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Sep 30, 2006 03:56 AM

All About Braising: Vegetable Recipe Reviews

October 2006 Cookbook of the Month: Please post your full-length reviews of vegetable recipes from Molly Stevens' All About Braising here. Please mention the name of the recipe you are reviewing as well as any modifications you made to the recipe. If this is a recipe you've done many times before but aren't cooking currently, consider adding a note to the All About Braising: Previous Picks and Pans thread:

A reminder that the verbatim copying of recipes to the boards is a violation of the copyright of the original author. Posts with copied recipes will be removed.

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  1. Escarole braised with cannellini beans--this is definitely one of those dishes you have to plan ahead of time--soaking the beans for 8-10 hours, then simmering for 1-1.5 hours before the official braising even begins, but ultimately very easy. I do not have a lot of experience with dried beans, and have had sometimes gross mealy results, but I followed the directions faithfully, and ended up with lovely creamy beans, a nice contrast to the slight bitterness of the escarole.

    Here's the paraphrased recipe. It's so simple that I'm paraphrasing from memory:

    Basically, soak and then simmer 1 cup beans in 1 cup stock (more water if necessary to cover the beans) with a small quartered carrot, small quartered onion, bay leaf, 1T. olive oil, and 2 smashed garlic cloves. After simmering, salt and pepper to taste. Wash and trim escarole, cup in 1.5 in strips. Heat olive oil, 3 thinly sliced garlic cloves, pinch of dried chili flakes, and then wilt escarole one handful at a time. When escarole is wilted (and salted and peppered), add beans and simmering liquid, cover and simmer on low for 20 minutes. Squeeze half a lemon on it before serving, and drizzle with some olive oil.

    I wish I had made a roast as she recommends, but it was just me eating tonight, so I had some quick puttanesca pasta instead and ate the escarole/beans as an appetizer. Good thing I liked it--I have a lot left!

    7 Replies
    1. re: AppleSister

      I made this last night and would absolutely make it again. I did make one big change as I used chard instead of escarole as that was what I had. To make it possible for a weeknight I soaked and boiled the beans the day before, let cool and refrigerated them, Molly says the beans can be held this way up to two days.

      As AppleSister noted the beans get fabulously creamy, we served with grilled chicken and apple sausages for a simple weeknight meal. I agree it would be great with a roast.

      If we had any leftovers it would also make a nice lunch.

      1. re: llinza

        I routinely make this with Belgian endives (and canned beans) - it's not as colorful as a greener green, but the flavors work very well, and I prefer the texture to that of escarole.

      2. re: AppleSister

        I made this last night and it was great. I had a head of escarole but I think it was smaller than called for. Instead of cannellini beans, I subbed in one 15 oz can of garbanzo beans. I also threw in more than a pinch of red pepper flakes. This was delicious and the two of us ate the entire dish.

        1. re: AppleSister

          Escarole Braised with Cannellini Beans, Pg. 55

          We made this dish last night and loved it. Made the canned bean variation and added a few bumps of my own. First we rendered about 6 slices of home made cured bacon (from the farm) which I sliced into 1/2 " pieces. Removed the bacon from the skillet and added 1 diced red onion and 2 finely diced carrots. Next came the chopped garlic. We then proceeded with the recipe as Applesister reported but when the escarole was nearly done we added about 1 1/2 cups of left over steamed brown rice, the rendered bacon, and more broth and let that mix and heat up. A drizzle of Cocevola Terre Di Bari Extra Virgin Olive Oil on the plates finished off the dish. I think a sprinkle of freshly grated Parmigiano or the robust Romano would be a nice touch. Next time. There's not a drop left. Darn it.

          1. re: Gio

            That sounds like a perfect autumn meal, esp with the brown rice addition. Brown rice's healthiness cancels out bacon's unhealthiness, IMO

        2. End of Summer Green Beans Braised with Tomatoes (p. 43)

          This is a very simple braise flavored with garlic, anchovies, and dried oregano. Sliced garlic is sauteed until golden in olive oil. Add minced anchovies and dried oregano, stir until anchovies melt into the oil, add beans and chopped fresh tomatoes, salt and pepper. Add water (I used chicken stock), cover and braise for about an hour. Very good. I liked the subtle flavor of the oregano and anchovies, though my husband said he preferred the green beans I made last month from "Essentials" (Hazan).


