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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.