The technique of braising food items is older than the oven itself! When open fires and hearths were the main heat source for cooking, cooks would suspend large covered pots over the heat and allow foods to slowly cook in a small amount of liquid which is either added or created by the food itself. Similar to pot roasting, braising uses a combination of both moist and dry heat. In many instances, foods are first seared and then cooked slowly at a low temperature with liquid in a closed container. If you’re thinking of adding braised items to your menu, here are some simple steps to follow.
-Selection: The best items to add to your menu for braising are tough cuts of meats and select aromatic vegetables such as carrots and onions. Meats that work well for braising are chuck, flank, brisket, rump, roast, ribs, and round.
-Searing: As previously stated, the first step to braising is to sear the surface of the food to brown it. After searing the meats over a medium-high heat in a little bit of oil, you can also add a touch of corn syrup or brown sugar to the remaining oil for a caramelized flavor.
-Soak: After searing, your food items to be braised should be covered in a braising liquid to cover about ⅔ of the product. Braising liquids are dependent on the flavors you’re seeking and can be water, wine, juice, or a combination of the three. Many Asian dishes utilize soy as the braising liquid to achieve a rich, ethnic cuisine.
-Simmer: Bring the temperature of the surrounding stock to 180-190 degrees Fahrenheit and maintain the simmer for 1 to 6 hours, or until the product is fully cooked. Keep in mind that vegetables tend to cook quicker than meats!
-Strain: Remove the product from the heat source and strain any liquids. The fatty braising liquid from meats can be used for gravies and sauces.
While many at-home braisers may utilize a range and oven, restaurants can take advantage of pressure steamers and braising pans! These tools are designed for large amounts of product and are much easier to operate for efficient braising. The menu options are endless, ranging from well-known items such as pot roast, chicken cacciatore, and goulash to exquisite dishes like coq au vin, Carbonade Flamande, and beef bourguignon. Braised items are usually more flavorful and moist - qualities that sometimes get lost in the quickness of other cooking methods. It is a method that can turn a tough meat into a succulent dish.
E Friedman Associates