5 Fast Braises


1. Braised Cabbage with Spanish Chorizo and Beans

You can use linguica or kielbasa in place of chorizo, and any greens you like. Slice smoked chorizo into quarter-inch-thick pieces, then cook in olive oil until it begins to crisp. Slice a head of green cabbage into eight wedges and put it on top of the chorizo; add a couple of cups of cooked or drained canned cannellini or other white beans, spreading to surround the cabbage; cover and cook for a few minutes, then flip the cabbage and stir the beans. Continue cooking until everything is warmed through, season with salt and pepper, and serve topped with toasted breadcrumbs or croutons and a drizzle of olive oil.

2. Ketchup-Braised Tofu with Veggies

Press extra-firm tofu between layers of paper towels for a few minutes, or longer if you have time; cut into one-inch squares. Heat a few tablespoons of vegetable oil in a skillet and sear the tofu until golden and crisp, turning once or twice. Add about one-quarter cup of ketchup, a dash of rice vinegar, a few drops of sesame oil, and enough water to make a little sauce. Stir in a thinly sliced carrot, a couple of handfuls of green beans, and a pinch of red chile flakes. Cover the skillet and reduce the heat; braise for about four minutes or until the vegetables are just tender. At the last minute, toss in a handful of bean sprouts or shredded cabbage, give a good stir, and serve, with soy sauce on the side.

3. Citrus-Braised Fish Fillets or Steaks

Try orange juice, lime juice, or any other combination of citrus juices here. Sear sturdy fish fillets or steaks for about two minutes on each side in a little oil, until nicely browned. Add a quarter cup each of grapefruit juice and lemon juice, a tablespoon or two of soy sauce, some minced garlic, and about a teaspoon of freshly grated ginger. Cover and braise for about six minutes, or until the fish is cooked through. Serve over shredded red cabbage and sliced radishes.

4. Braised Chicken with Olives and Raisins

In a food processor, combine about a quarter cup of olive oil, a tablespoon of chopped fresh oregano, a handful of raisins, a handful of pitted green olives, a quarter cup of dry white wine, and a pinch or two of salt; pulse a couple of times—you want large pieces, not a paste. Sear chicken cutlets in a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, about two minutes on each side. Lower the heat, add the olive-raisin sauce, then cover and cook until the chicken is cooked through. Garnish with chopped parsley or toasted pine nuts.

5. Braised Pork with Rosemary

Rub boneless pork steaks or pork chops with olive oil, a clove or two of minced garlic, a tablespoon of fresh rosemary, and some salt and pepper. Sear in butter or oil until just brown on both sides; remove and deglaze the pan with a cup or so of dry white wine over high heat, being sure to scrape up all the brown bits left from the pork. Return the chops to the pan, along with any juices, reduce the heat, and cover. Continue cooking until the chops are barely pink inside, just a couple of minutes. Remove from the pan, turn up the heat, and reduce the liquid to a syrup; add a tablespoon or two of butter to thicken the sauce and adjust the seasonings. Serve the chops topped with the sauce and garnished with a little more rosemary.