This is a combination cooking method (dry heat with fat, then moist heat) that is most appropriate for cooking tougher cuts of meat. Braising begins by searing the seasoned and flour-dusted meat (in a Dutch Oven or similar pot) with hot fat until well-browned on all sides (aka browning). Then a flavorful liquid is added, typically enough to reach halfway up the primary item. Many additional ingredients and aromatics can be added as well. The liquid is brought up to a simmer, the pot is covered and placed in a medium-hot oven and allowed to cook until the meat is tender. The cooking can also be completed on the stove top as long as the heat is regulated properly but the oven is a safer way to go. Once finished, the meat is sliced for service and the flavorful braising liquid is thickened or otherwise finished for use as a sauce. This technique generally requires a longer cooking time because it has historically been used for tough meats and poultry. And it's important to point out that cooking with a tough cut is not a bad thing as long as you use an appropriate method. It is an undisputed culinary fact that tough meats make the most flavorful meals, and the braising technique also makes them meltingly tender! But in truth, braising can be successfully applied to tender foods as well, including fish and vegetables, as long as the cooking time is shortened appropriately. Varieties of cabbage, Brussels sprouts and many bitter greens are absolutely delicious when braised, as are pork chops and bone-in chicken.
Popular braised dishes include pot roast, coq au vin, short ribs and braised pork belly. It might also be helpful to know that proper stew technique is a close variation of the braising method.
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