What is braising?
Braising is a cooking technique in which the main ingredient is browned in fat, then two-thirds covered in liquid and simmered in a covered pot over a low heat. It’s one of the best ways to prepare hearty, homely comfort food.
Benefits of braising:
- Renders cheaper, tougher cuts of meat tender and flavourful — so it’s ideal for anyone working within a budget.
- Makes its own delicious sauce or gravy.
- Most of the cooking time doesn’t require much attention — perfect for entertaining.
- Because it’s one-pot cooking, you’re left with minimal clean-up.
- Cuts down on food waste: anything leftover can be frozen, or will be even more flavoursome after a night in the fridge.
What can I braise?
Use tougher, less tender cuts of meat — a lean cut is a waste to braise, and will be far less flavoursome. Some of the best options are:
- Beef chuck or housekeeper’s cut
- Beef, lamb or pork shoulder (this is the best way to make pulled pork)
- Beef or pork cheeks
- Beef brisket
- Lamb shanks
- Beef short ribs
- Chicken legs and thighs, bones in
- Root vegetables
- Fruits like apples or pears (the sweetness goes well with pork)
- Some other vegetables work surprisingly well when braised! Make classic braised cabbage, or try something completely different with this lettuce dish.
The braising process:
- Pat the meat dry with kitchen paper and season generously with salt and black pepper.
- Heat a few tablespoons of oil and/or butter in a heavy pan or casserole.
- Working in batches to avoid crowding the pan, sear the outsides of the meat in the pan over a medium-high heat until nicely browned.
- Transfer the meat to a plate. Deglaze the pan by adding a little stock, juice, wine or other alcohol. Allow to bubble for 1-2 minutes, using a wooden spoon to scrape any sticky bits from the bottom of the pan.
- Return the meat to the pan and cover two-thirds of the way with a cooking liquid, which can be water, stock, wine, juice or a combination.
- Cover and cook the meat over a low heat on the hob or in a low oven.
- Cook until completely tender. This can take from 2-6 hours, depending on what you’re cooking.
- Strain the meat and vegetables out of the liquid.
- Skim off any excess fat floating in the liquid, then reduce the sauce to desired thickness, or turn it into a gravy by adding a roux.
Looking for recipe inspiration? Try this braised beef with chillies and onions, a full-flavoured dinner that won’t break the bank.