From Publishers Weekly
Cuisines as diverse as Vietnamese, Moroccan, Italian, British and American all use braising; the technique can be a means to cook everything from vegetables to pork belly. Stevens, a Fine Cooking
contributing editor, says that braising is simply "tucking a few ingredients into a heavy pot with a bit of liquid, covering the pot tightly and letting everything simmer peacefully until tender and intensely flavored." With the help of appetite-inducing photos of Vietnamese Braised Scallops, and Braised Endive with Prosciutto, Stevens illustrates just how exciting a braise can be. "Braising," she clarifies, "is a building process. The cook adds layer upon layer of flavor, nuance, and character to a dish at each stage." Although braising is a relatively simple cooking method, Stevens takes her time explaining it, drawing on food science to explain not just how, but why (for example, "Give food plenty of space," because "If the pan is too crowded... the released moisture can't escape and will cause the meat to steam, not brown"). Aside from Stevens's sometimes superfluous prose and ho-hum anecdotes, the book contains interesting tasting notes and cultural information, and Stevens's lengthy instructions will be particularly valuable to beginners. Photos, line drawings.
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A great book, one that everyone who's interested in cooking should take time to read, and more important, to use. Although I've been working in professional kitchens for nearly twenty-five years, the book brought me a whole range of new insights into how to use braising more effectively. Molly does an excellent job of taking complex kitchen science and translating it into technique that's both understandable and usable by everyone from home cooks to restaurant professionals. --Ari Weinzweig, founding partner, Zingerman's Community of Businesses, and author of Zingerman's Guide to Good Eating"