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The cooking method for tender meat and delicious sauces
If you enjoy meat that seems to dissolve on your tongue and creamy, flavourful sauces, then braising is the cooking method for you. Find out here what to pay attention to when braising.
Braised dishes are perfect winter warmer meals and taste deliciously hearty. Both the oven and stove top can be used for braising in a large pot, roasting pan or a deep pan with a lid. A clay pot can also be used, but requires an additional pan, as braising is a combination cooking method that consists of two steps. First, the meat is seared on a high heat, before leaving it to cook in simmering liquid. The term “to braise” is derived from the French word “braiser”, as this cooking method was perfected in France.
The most popular ingredient for braising is meat. Whether beef, pork, poultry, game or lamb, the choice is yours. Usually the cheaper cuts such as shank meat, are used for braising, as they are more fibrous and tough. The long cooking process turns the tough connective tissue into soft gelatin. Braising transforms previously tough, unappetising meat into a buttery soft and tender delicacy. Bacon, root vegetables or mushrooms are great flavoursome additions to braised meat. Famous dishes that develop their signature flavour through braising include goulash, beef roulade or ossobuco alla Milanese.
The flavours created by frying the meat are central to braising. Heat some fat in a pot or pan, ideally clarified butter, coconut oil or other plant oils. Then add the meat, season it with salt and pepper and brown it well on all sides. Larger quantities of meat should be divided into portions, as the bottom of the pan or pot should never be fully covered. Once the meat has begun to brown nicely, add the chopped onions and vegetables and continue to fry. Next, you can deglaze the pan with stock, vegetable broth or wine. Bay leaves or peppercorns can enhance the dish by adding them to the sauce – just don’t forget to remove them before serving.
If you are using a pot or pan, you should now close the lid, reduce the temperature and allow the ingredients to slowly cook for another two to three hours. If you prefer clay pots or roasting pans, transfer the meat into the oven after frying to complete the cooking process. 150°C is the ideal temperature to ensure that the meat remains juicy even after being cooked for hours. A kitchen thermometer allows you to determine when the meat is perfectly cooked even more precisely. A core temperature of 70 to 85°C is enough to allow the tough, fibrous connective tissue to be converted to tender, juicy meat. Once cooked, remove the meat from the stock and keep it warm while you puree the vegetables and liquid to form a creamy sauce.
Traditionally braised meat is served with roasted potatoes and cabbage or green beans. If you are feeling more experimental, you can add a Middle Eastern note with dates, dried cranberries or raisins, almonds and curry powder, served with couscous. If you find you made too much and have leftovers, simply store them in a plastic box and freeze them – your meal will keep for up to half a year.
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