Looking for a meal where you throw everything in a pot and forget about it? Try braising. It's a twist on the stewslow-cooking large cuts of meat and whole vegetables instead of bite-size pieces.
Braising is handy for tough cuts of meat that need a longer cooking time to become tender and delectable. It's also good for especially hard vegetables, like parsnips, turnips or fennel.
Tools Of The Trade
The key to braising is a heavy pan with a lid that fits securely that can be placed on top of the stove and in the oven. A tight-fitting lid helps locks in moisture. The pan should be large enough to hold the food in one layer without too much space around it.
Rinse the meat and pat dry with paper towels. Coat in flour seasoned with salt and pepper. Brown the meat on all sides on the stove, being careful not to crowd the pan, or the meat will steam and not brown. This step creates a crust on the meat that lightly thickens the pan juices during braising.
When you return the meat to the pan, you'll add a cooking liquid like stock, wine, beer, tomato juice, or some combination. Once the liquid comes to a boil, finish in a 325°F oven.
Unlike many other dishes, braised meats don't lose their luster after a day. If anything, they taste better.
Try these wonderful braised dishes:
Roast Pork Loin with Braised Apples and Cabbage
Mark Miller's Braised Lamb Shanks with Scarlet Runner Beans and Ricotta
Mark Miller, Coyote Café, Santa Fe, NM
Chicken Braised in Apple Cider
Vegetables do not need browning before braising, and they are not always tightly covered.
Root vegetables can be glazed to give them a glossy appearance and faintly sweet taste as the last step in the braising process. When the vegetables are almost tender, add a few teaspoons of unsalted butter to the pan along with a few teaspoons of sugar.
Leftover braised vegetables are good served cold with a light vinaigrette.
Joyce Goldstein's Braised Fennel