Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Braisin' Asian: The Line Up

Braising is one of my favorite techniques.  And it didn't always used to be.  In fact, I spent a great portion of my life not really knowing what it was...and if a recipe I was using called for doing it, I was more likely to change 'braise' to 'roast'.

And up until a couple of years ago, I was able to get away with it, because I didn't know what I was missing out on.  In the end, I surmised, I got a cooked, edible piece of meat...end game achieved. 

I was a fool back then, folks.  A plain and simple-minded fool.

It has occurred to me, though, that doing things in the slow-cooker is sort of a form of braising.  You take a foodstuff and cook it at low heat for a few hours, letting it stew in its own yummy juices.  Yeah, braising is a lot like that.  Maybe I was more familiar with the technique than I thought...

For these shredded chicken sandwiches, I turned to the condiments in my fridge (high Chinese influence).

From right to left I've presented them in the proportion I've used them, although a word of caution...lime juice and oil (sesame if you've got it, really) should make up the largest percentage of the marinade.  The rice wine vinegar really should be just before the soy sauce.

Three chicken breasts, 1/4 cup of oil and lime juice, each.  A good couple of splashes of vinegar, followed by smaller splashes of soy and fish sauce.  A generous squeeze of cilantro (freshly chopped would be best, but use what you got, people) with a squirt of sriracha.  The two powders (five spice and cayenne) are sprinkled on the breasts before I poured the marinade over. 

Here's what I just realized is missing.  Two cloves of minced garlic and two generous tablespoons of sugar (to balance out the acidity).  Whisk together and pour over three chicken breasts in a shallow glass baking dish.  Cover with foil and pop into a 250 oven for about four or five hours.

Yes, yes, this could all be done in your crockpot.  I, however, have ginormous crockpots, and making sandwich meat for four people does not require that much space.  So, my oven it is.  There's not much of a risk of burning, if you make sure at least the bottom of the dish is covered with liquid.  Also, the foil covering will help prevent evaporation and keep the juices in the dish.  Where they belong!

After about three hours, remove the dish, uncover the chicken, and use two forks to shred the meat.  Of course, taste the meat and season as needed!  Pop it back into the oven for another little while...how ever long you can bear to wait, I guess.

This would be good with some rice, but I'm going the sandwich route today.  Shredded carrots, fresh cilantro leaves if I had them, red onion slivers on a toasted, split, hoagie bun.  I added an egg to my daughter's and my sandwich, because why the heck not!?

And derned if I didn't almost forget to get the final product.  Again, it's worth noting...food stylist and professional photographer, I am not.

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