Braising is a traditional slow cooking method for beef pork and chicken that produced tender dishes with a rich full flavor. The meat is fried over high heat then cooked in moist heat inside a Dutch over or heavy pot with a lid.
The meat is partially submerged in an aromatic liquid to which is added vegetables herbs and spices. The meat is cooked slowly, often for several hours, and is imparted with all the flavors in the pot. Braising draws out all the flavors in the meat and the cooked meat is tender and juicy provided it is not over-cooked or cooked to quickly.
This article provide tips and a comprehensive guide for braising various types of meat such as beef, lamb, game meats, pork and chicken.
There are also a fabulous set of wonderful well-proven recipes for braising meat.
Pat the raw meat dry using paper towels. This helps the meat surface to brown quickly when fried. Place the meat on a piece of baking paper to which salt and freshly ground pepper has been added. Roll and push the salt and pepper into the meat so it will adhere when the meat is being seared or fried.
Heat a Dutch oven or pot over high heat and add one or two tablespoons of rice bran or grape seed oil. These oils have a very high smoke point. Other similar oils can be substituted. Sear the meat well on all sides. Use tongs to hold the meat to ensure all surfaces are well browned. Aim for a dark and crusty sear. This seals the meat and generates a lot of traditional flavor for the braised meat dish. Use a high temperature to ensure the outer layer is well seared on all surfaces.
Remove the seared meat and set aside. Add the crushed or bruised spices, onions, garlic and other aromatics to the hot pan and fry to release the flavors.
Lower the heat and add some hot liquid such as stock or wine. Scrape to gather all the flavor of the materials and coating on the bottom of the pan from the frying. Add enough extra liquid sufficient to partially cover the meat when it is added back into the pan with the vegetables.
Add the meat back into the liquid the pot. Add the potatoes, carrots and other vegetables and add more liquid so that the level in the pot comes about midway up the side of the meat.
Place a lid on the pot and place in an oven, using low heat (about 325 degrees F; 160 degrees C). Cook slowly until the meat is tender. This generally takes about 45 minutes for a whole chicken or large pieces. For pork and beef it will take several hours. The cooking can also be done in a slow cooker.
Once the meat is cooked, the dish can generally be served straight from the oven. Or you can remove the meat and vegetables of heat the liquid briefly to thicken it. You can also add fresh herbs, mustard, cream or spices as this stage.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (160 degrees C). Dry the pork with paper towels and roll in salt and pepper on baking paper. Force the pepper and other spices into the meat. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch Oven or thick pot. Sear the meat on all sides using tongs to hold it in place. Remove the meat and set aside, Briefly fry the garlic, onions, celery, and carrot until they just start to soften (about 5-7 minutes). While the pot is still hot, stir in the tomato paste and combine to caramelize the sauce into a paste. Sprinkle with the flour and cook for a further 2 -3 minutes. Pour in the wine and scape the pan to release the bits on the base. Whisk the liquid and heat to reduce the volume by about a half it by half. Return the seared pork to the pot. Add the beef stock, bay leaves and parsley stems, and any other herbs you may want to include. Add extra stock to ensure the liquid level extends up the sides of the meat to about half. Cover the pan and transfer it to the oven and cook very slowly until the meat is just cooked (generally about three hours). Remove the parsley stalks, season with salt, pepper and extra herbs and serve.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Rinse and dry the chicken thighs using paper towels. Roll the pieces on baking paper sprinkled with pepper and salt. Heat one tablespoon olive oil in a Dutch oven or other type of heavy pan over high heat. Sear the chicken thighs on all sides, working in batches and using tongs to ensure all surfaces are seared. Remove the seared chicken when well-browned and set aside. Add some extra oil to the pot and fry the mushrooms until transparent and soft (generally about 5 minutes). Add the mushrooms fry for an additional 3 - 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for about two minutes without burning the garlic. Add the tomatoes. Sprinkle on some flour and the tarragon and cook for 1-2 minutes. Increase the heat and de-glaze the pan by adding white wine and scraping while the wine bubbles. Add more wine if needed and lower the heat. Adding the chicken to the pot and pour in enough chicken stock to cover the chicken about half-way. Put a lid on the pot and cook slowly in the oven for about 45 minutes, removing the lid after about 20 minutes. Check to ensure the chicken is cooked right through. Then remove the chicken and set aside. Add the sour cream and mustard to the pan and mix well. Return the chicken to the pan and spoon the sauce over the chicken as it is served. Pour into a serving bowl and serve.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Dry the pork ribs using paper towels and rub salt and pepper into each rib. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a heavy pot or Dutch using high heat. Add the ribs and sear well on all sides. Remove the ribs as they are cooked and set aside. Add some more oil and lower the heat to medium. Add the celery, onions, carrots and fry until the vegetables start to soften (generally about 5 minutes). Add the garlic and cook for an additional five minutes. Then, add the tomato paste and cook while stirring for about 3 minutes. De-glaze the pan with the apple cider vinegar, scraping the release the residues stuck to the base of the pan. Add the bay leaves, red pepper flakes and any additional spices you prefer. Add the seared ribs back into the pan and pour in sufficient stock to half cover the ribs. Bring the pan to a simmer. Then place the lid on the pot and transfer to the oven. Braise in the oven until until the pork on the ribs is tender (generally about 1 1/2 hours). Remove the lid during the last 30 minutes to thicken the sauces and to brown the pork.