Cooler weather says comfort food and what better way to soothe the soul than with a warm, braised, and delicious dinner. Ribs, pot roast or brisket cuts are the key to a successful dish in the braising process. Adding beer, wine or stock adds even more depth to the flavor.
Braise [pronounced BRAYZ] means to cook foods (meat or vegetables) by searing in fat to brown and develop flavor then simmering in liquid in a covered pot at a low temperature for a long time until tender. The covered pot can be used on a stove top or in the oven – the oven is preferred because the heat is evenly distributed with fewer hot spots. Stews are a similar method, but the meat is cut into small cubes.
The science behind this cooking method? Slow cooking tenderizes the food by breaking down their fibers. The heat time and moisture breaks down the connective tissue (collagen) that binds together the muscle. The result is a fall apart, tender piece of meat.
- Browning creates such a fabulous flavor due to a phenomenon called the Maillard Reaction, named after the French chemist Louis-Camille Maillard. Similar to caramelization, where carbohydrates, in the form of sugars, turn brown when heated above 310⁰F.
- Once the meat is browned, remove and set aside. Add beer, wine or stock to deglaze the pot. Over low heat, stir to loosen the brown bits called “fond.”
- Place meat back into pot. Cover and bake at 300⁰F for several hours, depending on the size of the meat, until tender and starts to fall apart. Remember, low and slow is the key to success.
Cleaning tip: To remove the stubborn, cooked on food from the bottom of your braising pot, place hot, soapy water in the pot. Heat on the stove top over low heat and bring water to a simmer, just as if you were deglazing your pan. Stir, and gently scrape the bottom of the pot. Continue until all cooked on food bits have been removed.
Looking for recipe ideas to put into practice? Check out some of our favorite recipes that require braising:
Classic Beef Brisket: http://www.stonewallkitchen.com//R2196.html
Barbecued Brisket: http://www.stonewallkitchen.com//R100057.html
Maple Chipotle Baby Back Ribs: http://www.stonewallkitchen.com//R100584.html