From spare ribs to salmon, braising combines a range of culinary tools to show off the natural qualities of an ingredient.
Showcasing a great cut of meat can be challenging, especially if you’re working with a tough variety like beef shank or brisket. The classic technique of braising aims to lock in the flavor of an ingredient while cooking it slowly enough to achieve ultimate tenderness.
Braising typically begins with a cut of meat such as beef, pork, lamb, or chicken, but the method can also be used for seafood and some heartier vegetables. On a basic level, the seasoned meat is seared at medium heat in a large pan or dutch oven and then simmered at a low temperature with the deglazing liquid and a mix of vegetables or aromatics.
The low and slow cooking time allows the meat to fall right off the bone without losing its flavor or moisture during the long cooking process. Even less expensive cuts like pork chops, chicken thighs, and beef chuck benefit from braising. The process allows any thick connective tissue to break down, making even the toughest cuts great candidates for this process.
Step-by-Step Tips for Braising
While there are many varieties to properly braise—from the deglazing liquid to presentation—here are the basic steps for braising a cut of meat.
- Heat a fat such as oil or butter in a dutch oven on high.
- Season each side of your meat and add it to the fat, making sure not to crowd the pan.
- Sear the meat on each side until it achieves a deep golden-brown exterior. Remove from the pan and set aside.
- Add aromatics, mirepoix, or root vegetables to your pan and pour in a deglazing liquid. Popular choices include broth, wine, or soy sauce. Scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to combine the liquid and remaining meat and fat.
- Return the meat to the pan, cover, and cook either on the stove at low heat or in the oven at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for an hour (or more, depending on the cut of meat).
- When the meat pulls apart effortlessly with a fork, it is ready to serve.
Above all, braising allows club chefs to hone the natural flavors of a cut of meat or earthy vegetable while showcasing a wide range of flavor profiles.