Braising is a form of slow cooking. It is to cook gently in a small amount of liquid in a covered pan at a braising temperature in the lower heat range.
Braising breaks down connective tissues in tough cuts of meat, leaving them tender, succulent and can be carved or pulled as you want.
Once you learn the basics of how to braise meat, you’ll be able to make braised beef brisket, short ribs, spare ribs — pretty much any braised meat recipe.
The best cuts of meat for braising are heavily exercised cuts, such as those from the shoulder, leg or rump of the animal, as well as ones that contain a lot of connective tissue, braise the likes of chuck, shank, brisket ,and oxtail.
Basic Braising Steps
Most braises follow the same basic steps.
- The meat or poultry is first browned in hot fat.
- Aromatic vegetables are sometimes then browned as well.
- A cooking liquid that often includes an acidic element, such as tomatoes or wine, is added to the pot, which is covered.
- The dish cooks in relatively low heat in an oven or atop the stove until the meat is fork-tender.
- Often the cooking liquid is finished to create a sauce or gravy.
Most braising recipes indicate the ideal braising temperature to be between 140°C (284°F) and 170°C (338°F).
I find that starting a braise at 110°C (230°F) and then raising the temperature to 130°C (266°F) after two hours is ideal.
These are also the temperatures we cook our slow cooked pullable roasts at in our smoker.
How To Do A Brown Braise
We’re doing a brown braise, which means the meat is seared and the vegies are browned before the liquid is added.
- Getting Started;
First, season your meat and get your pot nice and hot. Use a heavy-bottomed, deep pot, like a Dutch oven.
Add some oil.
- Sear the Meat;
Add the meat and brown or sear it. You want it to be deep dark brown on all sides. Then remove and set aside.
- Brown the Vegies;
Next, add the vegetables to the Dutch oven. You want to brown them up.
When the vegetables are nice and soft, deglaze the pan with wine. The acidity of the wine will balance the richness of the meat.
Be sure to scrape up all the flavourful brown bits on the bottom of the pan.
- Start Braising;
Add the meat back to the pot with the vegies.
- Add More Liquid;
Add stock or water halfway up the meat you’re braising and bring to a boil, then immediately lower to a simmer.
Once it’s simmering, you can add in aromatics.
Cover and keep it at a low simmer on the stovetop or in the oven at 170°C (338°F).
- Cook the Meat;
Cooking low and slow breaks down the tough meat so it’s tender and delicious.
Check on it occasionally. The liquid level needs to remain the same, so add more if necessary.
It will take about 1½ to 3 hours to become fork-tender.
As soon as it’s fork-tender, it’s done.
Cooking any longer will dry out the meat.
- Ready to Eat;
Go for it and enjoy.
A successful braise intermingles the flavours of the foods being cooked and the cooking liquid.
Also, the dissolved collagens and gelatins from the meat enrich and add body to the liquid.
- Braising is economical, as it allows the use of tough and inexpensive cuts
- Braising is also efficient, as it often employs a single pot to cook an entire meal.