Braising, A Classic Cooking Technique

Braising, A Classic Cooking Technique

This classic cooking technique calls for food to be browned in hot fat, then covered and slowly cooked in a small amount of liquid over low heat. Braising is ideal for preparing tough cuts of meat, such as beef short ribs and pork shoulder, and firm-textured vegetables, such as cabbage, leeks and turnips.

To braise vegetables evenly, cut the vegetables to a uniform size. And to brown meat faster, time could be saved by browning it on a  grill or under a broiler while you use the braising pot to sauté the vegetables. After browning, combine everything in the braising pot without skipping a beat. Another way to cut braising time is to use a pressure cooker, it could saves time by half without sacrificing flavor or tenderness. To convert a braised recipe for the pressure cooker, cut both the liquid and cooking time in half.

Time could also be saved by stir-braising. If you thinly slice tough cuts of meat, stir-frying techniques can be used to speed recipes for braising and stewing. Because the timing is shorter, flavors come from the addition of sauces, seasonings and stock rather than from long simmering.

Use stock or vegetable juice, or a combination, instead of water to add extra flavor to your dish. Fruit juices can also be used, and their sweetness may help balance the acidity of tomatoes or wine. Apple cider goes well with poultry or pork. Getting creative with braising is simple. Just combine ingredients such as carrots, celery and leeks and run through a juicing machine. If you don't have a juicer, a health food store can juice the ingredients for you. Bottled vegetable juices are also available in health food stores.

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