Braising isn’t just for meat. The gentle cooking method — which calls for a small amount of liquid, low heat and a covered pot — can be used for a variety of vegetables, as well. You can also reduce the flavorful cooking liquid and use it as an accompanying sauce.
1 3/4 to 2 pounds leeks, celery or fennel, or other vegetable suitable for braising
1 to 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
1/4 cup finely diced yellow onion
1/4 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
1 1/2 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1/8 tsp. freshly ground pepper (optional)
1 to 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice (optional)
|Heat the butter in the pan
Trim the vegetables and cut them into equal-sized pieces so that they will cook evenly. Place a straight-sided frying pan with a lid over medium-high heat and add 1 tablespoon of the butter.
|Cook the onions
When the butter has melted and the foam begins to subside, add the onion and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the wine and cook until the wine has reduced by about half, 1 to 2 minutes.
|Braise the vegetables
Cover the pan and let the vegetables braise in the enclosed cooking environment until tender, about 25 minutes for leeks, 15 minutes for celery or 20 minutes for fennel.
Braised Celery with Lemon
- In a saute pan over medium-high heat, combine 1 1/2 cups chicken stock, 1/4 cup minced onion, 1 sprig fresh thyme and one 2-inch strip lemon zest. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until reduced by half, about 5 minutes.
- Add 1 bunch celery, cut into 4-inch lengths (reserve the leaves); 1 tablespoon unsalted butter; and salt to taste. Cover and simmer until the celery is tender when pierced with the tip of a paring knife, about 15 minutes. Transfer the celery to a warmed platter.
- Add 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 2 teaspoons butter, the reserved chopped celery leaves and a pinch of pepper to the cooking liquid. Raise the heat to high and boil for 1 minute. Pour over the celery.
Braised Endive with Cream
- In a saute pan over medium-high heat, melt 3 tablespoons unsalted butter. Add 6 halved heads Belgian endive to the pan, cut side down. Cook until lightly golden, 4 to 5 minutes.
- Gently turn over the endive and add 1/3 cup chicken stock, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer until the endive is tender, about 20 minutes.
- Uncover and add 2/3 cup heavy cream, 2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon and 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Raise the heat to medium and cook until the cream has reduced to a thick sauce.