Braising 101: 5 Tips To Get The Perfect Braise

This essential technique is perfect for cold winter weekends. All you need is an inexpensive cut of meat—and time. Here’s how.
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braised lamb in a cast iron dish with red wine sauce

1. Choose Your Cut

Heavily marbled meat is the best for braising. Look for lamb or pork shoulders or shanks, beef chuck roasts, or briskets. They have plenty of fat to keep the meat juicy and tons of collagen that will break down into gelatin and give a rich, silky texture.

2. Start With a Sear

For the most flavor, brown your meat before you braise. In a large heavy pot, add a couple of tablespoons of an oil that’s good for high-heat cooking, such as grapeseed or vegetable oil. Pat your meat dry with paper towels, season it, and then stick it in the hot pot. Don’t overcrowd it: A packed pot means you will end up steaming instead of searing. Let the meat cook until it naturally releases from the pot. (It will probably take longer than you think.)

3. Add Veg—and Wine

Remove the meat from the pot. Add a mix of chopped carrots, onions, and celery; some garlic; and a few fresh herb sprigs to the pot. Stir until the veggies are browned. Add a cup of red wine and stir, scraping the browned bits from the bottom of the pot. (Browned bits = big flavor.)

4. Give It Time

Put the meat back in. Add enough broth to come about three-quarters of the way up the sides of the meat. Bring the broth to a gentle simmer on the stovetop. Then cover the pot and stick it in a 325° oven, turning the meat during cooking, until the meat is fork-tender, around 2 to 4 hours.

5. Devour!

Your reward for all that waiting? Succulent, tender meat that’s delicious piled on top of creamy mashed potatoes, polenta, buttered egg noodles, or soft hamburger buns… You get the idea. Pro tip: Serve the meat with the rest of that bottle of red.