Toughness in meat works to your advantage during braising. Collagen, a key connective tissue that makes tough meat tough, converts to gelatin when cooked slowly in water, which softens the surrounding muscle. Braising is usually used for tougher cuts of meat, such as pot roasts, rumps, shanks and ribs, but not always. You can braise firm, fibrous fruits and vegetables, too. Vegetables and fruits that braise well include onions, fennel, carrots, beets, pears and apples.
Things You'll Need
- Heavy-bottomed pan
- Tight-fitting lid
- Broth, stock or wine
- Aromatic ingredients, such as herbs and spices
Heat a little oil in a braising pan, a Dutch oven or a cast-iron skillet on the stove over medium-high heat.
Season the meat or vegetables on both sides with salt and pepper, or the seasonings your specific recipe requires.
Add the meat or vegetables after the oil heats and saute them until browned all over.
Pour a cup of stock or wine in the pan after the meat or veggies brown and scrape the bottom of the pan using a wooden spoon. Next, add enough water, stock or stock and wine to come about halfway up the sides of the meat or vegetables.
Add aromatic ingredients, such as mirepoix, or 2 parts diced onions to 1 part each diced carrots and celery, and herbs and spices. Lower the heat until the liquid barely simmers and cover it with a tight-fitting lid. Or, cover the pan and place it in a 250-degree-Fahrenheit oven.
Check for doneness according to what you're cooking. Braised dishes take between 1 and 6 hours; 1 hour for smaller cuts of meat and poultry, and up to 6 hours for tough shanks and ribs. Vegetables take about 30 minutes.