What is braising? From the French word, Braiser, the meaning of braising is the process of cooking with moist as well as dry heat best suited for larger traditionally tougher cuts of meat. Thought to date back over 300,000 years ago, Harvard anthropologist, Richard Wrangham, a leading voice in cooking-evolution theory, believes that the art of braising and breaking down the tougher cuts of the wild meat prehistoric man ate helped lead to our evolution. Due to the science behind cooking food and how cooked has more calories than raw, as well as the more tender the actual food is, humans were able to eat quicker. This caused the development of the teeth we have today, as well as smaller stomachs which made man able to stand upright.
Braising became immensely popular in the 1800s and the 1870s cookbook Meat: How to Select, How to Cook, and How to Carve by Mary Baton featured a recipe for braised mutton, an older lamb at least three-years-old. Also found in the 12th edition of The Kitchen Encyclopedia from 1901, braising is described as “a method used by the French…a cross between boiling and baking.”
Braising is a multiple step process and takes a considerable amount of time to do well.
To start its important to have all your mise en place (preparations done and organized in advance).
Liberally season the cuts of meat.
Preheat a Dutch oven on stove top to medium-high heat. Add oil and sear cuts of meat on all sides until evenly browned. Remove cuts of meat and cook vegetables (mire poix) in Dutch oven until softened (careful not to burn). Return cuts of meat to Dutch oven with mire poix and cook for 5 minutes, add liquids (wine / stock). Bring to low simmer, cover, and place into preheated oven at 250 degrees. Allow to braise in oven until meat is loosely falling off the bone. Once this level of doneness is achieved, return Dutch oven to stove top and simmer on low, season to taste.
Check out these two braising recipes to try: