Braising Techniques

Braising is a method of slowly cooking food in a moist heat. Strictly speaking, braising actually refers to cooking meat on a bed of finely diced mixed vegetables (a mirepoix) along with some strong stock. The term is often confused with 'pot-roasting'; however, pot-roasted food is cooked with little, if any, liquid, whilst braising involves some liquid and cut-up vegetables to add moisture to the pan.

Whole joints or smaller pieces of beef and lamb can be braised successfully; the meat should be fairly lean and any fat that melts into the stock should be skimmed off before serving. Poultry may be also be braised; however, if the meat is tough, stewing or poaching would be more suitable cooking methods.

Braising can also be used to refer to the 'sweating' of vegetables. In this technique, vegetables such as onions and shallots are cooked gently in butter or oil in a covered pan, which is shaken frequently to prevent sticking and burning. This softens the vegetables without colouring them.

Braising can also be used to describe the baking of vegetables in a covered pan with some liquid. For example, braised fennel may be cooked in a covered pan with lemon juice, butter and stock.

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