          3 Replies
          1. re: Rubee

            I really liked this last night and really enjoyed it. I used fresh oregano and home grown tomatoes. I probably had more than the 1.5 cups than the recipe called for but it worked out fine. Also, mine did come out very saucy at the end so I boiled away the extra liquid. I also loved the subtle flavor of the anchovies and oregeno with the beans.


            I served this with the chengdu braised pork with daikon radish. They didn't really go together but I wanted to make both. It just meant not mixing the food up, which was ok.

            1. re: Rubee

              I just made this yesterday, even though I really like crisp, bright green beans, and was a little disappointed at first, but then couldn't stop eating them.

              1. re: Rubee

                I have made this several time and I love it. It reheats really well, so when I have a lot of fresh vegetables to eat, I make this and eat it on another day. I also often use extra tomatoes just because I love tomatoes.

              2. Peppery Braised Broccoli Rabe with Arugula (p. 51)

                I loved this recipe. Easy, quick and absolutely delicious.

                Stir fry the rabe (about a lb) for a few minutes. Add onion (half a medium one), garlic, (3 cloves slivered) red pepper flakes (generous pinch, probably about 1t) and salt. Add chicken stock (1/2 cup) and simmer for about 20 minutes (with the lid on). When the stalks are tender, add the arugula (4-5 oz) and simmer for about 20 minutes until the liquid has evaporated.

                I followed the recipe pretty closely. I probably added more hot pepper flakes and more arugula than was stated in the book since I prefer my dishes with extra bite.

                Picture of veggies in the pot:


                I made this ahead of time so I ate it lukewarm. It was still delicious. I served this with braised chicken thighs with soy sauce and white rice.


                This is the first time I've posted pictures, so I hope it works.

                3 Replies
                1. re: beetlebug

                  Yum - That meal looks delicious!

                  1. re: beetlebug

                    I made this last night, it was a good quick weeknight side. The only issue I had was that the broccoli rabe ended up being overcooked - I think I had the heat turned up a tad to high, next time I will watch that very closely.

                    I used baby the arugula and doubled the amount. Since the arugula was so tender I added it at the very end and tossed just enough to wilt slightly but keep its brilliant green.

                    This was a nice side for skirt steak but I think it would compliment almost anything.

                    1. re: beetlebug

                      Oh yum. The greens in the pot...the whole thing...

                    2. Cauliflower, Potatoes & Peas Indian-Style

                      Thank you redwood2bay. The Cookbook of the Month idea has encouraged me to make recipes I’ve always wanted to try but never got around to and to try recipes I probably would not have without the impetus of these threads.

                      Tonight I wanted a fairly simple vegetarian dinner but had the time both to shop and prepare. I followed the recipe as written, although I probably added more peas than called for. I also used a Serrano chile with all the seeds. I like spicy, but this wasn’t by any means overpoweringly so.

                      It was terrific. There was no sauce; you cook it away, as she says in the recipe. But it was wonderfully flavorful and very satisfying. I served it over basmati rice as suggested. The recipe worked exactly as written. I wouldn’t change a thing.

                      Although a wonderful meal all by itself, I’m sure it would be a great accompaniment to a simply roasted chicken or grilled chicken breasts. Very definitely something I’d do again.



                      7 Replies
                      1. re: JoanN

                        Wow - does that look good. I'll have to make that this month!

                        1. re: JoanN

                          That looks really yummy! JoanN, I think you're inspiring several of us to try this dish (I'd already marked it as a possible-- now I think it'll be a probable). Thanks for posting your review and photo.

                          1. re: JoanN

                            I just made this dish tonight, and I'm curious to know what others thought of the use of whole coriander and cumin seeds. I have to say this is the first thing I've made from ABB that was not absolutely satisfactory. The whole seeds were just too intense when they got crunched between my teeth, and the flavor just wasn't as complex as a similar recipe I've used from Madhur Jaffrey, though with more spices and the usual onion-garlic-ginger paste.

                            1. re: AppleSister

                              I can't speak to this recipe, but I really love whole cumin seeds in a dish. A lot.

