What is braising?
Braising is a “wet heat” technique used when cooking meat, fish or vegetables for long periods of time without drying out. The purpose of this lengthy cooking process is to break down connective tissue and create that melt-in-your-mouth texture we’re all after.
Things to remember:
Whether you’re cooking in a dutch oven or in a crock pot, braising produces incredible flavor and texture across all proteins. With a few key techniques you can achieve perfectly tender meat and wildly delicious meals all in just one pot.
- Ensure you have a proper braising pot size. Too much space can cause you to use an excessive amount of liquid, while too little may simply not be enough space.
- Brown your meat in your pot over high heat. This will set off the Maillard reaction, the chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars that not only give that rich, brown crust, but also produce exceptional flavor.
- Transfer meat to plate before browning your veggies. Believe it or not you can overcook your meat at this stage. Also, dont’t be shy with the heat, vegetables have some natural sugars you want to caramalize and bring even more brown flavor to your braise.”
- Deglaze the pot with a little stock or other flavorful liquid (beer, anyone?) and give it a quick scrape. Use as little and as flavorful liquid as you can. Add more liquid to barely cover and bring to a simmer.
- Tightly cover your braising pot and place in a 275°-300° preheated oven.
- Braising is a slower cooking process. Leave up to 3 hours for a dish like Coq au Vin, and several more if cooking larger cuts of beef, pork or lamb.
- Meat can be braised ahead of time, cooled in its own liquid and saved for a week’s worth of lunch or dinner.
The final tip: don’t be intimidated by braising. Let heat, time and fat work their magic, and improvise if need be. In the winter, nothing beats a braised short rib or lamb shank. It’s worth the time!
Find a great braised short rib recipe here.