Refers to the process of browning meat before cooking it in small amounts of liquid slowly for a long period of time. Braising helps to tenderize tough meats such as brisket and bottom rounds.
Before braising, the meat or vegetables should be browned in order to seal the juices inside. Once browned, pour off the excess fat and add boiling liquid. The liquid should just cover the meat or vegetables if making a stew, or come halfway up if simply braising to tenderize. Once the liquid is boiling, cover and reduce to a simmer. At this point, you can transfer the pot to the oven and continue cooking slowing until done.
- A dutch oven, such as Le Creuset, works beautifully for this kind of cooking. You can brown the meat or vegetables directly in the pot, then transfer the pot to the oven.
- Before browning food, make sure that it is room temperature and completely dry. You can also coat lightly with flour before browning to ensure dryness.
- For wonderful flavor, use the fat directly from the meat to brown in. It adds more flavor than butter or oil!
- Never crowd too much into the pan. This lowers the temperature of the pan and creates steam, which prevents the food from browning nicely.
- If you add vegetables to the meat, do so halfway through browning, so the flavors meld with the meat before you add the liquid. This is especially good when preparing meat for a stew.
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