TOPAZ CAFÉ: In Season – BRAISING
There’s nothing better than coming home to the aroma of meat braising until it's ultra-tender. Chefs love this hands-off method of slow simmering because it's economical, easy and yields amazing results. Here's how to braise at home.
The technique of braising meats may sound a bit intimidating, but there's really nothing to it! Braising is simply a cooking method that involves browning meat in oil, then cooking it in a small amount of liquid in a tightly covered pan, either on the stovetop or in the oven. The long, slow cook time helps develop flavor and turn tougher meat cuts fork-tender. One of the most popular types of braised beef is pot roast, which is usually a chuck or round roast with added vegetables. Pork and lamb are also delicious braised.
STEP 1: Brown the Meat
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (if you're oven braising).
- Trim any excess fat from the meat.
- Heat about 2 tablespoons oil in a 4- to 6-quart large, heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid (oven safe, if oven braising). Season the meat with salt and pepper. Add the meat to the hot oil. You should hear it sizzle. Brown the meat on all sides, turning as needed (cook the meat just until brown on the outside but not cooked all the way through). Remove the browned meat from the pan and pour off any fat. Return the meat to the pan.
STEP 2: Add Liquid and Seasonings
Now for the creative part -- adding liquid and seasonings. The following suggestions are for a 2-1/2- to 3-pound beef or pork roast, or four bone-in beef or lamb shanks (about 1 pound each). Combine the liquid and seasonings, then pour around the meat.
Liquid: Use about 3/4 cup total. Choices include, but are not limited to, beef or vegetable broth, apple juice, cranberry juice, tomato juice, a combination of broth and dry wine, or water.
Dried Herbs: Add about 1 teaspoon dried basil, Herbes de Provence, Italian seasoning, oregano, or thyme. For fresh snipped herbs, use 1 tablespoon.
Liquid Seasoning: These flavor enhancers are optional. If desired, add 1 tablespoon barbecue sauce, Dijon-style mustard, low-sodium soy sauce, steak sauce, or Worcestershire sauce.
STEP 3: Braise Until Tender
Chuck Pot Roast approximately 2-3 hours (cooking times vary according to cut of meat, weight and thickness).
Transform a braised meat dish into a meal by adding potatoes and veggies about 30 to 45 minutes before the meat is done. Be sure to cover the pan tightly after adding potatoes and veggies.
Potatoes: Use about 1 pound of potatoes for a typical 2-1/2- to 3-pound roast. Peel and quarter medium-size potatoes and/or sweet potatoes. If using new potatoes, peel a strip of skin from the centers.
Other Vegetables: Use about 1 pound total. These should be cut into 1- to 2-inch pieces. Consider peeled butternut squash, peeled carrots or parsnips, sliced celery, trimmed and sliced fennel bulb, sliced leeks or shallots, trimmed mushrooms, onion wedges or peeled pearl onions, and peeled turnips or rutabaga.
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