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What is Braising?

By Alyssa Simon
Updated May 16, 2024
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Braising is a cooking term. It means to brown food in very hot fat quickly and then simmer it in liquid at a low temperature for hours. It is traditionally used to tenderize tough cuts of meat or poultry, but vegetables and fish can be braised as well. Pot roast is a common Western dish that usually requires braising. The word comes from the French term braiser, which means "hot charcoal."

Some cooks use a slow cooker to simmer the food after browning. Slow cookers use low heat, but the food becomes tender from its long immersion in the cooking liquid. Food can also be braised on a stovetop, as long as the pot in which the food simmers is covered and the heat or flame is checked frequently to make sure the liquid doesn't come to a boil. Braising liquids can include meat or vegetable broth, wine or juice.

The first step when braising is to season the main ingredient with the seasonings of one's choice and then heat butter, oil or lard in a very hot pan. When the food is browned on all sides, a bit of the simmering liquid can be added to loosen the browned bits on the bottom of the pan, which adds flavor to the finished dish—this process is known as deglazing. Then, the braising liquid is added, and the pan is covered and allowed to simmer on the stove or placed in an oven at low heat, usually no more than 350 degrees Fahrenheit(177 Celsius). The simmering time can range from one to five hours, depending on the amount and type of food.

If braising both meat and vegetables in one dish, it can be best for individuals to plan for quicker cooking times for the vegetables, which should be removed when done and then returned to the pot when the meat is cooked. The liquid can then be removed and made into a roux or gravy by adding flour and stirring until it thickens, or the dish can be served with just the braising juices poured over top. Some of the most popular cuts of meat for braising are roasts, ribs and a tough, but fatty cut, called a brisket. Chicken can be braised as well, and it is thought best to braise a whole chicken or bone-in chicken parts instead of boneless cuts, which may be too tender. Firm-fleshed fish like swordfish is also thought to braise well.

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Discussion Comments
By geekish — On Sep 01, 2011

@alfredo - I was with you, I had not heard of a braised menu item at a restaurant either! However, my also huge fan of meat husband said, "Oh yeah" to having seen braised meat on a menu, but he said he saw it typically at higher end restaurants.

This may not fit your taste but I had to throw out the gist of this recipe I found, it is beer-braised brisket!

And to top off the beer and a couple of other ingredients that are in the liquid, you put in onions. Sounds like the perfect way to ward off some of the winter cold with some warm beer meat...

or maybe not... at least worth a try!

By aLFredo — On Aug 31, 2011

I feel I have missed out! I have never had braised meat, not home cooked, not even at a restaurant.

Do they offer braised meat at restaurants often?

My husband who loves to cook meat, in fact he always states that his meat is so good because he "cooks with love" had the most difficult time with his first venture with brisket on the grill.

But apparently brisket is a tough piece of meat to cook, so I wonder how braised brisket would be. Seems like it would be juicy at least!

One last curious question (so many questions so little time, I always say) - what would be a braising recipe for brisket or what spices would one use with a braised brisket?

By OeKc05 — On Aug 31, 2011

I like how braised pot roast has that crispy exterior, but the meat inside is so juicy and tender. The carrots and potatoes that are cooked with it have this characteristic also, and it’s so much better to bite into a crunchy skin and find the flesh of a vegetable tender underneath than to eat mushy veggies.

The braising liquid covers everything in the slow cooker, giving it all that wonderful meaty flavor. I don’t think there is anything I would rather eat than braised roast and veggies.

By John57 — On Aug 30, 2011

You can buy special braising pans, but you really just need a pan that is large enough for your meat and tall enough to be able to simmer the liquid in.

It also works best if you have a well fitting lid and can easily lift the pan off the stove with 2 hands when you are done.

I love preparing meat by braising it in a pan on the stove. I never realized how important it is to keep the lid on until one time when I forgot. The meat was not nearly as tender and was a lot more tough than when the lid is on while the meat is simmering in the liquid.

By myharley — On Aug 29, 2011

Once I started braising turkey, I have a hard time eating it any other way. What I like best about braising the meat, is that you have control over how long you let it cook.

This works best if I cook the white meat and dark meat separately. Whenever I would cook a turkey in the past, the white meat would always be too dry. Since I like the white meat, and my husband likes the dark meat, I needed to find a way to cook the meat so it was good for both of us.

When I braise the meat separately, the white meat stays juicy and the dark meat comes out perfect every time. I leave the skin on and it even gets a little crispy which reminds of eating chicken, but with the taste of turkey.

By LisaLou — On Aug 29, 2011

The best beef roast I have made is when I take some extra time and braise the meat. When it comes to braising beef, I will rub the meat with salt and seasonings before braising on the stove.

Once the meat is braised on all sides, I will transfer it to a slow cooker and let it cook all day long. It takes a little bit more time, and is a little messier, but braising the meat really does help keep the meat tender and moist.

The times I don't go to the effort of taking this extra step and just put it in the crock pot, I can tell a difference.

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