Braising is a great cooking method for many types of meat, including beef, lamb and pork. In particular, it can be very effective for making tougher cuts of meat incredibly tender and juicy.
In addition to its versatility, braising is also relatively easy to learn. And once you know how to braise, it's pretty simple to apply to a variety of meat cuts without a recipe. Because it uses a low-and-slow cooking time, you can just check on the progress periodically to decide when it's ready to come out of the oven.
Learn more about the basic principles of braising and get tips for making delicious, flavorful braised meats at home.
What Is Braising?
Braising is a cooking method for meat that involves browning the meat before transferring it to the oven and cooking it in liquid. After the initial browning stage on the stovetop, the oven cooking temperature is kept low, providing plenty of time for flavors to develop and make any cut of meat very tender.
Step 1: Brown the Meat
Before you get started, be sure to preheat your oven to 325°F. Your oven will need to be fully preheated by the time the browning phase is complete.
Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. If you're cooking a thinner cut of meat, you can use a large skillet instead as long as it has a tight-fitting lid.
Season your meat with salt and pepper, then place it in the hot oil. Brown it on all sides, making sure you just get the browning on the outside without cooking the meat all the way through. Turn the meat multiples times throughout this process to make sure all surfaces of the meat are evenly browned.
Once all sides are seared, remove the meat from the Dutch oven or skillet and place it on a separate plate. Then, pour off some of the fat that has accumulated (you can leave some in for flavor if you'd like).
Step 2: Prepare the Liquid
Start creating your flavors for the meal by adding some vegetables, herbs and spices. Onions and garlic are must-haves in most recipes. However, you can add whatever combination works for your flavor profile.
Choose the liquid your meat will cook in based on the flavor profile you're aiming for. Beef and vegetable broth are both very popular options for classic entrees. However, you can also opt for tomato juice, apple juice, cranberry juice, beer, vermouth, wine or other liquids that complement your meal's flavors. Scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan as you get all your liquid ingredients cooking, then add the meat back into the pan.
The meat should be partially submerged but not fully covered. More liquid creates a stew-like result, while less will cook down into a more substantial sauce.
Step 3: Low-and-Slow Cooking
The easiest part comes last. Simply cover the pan and cook until tender. Check the meat occasionally and remove when fork-tender.