Cooking Techniques: Braising Pot Roast


Mandatory Credit: jeffreyw

Braising is a type of cooking that is great to use when dealing with tougher cuts of meats or tough vegetables.  Braising breaks down the connective tissues in meats making them easy to eat and very tasty keeping them moist while cooking.

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When you braise a piece of meat, you will add the meat and partially cover it with liquid and then cook it at a low temperature for a long time.  This can be done on the stove-top but it is best to be done in the oven where the hear is all around the meat and can cook it evenly.

When you braise a piece of meat, you want to sear it first.  Searing the meat will provide a visually appealing look but the major reason why you would sear the meat is to lock in the flavors of the meat.  To sear a piece of meat before braising it, you will melt some butter in a pan.  When hot, place one side of the meat in the pan for about 1 – 2 minutes per side.  After the meat has been seared it is ready to be braised.

Braising a piece of meat, allows the connective tissue to break down making the meat easier to eat, as we said above, but it also allows the muscle tissues to absorb the moisture from the liquid in the pan and steam adding to the flavor and also creating a juicy piece of meat.

Braising is a great way to set it and forget it, so slow cookers are a good substitute for the oven.

One meal that comes to mind fro braising is a pot roast.  A larger cut of meat can be used.  Sear the meat first and get the slow cooker up and running.  Add beef stock to the slow cooker and then add the meat.  Any seasonings that you want the meat to absorbs hould be placed into the liquid as this will be the easiest way for the meat to gain the flavors you want.

The nice thing about braising is that you can braise vegetables as well.  Carrots, Cabbage, Celery and any other fibrous or tough vegetable can be braised.  Add these to the slow cooker and get ready for a meal.

After the meat and vegetables are cooked through, you can take the liquid that is remaining and add a roux, flour and butter, to it to thicken the sauce and make a basic gravy for the pot roast and vegetables, or you can use the liquid as an Au Jus for the meal.