minced roast, as in Shepherd’s pie); instead of gravy, a can of soup is used, and the cook adds veggies to the filling.
It’s an all-time favorite that’s morphed a bit over the years. In my mother’s 1950s edition, Hamburger Pie calls for canned green beans; the whipped potatoes on top get enriched with an egg. However, the recipe in my most recent edition of the Red Plaid cookbook calls for frozen green beans (much, much better than canned!); as for the potatoes, gone is the egg, and in its place a sprinkling of American cheese. Thus completes the dish’s transformation from English standby to American favorite.
I messed with the recipe just a wee bit: Frankly, I love frozen mixed vegetables–they just add color and variety to the dish. And I definitely use Cheddar instead of American (though your kids might prefer American). Frankly, you could use any semi-firm cheese you wanted, as long as it shreds easily and melts well (Swiss, Comté, Fontina, Monterey Jack, etc.). I also added just a touch of water to the filling to keep it moist while baking.
I make no apologies for cooking with condensed soup; sometimes, it feels right. May this recipe offer you warmth and comfort to you and your family–as it did for me and mine, last night.
Adapted from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, 14th edition.
1¼ pounds baking potatoes (russet or Yukon gold), peeled and quartered
1¼ pounds lean ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
2½ cups frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
1 10.75-ounce can condensed tomato soup
½ cup water
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter
¼ cup milk (or more as needed)
¾ cup shredded Cheddar cheese (about 3 ounces)
Cook potatoes in enough boiling salted water to cover for 20 to 25 minutes or until tender.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet cook meat and onion until meat is brown and onion is tender. Drain fat. Stir in the mixed vegetables, tomato soup, the water, and salt and pepper to taste. Pour into a greased 2-quart baking dish or casserole. Set aside.
When potatoes are tender, drain, then mash with an electric mixer on low speed; add the butter and milk, beating until light and fluffy (add a couple more tablespoons of milk if necessary). Season to taste with salt and pepper
Drop the mashed potatoes in six equal mounds on beef mixture. Sprinkle cheese over the potatoes. Bake, uncovered, in a 350°F oven about 30 minutes or until mixture is bubbly and cheese begins to brown.
PS: One thing that vaguely ties this recipe to French cooking is that the French indeed make a version of Shepherd’s Pie, though it’s called Parmentier, named after a Mr. Permentier who introduced the potato to France.
Beef Pot Roast—Great for the Staub, Le Creuset, All-Clad, or Lodge Braiser.
This time of year, I always get lots of hits on this blog from people asking, “What do I cook in a braiser?” Might I suggest inaugurating your braiser with a wonderful pot roast? Cooking shoulder cuts of meat in a small amount of liquid in a tightly covered pot over low heat is what a braiser is for! My 7-Bone Pot Roast with Coriander and Cardamom is one my all-time favorite recipes for a braiser. It’s warmly spicy (not hit-you-over-the head spicy), super tender, and simply luscious. Enjoy.