(from the French “braiser”), is a combination cooking method
using both moist and dry heat; typically the food is first
seared at a high temperature and then finished in a covered pot
with a variable amount of liquid, resulting in a particular
flavor. Braising of meat is often referred to as pot roasting,
though some authors make a distinction between the two methods
based on whether additional liquid is added.
Braising relies on heat, time, and
moisture to break down the tough connective tissue collagen in
meat, making it an ideal way to cook tougher cuts. Many classic
braised dishes such as coq au vin are highly evolved methods of
cooking tough and otherwise unpalatable foods. Pressure cooking
and slow cooking (e.g., crockpots) are forms of braising.
Most braises follow the same
basic steps. The food to be braised (meat, poultry, but also
vegetables or mushrooms) is first seared to brown its surface and
enhance its flavor. If the food will not produce enough liquid of
its own, a small amount of cooking liquid that often includes an
acidic element, such as tomatoes, beer, or wine, is added to the
pot, often with stock. The dish is cooked covered at a very low
simmer until the meat is fork tender. Often the cooking liquid is
finished to create a sauce or gravy.
Sometimes foods with high water content (particularly
vegetables) can be cooked in their own juices and no extra liquid
A successful braise intermingles the flavours of the foods
being cooked and the cooking liquid. This cooking method dissolves
collagen from the meat into gelatin, to enrich and add body to the
liquid. Braising is economical, as it allows the use of tough and
inexpensive cuts, and efficient, as it often employs a single pot
to cook an entire meal.
It is possible to braise meats and vegetables in a pot on top of a
grill. A gas or electric grill would be the best choice for what
is known as barbecue-braising, or combining grilling directly on
the surface and braising in a pot. To braise on a grill, put a pot
on top of the grill, cover it, and let it simmer for a few hours.
There are two advantages to barbecue-braising: the first is
that this method now allows for browning the meat directly on the
grill before the braising, and the second is that it also allows
for glazing the meat with sauce and finishing it directly over the
fire after the braising, effectively cooking the meat three times,
which results in a soft-textured product that falls right off the
braised dishes include pot roast, beef stew, Swiss steak, chicken
cacciatore, goulash, Carbonade Flamande, coq au vin, sauerbraten,
beef bourguignon and Moroccan tajines, among others. Braising is
also used extensively in the cuisines of Asia, particularly
Chinese cuisine, where soy sauce is often the braising liquid.