Kitchen Voyeur Season 2, Episode 4 - How to Braise Anything.
Whole Cooking With Evan Hendrix.
Braising is one of the easiest and tastiest ways to make a meal at home. Most tough or fatty meats are perfect for this technique as well as hard or fibrous vegetables. If you can count to four, you can braise:
- Salt your meat or veggie on all sides. Place your cooking fat in a heavy lidded pot (like a Dutch oven) and turn up the flame to medium. Add the meat or veggie and allow it to carmalize (develop deep color). Remove and set aside.
- Simmer chopped onions, celery, carrots (collectively called Mirepoix) in the drippings left behind from searing. Stir frequently. Just like the sear, use medium flame and aim for a caramely brown color, but try not to scorch your ingredients. If you're using garlic, add it last, or it will burn.
- Fancy term, straight-forward procedure: add water or stock while stirring and scraping up the browned bits (fond) from the bottom of the pot. These bits are flavor gold. When they dissolve, they add complex flavor notes that you cannot get from typical set-it-and-forget-it, crockpot-style cooking.
- Return your meat or main-course veggie to the pot, with any accumulated juices. Do not submerge the meat (remember, this is braising, not boiling) just nestle it into the liquid till it's about 1/2 covered.
- IMPORTANT: bring the liquid back up to a simmer before you cover it and slide into your 325-degree oven for its long spa-like braise. (If you put it straight into the oven, you can lose an hour just waiting for the contents to come back up to temperature).
And that's it!
Cooking times vary depending on the size and cut of meat. For example, chicken thighs only take about an hour. But a big hunk of beef brisket can go for 8 hours or more, especially if you want it to go really low and slow at 200 degrees and fall apart in your mouth.
Please do try this at home! Because all you need is curiosity, permission, and a few techniques.