What is Braising?
Braising (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 flavour.
Braising relies on heat, time, and moisture to successfully break down tough connective tissue and collagens in meat. It is an ideal way to cook tougher cuts. Many classic braised dishes such as Coq au Vin are highly-evolved methods of cooking tough and unpalatable foods. Swissing, stewing and pot-roasting are all braising types. Braising is a form of pressure cooking.
Most braises follow the same basic steps. The meat or poultry is first seared in order to brown its surface and enhance its flavour. Aromatic vegetables are sometimes then browned as well. A cooking liquid that often includes an acidic element, such as tomatoes, beer, or wine, is added to the pot, often with stock, to not quite cover the meat. The dish is cooked covered at a very low simmer until meat is fork tender. Often the cooking liquid is finished to create a sauce or gravy.