Please Sign In

Please enter a valid username and password
  • Log in with Facebook
» Not a member? Take a moment to register
» Forgot Username or Password

Why Register?
Signing up could earn you gear (click here to learn how)! It also keeps offensive content off our site.

5 Tips for Better Braising

Recent Comments

Categories

Recent Posts

Archives

Syndicate

Google Reader or Homepage
Add to My Yahoo!
Add to My AOL

The Wild Chef
in your Inbox

Enter your email address to get our new post everyday.

February 19, 2014

5 Tips for Better Braising

By David Draper

Sometimes, when I mention the word “braising,” people look at me all quizzically—like I’m talking about some fancy, foreign cooking technique. Nothing could be further from the truth. Braising is the very simple act of cooking something—generally meat—at a low temperature under moist heat for a long period of time.

Sounds a lot like cooking in a Crock-Pot, doesn’t it?

In fact, anytime you’re using a slow-cooker, whether making a pot roast, stew, cacciatore, or any number of other low-and-slow recipes, you’re braising. You can also braise in a heavy-duty pot on the stovetop or in the oven. In fact, I do all my braises in my Dutch oven this way. The low temperatures, moist heat, and long cooking times break down collagens in the meat and can make the toughest of cuts fork-tender. To me, it’s the most essential cooking technique for wild-game cooks. Braising is perfect any time of year, but it’s particularly enjoyable in winter, when the long braise can fill the house with tantalizing and unctuous odors of hearty meat.

There are few basics to braising: Keep temperatures low, 250 degrees or below; always keep the lid tightly closed; don’t use too much liquid—just enough to come about a quarter or halfway up the side of the meat. Beyond that, here are five tips to know that can make a good braise even better.

Brown Everything
Before braising, every side of the meat should be seared in a little bit of oil over high heat, but browning aromatic vegetables, such as onions and celery, also develops another deep layer of flavor. If you’re using a Crock-Pot or other slow-cooker, brown meat and vegetables in a heavy-skillet, then add them to the pot.

Add A Little Sugar
After the browning step, add a pinch or two of brown sugar or a bit of molasses or honey to the remaining oil and let it caramelize to create a surprisingly rich, but not sweet, taste.

Deglaze

After the sugar step, splash a little liquid—wine, stock, water—and as it simmers, scrape up what is known as the “fond,” the browned bits on the bottom of the pan. These are like tiny flavor grenades.

Use Deep Flavors
Because cooking times are so long, braises are no place to be delicate. Instead of water, use a darker stock or stout wines. A few bay leaves are essential. Rosemary, fennel, star anise, and even an anchovy or two will raise your braising game.

Let It Rest
Almost without exception, braised meats taste better the next day. Something about letting them rest allows all those layers of flavor to come together.

Comments (3)

Top Rated
All Comments
from Gtbigsky wrote 8 weeks 1 day ago

Spot on! I hate seeing people just throw un browned hunks of meat into any slow cooking operation. It is totally and rookie move. Take it one step further and throw the spices in the pan with a bit of oil before the veggies to wake those spices up. Deglazing is essential and the concoction always taste better a day or two after. If I cooked chili or a Bollengase sauce I always wait atleast a day to serve it. I'm making a red meat sauce this friday with beef short ribs, country pork ribs and chicken thighs. I love slow cooking hearty sauces. Yeah baby!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Gtbigsky wrote 8 weeks 1 day ago

Also a must if you are going to use mushrooms. Brown those suckers until the are barely crispy on the edges. That really brings out some earthy flavor which will add to the richness. Good on ya, Draper

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ITHACASXS wrote 7 weeks 4 days ago

I love to braise the tough cuts of whatever as well as a medley of waterfowl legs. Last year my wife got me a Le Creuset oven and I've been braising/cooking with it like a madman. Bravo Gtbigsky on browning mushrooms, they add a ton of goodness to the feast. Great post.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment

from Gtbigsky wrote 8 weeks 1 day ago

Spot on! I hate seeing people just throw un browned hunks of meat into any slow cooking operation. It is totally and rookie move. Take it one step further and throw the spices in the pan with a bit of oil before the veggies to wake those spices up. Deglazing is essential and the concoction always taste better a day or two after. If I cooked chili or a Bollengase sauce I always wait atleast a day to serve it. I'm making a red meat sauce this friday with beef short ribs, country pork ribs and chicken thighs. I love slow cooking hearty sauces. Yeah baby!

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from Gtbigsky wrote 8 weeks 1 day ago

Also a must if you are going to use mushrooms. Brown those suckers until the are barely crispy on the edges. That really brings out some earthy flavor which will add to the richness. Good on ya, Draper

0 Good Comment? | | Report
from ITHACASXS wrote 7 weeks 4 days ago

I love to braise the tough cuts of whatever as well as a medley of waterfowl legs. Last year my wife got me a Le Creuset oven and I've been braising/cooking with it like a madman. Bravo Gtbigsky on browning mushrooms, they add a ton of goodness to the feast. Great post.

0 Good Comment? | | Report

Post a Comment