What Does Braise Mean
The meaning of braise is to slow cook foods gently in a small amount of liquid.
This is done in a covered pan at a braising temperature in the lower heat range on top of a stove or in an oven.
Braising is a form of slow cooking and is closely related to stewing, although with less liquid and usually bigger pieces of food.
Braised dishes are often times better when prepared the day before, this waiting period allows the flavours to meld.
In addition, when these dishes are refridgerated, any fat forms on the surface allowing easier removal when reheating.
- 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.
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.
How Does Braising Work?
As it’s heated, the braising liquid releases steam.
The steam hits the underside of the pot lid, condenses and falls back onto the main ingredient, being your meat or poultry.
This creates a constant cycle that causes the flavours of the liquid and the meat to meld as it slow cooks, giving you an especially tender result by the end of cooking.
Why Braise Meat
Braising breaks down connective tissues in tough cuts of meat, leaving them tender, succulent and can be carved or pulled as you want.
The results of braising are comforting, healthy dishes that retain the nutrients of the ingredients and require no fat.
What Can You Braise
But in saying that, the best cuts of meat for braising are the heavily exercised cuts.
These would include 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.
What To Braise In
Large saucepans are ideal for braising, ideally one that can go from stove top to oven.
It should have a snug-fitting lid (although foil can also work) and high enough sides to hold the liquid.
The versatile Dutch oven is very popular and can be used on top of the stove or in the oven.
Can You Overcook A Braise
In a nutshell, yes you can overcook a braise and dry your meat out.
Just because it’s cooked using liquids and steam, doesn’t mean you can’t dry it out.
As to when the dish is done, tenderness is really what you should be looking for more than anything.
It is done when fork tender and pullable.
If the meat is on the bone, the meat should be starting to fall off.
Types Of Braising
There are two main different kinds of braising:
- Brown braising:
This is the most common method used these days.
The meat is seared on the outside until it is browned to give it colour and to help develop flavour.
It is then slow cooked in a dark liquid such as beef stock, red wine, tomato juice, etc.
- White braising:
In white braising the meat is blanched so that it doesn’t brown.
It is then cooked in a clear or light coloured liquid such as chicken or vegetable stock, white wine, orange juice or beer.
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.
Tips for a Flavourful Braise
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.
There are a few ways to infuse flavour into the dish, let’s take a look.
- Dry Brining Your Meat
Season the meat by Dry Curing before pan-searing.
For even more flavour, apply a simple dry rub.
For best results this should be done a few hours or up to a day in advance.
Place it uncovered in the fridge to really soak up the seasoning.
- Add Aromatics and Vegetables
Adding traditional aromatics and vegetables such as mushrooms. onions, potato, carrots, celery, and garlic will add sweetness and texture to the dish.
There is no reason why the likes of red or green capsicum, fennel, or chili peppers can’t be added.
- Herbs and Spices
Adding spices and herbs such as black peppercorns, red chilli flakes, and bay leaves can also add heat and earthiness.
Try also adding dried herbs, like bay leaves or oregano, or fresh herbs, like parsley or basil, to simmer in the braising liquid.
- Braising Liquid
There are many options for braising liquid such as white wine, red wine, meat or vegetable stocks, crushed tomatoes, orange juice, pomegranate juice, apple cider.
You could even use cola or lemonade as a braising liquid.
Remember that a braising liquid with higher sugar content will continue to reduce and caramelize.
You can also combine different options, such as a combination of red wine and beef broth.
Recipe For Old Fashioned Braised Steak and Onions
Recipe Review Rating: 5 ★★★★★
In this recipe for old fashioned braised steak and onions we’re doing a brown braise.
This means the meat is seared and the vegies are browned before the liquid is added.
This guide will teach you how to cook braised beef and getting perfect juicy tender results.
- 1kg blade or chuck steak
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 3 small brown onions
- 400 ml beef stock
- 200 ml red wine
- Getting Started;
Cut the beef into large chunks and set aside.
Thinly slice onions and set aside.
- Season the Meat;
Now season your meat on all sides 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 in small batches. You want it to be deep dark brown on all sides.
Then remove and set aside.
- Brown the Onions;
Next, add the onions to the Dutch oven.
You want to Saute and brown them up.
When the onions 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 onions.
- 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 any other aromatics if you like.
Cover and keep it at a low simmer on the stovetop or in the oven at 170°C (338°F).
- Cooking 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, serve over a bed of mashed potatoes and enjoy.
How To Braise Meat Like A Pro
Watch and learn how to braise your way to fall-off-the-bone meat with these basic tips from Food Network.