Braising meat is a great way to turn a tough cut of meat into tender morsels for a number of dishes. Although this cooking technique is commonly used on tough cuts of meat, it can also be used on tender chops and steaks. Braising can be done in a braiser, slow cooker, or right on the stove. Some people begin by browning the meat and then transferring it to a slow cooker or crock pot. For those who already know the basics of braising meat, here are a few tips to improve the process and lead to improved dishes.
One of the key tips is to make sure that every piece of meat that is being braised is of nearly equal size. If the pieces vary quite a bit in size, then so will the texture of the final product. The same should be done for any vegetables that will be braised along with the meat. Otherwise the dish could have pieces of vegetables that are undercooked and others that are mushy. Vegetables that braise well with meat include beets, carrots, fennel, and onions. Some fruits such as apples and pineapples also braise well and can add a nice sweetness to the dish.
When braising meat, it is important not to let the braising liquid diminish too low in the pan. Some people like to let some of the liquid evaporate and use the braising liquid as a sauce. This is fine to do, but should only be done at the very end of the cooking process when the meat has been almost completely braised.
It is also important not to use too much liquid while braising meat. By allowing the liquid to fall too low in the pan or cooker, the result will be baked meat. By using too much liquid, the result will be stewed meat, so for the proper results, it is important to just use enough liquid to come about halfway up the sides of the meat.
When braising meat, be sure not to let the liquid boil. One of the keys to braising meat is to cook the meat slowly, which helps to create a tender dish. If the liquid boils while the meat is being braised, the cooking may happen too quickly and result in a tough dish. This will completely counteract one of the key positive benefits to braising meat, which is to create tender morsels of meat.