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Old 23-07-2009, 01:32 PM posted to rec.food.drink
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Default The Braise

A classic cooking technique that transforms sublime and often tougher
cuts of meat into succulent melt in your mouth goodness. By definition
braising is technique where food is browned in and then simmered in a
small amount of liquid over a long period of time.
This method of cooking is exactly what tougher cut of meat like chuck
roasts and briskets also the more fibrous veg tables such as
celery,carrots and leeks are all candidates for the braise.
Braising is often thought of as a winter preparation due to the colder
temperatures and the need food to provide sustenance. Also the
addition of extra heat in the kitchen in the dead of winter is also a
welcome surprise. It may have have also been born out of necessity.
Winter harvest include such staples as carrot,onions, leeks and corn
which in some cases provide the base of the braising liquid. And meals
definitely had to have that "Stick To Ribs" factor.
But with the advent of greater transportation and freezing development
along with farming techniques these formerly winter staples can be
bought fresh or frozen. Now I don't prescribe to the notion that food
should only be braised in the dead of winter, when I feel like I want
short ribs I want short ribs. I don't need to wait until the weather
changes. And now a days tougher cuts of meat are back in fashion in
many restaurants. So I say crank up the air conditioner and bring out
the casserole and braise.
The process of conduction the transfer of heat from a liquid and
convection the transfer of heat from the air to the food. Braising is
a moist heat cooking method that can be thought of as a combination
method of preparing tougher cuts of meat. The meat is first browned
(sauteed) in fat to develop some character and a crust to lock in
juices and flavor of the meat. It is then transferred to a casserole
or a large pot with a tight fitting lid to prevent the evaporation and
stop steam from escaping.
Liquid is added to a depth of 1-2 inches depending on the casserole
and the meat being prepared. At this point aromatics are added to the
pot. It can be cooked on the stove top over medium heat low heat or in
a medium oven set to 325- 350 degrees. Braising in the oven offers a
more consistent heat control than the stove top, which only heats from
the bottom while oven cooking provides heat all over. Heat from the
oven can also be maintained easier,with less attention than on the
stove top.
Classic french braising calls for the vegetables to be added for there
aromatic qualities they impart on the meat but are not served with the
final product. Fresh vegetables are added close to the end of the
cooking time to maintain there flavor and texture.
In most cases the cooking liquid is used as the finishing sauce for
the meal. The veg table are strained off and in some case thickened
with a roux, cream or even butter. The simple art of braising can be
further broken down into more subcategories and more methods. Brown
braising or sauteing food prior to the braising or white braising when
food is braised with sauteing. Choice of cooking mediums water,broth
or wine. Choice of aromatics, herbs or veg tables. Even with all the
choices the basic method has changed little.

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