Braising is the best way to turn a tough cut of meat tender. So how do you do it?
Braising is perhaps the most transformative of all cooking methods: A tough, gnarly cut goes into a pot with some liquid, and hours later, without any hands-on work, you have tender, succulent meat. Some braises start with a sear to build flavor, while others get straight to the moist cooking, but all braises involve long, gentle simmering in a liquid that, once the fat has been strained out, can become a flavorful sauce. We present you with a primer on this invaluable technique.
Braising, stewing, pot roasting, and slow cooking all share common ground: Cooking protein with liquid in a closed, moist environment to help break down the protein and achieve soft, tender meat. But where stewing usually involves completely submerging small pieces of meat with liquid, braising generally calls for much less liquid. And the resulting dish is more often eaten with a fork, not a spoon.
Technically speaking, you can braise a carrot or a tender fish fillet. But usually, braising means starting with cuts of meat that are laden with fat and tough connective tissue. Here are a few of our favorites: