For satisfying meals and fare for entertaining, learning how to braise food is a worthwhile endeavor. Large batches are as easy as smaller ones, and both fill a kitchen with rich and enticing smells. With the right equipment and a few techniques on hand, delicious braised foods are a breeze.
Pans and Pots for Braising
The best place to begin is with braising basics, and that means locating optimal equipment. Look for a heavy pot with a lid that fits tightly. You will need a pot that is large enough to contain all of the ingredients, and there must still be a couple of inches of room on top of the food. This extra space creates condensation that bastes the food as it cooks. A cast iron Dutch oven is a common choice.
Long Braise Vs. Short Braise
Next, it is important to understand whether short or long braising will be used. Short braising works well with vegetables and small poultry selections. Meals done via this method may be finished cooking in about an hour. Long braising is done over a lengthier period of time. This method cooks meats that can be tough, but the braising makes them tender through slow cooking at low temperatures.
Brown Meat On All Sides
Before beginning the braising process, the meat is browned. This step is crucial for ensuring the dish is as flavorful as it can be. To brown the pieces meat, begin by patting them dry. For fattier cuts, try a dusting of flour for searing a crust onto them. Use oil or duck fat that has been heated to high temperature, and make sure the pieces are evenly browned.
Braising Liquids and Braised Sauces
The final key to a successful dish is the sauce. The browning process gives the sauce its initial flavor kick, but the additional ingredients used to perfect the pot can make it special. Add vegetables to the bottom of the pan and give them a quick cooking to release the flavors. Mirepoix is often the vegetable mix of choice — containing onions, celery and carrots.
Next you need to add your braising liquid; this liquid is what does much of the cooking during the process by creating a flavorful steam around the meat while it is being roasted. Braising liquid can be anything including wine, beer, stock, or even a can of soda (used often in braised pork shoulder). Remember not to peak at the roast too often, as you will be letting out all that good steam. Also, remember to use enough liquid to last for however many hours of braising will be done.
Braised Sauce to Thick? Braised Sauce to Thin?
Overly thick sauces, for example, can be thinned with a splash of wine or broth. Thin sauces may be thickened by removing some of it to create a reduction in a sauce pan. Adding it back in will make the sauce in the pot thicker. Fresh herbs added at the end of cooking can provide a flavor boost.
Those are the basics of braising meats. It may take a while to get the hang of it, but don’t worry, the biggest mistake you can make is overcooking the meat, wherein the meat will be a little dry; however, it is difficult to create a braising catastrophe.
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