                              1. re: AppleSister

                                I wasn't even aware of the seeds as a separate entity. Guess I just like coriander and cumin.

                                1. re: JoanN

                                  Whole spices are often used in indian recipes. I put whole cumin seeds in all kinds of to toast them a bit first, but in any case, they are not too tough or fibrous to be pleasant to eat, and you get such a nice punch of cumin flavor when you bite into them.

                                  1. re: prunefeet

                                    I actually liked the whole cumin seeds, it was the whole coriander seeds that were a bit much. I guess I could always grind them myself next time.

                            2. Braised Potatoes with Butter and Rosemary (p. 40)

                              This is the first recipe in the book. This simple method packs so much flavor into the potatoes - definitely will make these again. Small potatoes are put into a saute pan with enough stock to come half-way up the sides. Add butter, rosemary sprigs, and smashed garlic cloves. Cover and braise for about 20 minutes. Remove lid and boil liquid away. The homemade chicken stock really contributes to the caramelized buttery glaze left on the potatoes. Delicious! Easy too.


                              9 Replies
                              1. re: Rubee

                                I also made this and loved it. I used olive oil and rosemary. My potatoes were a little bigger so I halved them. It was harder to find a pot that accomodated them so a couple of the potatoes rested on top. The coolest thing was when you boiled the liquid away, the oil really does crisp up the potatoes. Sooooo good. And so good for you ;-)

                                Pictures of potato in pot (The pot is a disaster. It's still soaking)


                                Picture of meal (served with pork with hot cherry peppers



                                1. re: beetlebug

                                  I made the braised potatoes w/ garlic and bay leaves, and as already stated, they were delicious and easy. I like how braising cooks them more quickly than roasting, and how they were nicely creamy w/ some light caramelization once the liquid was reduced. I opted for water instead of stock and found them plenty flavorful; don't think they really need stock. I did notice that some good bits of flavor got stuck on the bottom of the pan, which I was happy to scrape up and nibble on after the meal.

                                  1. re: Carb Lover

                                    Yeah - I made these Sunday and I found most of the glaze stayed in the pan. The potatoes that did have glaze were tasty. But I didn't love these. I actually really like plain boiled "new" potatoes and these did not convince me not to stick with plain in the future. But I'll probably try them again because they were very easy.

                                    1. re: Carb Lover

                                      I made these tonight with halved red potatoes, and although the flavour was really good, they broke up a lot in the pan which was disappointing. I think I may have added too much liquid, and next time I would buy smaller potatoes and leave them whole, which would hopefully solve the problem. They were really infused with the flavour of the garlic and bay though.

                                  2. re: Rubee

                                    Braised Potatoes with Garlic & Bay Leaves, p. 40

                                    I made these with large French fingerlings that I cut into chunks, which worked fine (i.e., they didn't break apart). I added too much stock, though, so when the potatoes were tender and I took the cover off, I decided it would take too long to evaporate the extra liquid, not to mention being a waste of such nice stock. So I poured most of it off, but that also means I poured off some of the oil. The result was that I didn't really get much frying action, though I still got a great glaze that stuck to the potatoes, very tasty. (Plus I had a bonus bit of stock left for the next day's cooking.)

                                    1. re: Karen_Schaffer

                                      I have made a recipe from Fine Cooking for skillet roasted potatoes which I think is like the AAB recipe for Braised Potatoes. It is great. The stock absorbs into the potatoes and they are very flavorful and creamy almost, with a nice crusty outside. Sometimes I like to make a big batch of these to have leftovers for the week. Very good.

                                      1. re: karykat

                                        This is the method used for Pommes de Terre à l'Echirlète in Elizabeth David's French Country Cooking - she says it's used in the Perigord. It's a delicious way to cook potatoes. Here's my report from that COTM:

                                        1. re: Caitlin McGrath

                                          The Fine Cooking article mentions that a traditional version of its recipe says to peel the potatoes into ovals. Which FC doesn't to save time and for texture. Kind of interesting.

                                          1. re: karykat

                                            I used Yukon golds about 1 1/2 inches in diameter and just left them whole and unpeeled. They were delicious cooked in the stock and then crisped up.