Braising meat in the oven slow and low is the perfect, mostly hands-off method of cooking meat. No recipe needed, just use meat, liquid, seasoning, and vegetables for an easy comfort food meal.
What is Braising Meat?
Braising is a process of browning meat and cooking in a small amount of liquid in a tightly covered pan.
A slow and low cooking method develops the flavors and transforms any cut of meat into a fork-tender piece of meal that is both crispy and succulent.
Mostly, I braise beef roasts and chicken, it's a perfect way to cook on a Sunday. I can put everything in the oven and go about the day completing the never-ending chores around the house without having to stay in my kitchen for a solid hour. I'll set the timer on my phone to periodically check on the meal.
Why Braise Meat in the Oven rather than the stove top?
Oven braising will cooks the meat on a lower temperature for a longer time without overcooking and drying out the meat. Oven braising is preferable because the meat is cooked with indirect heat. Indirect heat means there is no heat source under the food.
HOW TO BRAISE MEAT IN THE OVEN : 3 Easy Steps
Step One- Brown and Sear the meat in hot oil.
- Preheat the oven to 275° F.
- On the stovetop over medium-high heat, heat about 2 tablespoons vegetable oil in a Dutch Oven.
- Season the meat with salt and pepper.
- Add the meat to the hot Dutch Oven and sear the meat on all sides. You are not cooking the meat thoroughly; you just want to brown the outsides until browned crispy crust forms. When browned, the meat should release from the pan easily.
- Remove the meat and set aside.
- Next, Deglaze the pan, pour a small amount of red wine or broth into the pan, and use a wooden spoon to scrape up all the flavorful brown bits on the bottom of the pan.
- Add a Mirepoix (chopped onions, celery, carrots,), etc., and saute in the pan drippings for about 1 minute.
- Return meat to the pan.
What is Deglazing? - After you have browned the meat, little bits of cooked meat is left on the bottom of the pan. When you add liquid, such as wine or broth, and scrape those bits off the bottom of the pan, they impart lots of flavor into the cooking liquid.
What is Searing? - Searing is a technique used to brown the surface of the food at a high temperature until a browned crust form.
Step Two- Add the braising liquid and seasonings.
The following measurements are for a 2 to 3-pound beef or pork roast. Combine the liquid and seasonings in a measuring cup, then pour around the meat.
- Liquid: Use about 1 cup in total. You might want to use a beef or vegetable stock, cranberry juice, diced tomatoes with juice, dry red wine, water, or my favorite, apple juice. Try combining flavors; ½ apple juice + ½ cranberry juice, or tomatoes and dry red wine combined. The braising liquid should not cover the meat, you don't want to boil the meat.
- Dried Herbs: Use about 1 teaspoon of dried herbs or 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs.
- Extra Flavors: You can also add a flavor enhancer. Use about 1 tablespoon of barbeque sauce, mustards, steak sauce, or Worcestershire sauce to add a little zing.
Step Three - Braising meat slow and low until fork tender.
Cover the pan and cook in a preheated oven at 275° F until meat reaches 165° F.
Depending on the size of the cut of meat, it takes about 2 to 3 hours for the meat to become fork-tender. Cooking any longer will dry out the meat. Don’t slice into the meat to check for doneness, instead use an instant-read thermometer like this one from Thermoworks. The ThermoPop model is so cute, accurate and the one I own, a bit pricey but worth it. This one from ThermoPro also gets good ratings and is more affordable on Amazon.
Cooking slow and low breaks down the meat fibers resulting in a tender and delicious braised cut of meat. The liquid level needs to remain the same, so check occasionally and add more liquid if necessary.
Add vegetables and potatoes to make it a meal. To cook the potatoes and vegetables with the meat, follow these simple guidelines.
Add the potatoes 45 minutes before the meat is done and add the vegetables about 30 minutes before done. Adding sooner will result in mushy overcooked potatoes or vegetables. Be sure to cover the pan tightly after adding potatoes and veggies.
Vegetables - Use about ¾ to 1 pound of cut-up vegetables into larger chunks, about 2 inches. Consider Parsnips, Carrots, Leeks, Shallots, or Brussel Sprouts.
What is the best potato to use so it won’t fall apart? When braising in small amounts of liquid, just about any type of potato works fine. My personal favorite is Yukon Gold. I prefer my vegetables and potatoes unpeeled, but that’s my personal preference.
What are the best types of meat for Braising?
Generally, you want to use a less tender cut of meat that has more connective fibers that will break-down during cooking and make the meat fork-tender and flavorful.
Good cuts for braising include:
- Top Blade Roast
- Chuck Eye Roast
- Seven Bone Roast
- Short Ribs
- Chicken - I like braising the legs and thighs, always use bone-in chicken with skin.
Note: when Braising Chicken I prefer to use this Staub Braiser and cook at a slightly higher temperature of 300° F. Important: Chicken needs to reach a minimum internal temperature of 165 °F.
Can You make a Braise the day before? Yes, I sometimes make my Braise a day ahead and refrigerate the meat in the sauce so it absorbs the flavors and doesn’t dry out. To serve warm the meat in the sauce or liquid and baste frequently.
What's the difference between a Braise and a Stew?
Both braising and stews are slow cooked at a low temperature. A Braise uses just enough liquid required to cook the meat while a stew requires enough cooking liquid to mostly cover the meat.
Should the braising liquid cover the meat?
Use just enough liquid to surround but not completely cover the meat. As the meat cooks the liquid will reduce concentrating the flavor of the sauce.
Useful link to USDA Safe Minimum Internal Temperature Chart
My go-to Easy Sunday Roast:
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