Q. What cuts of meat benefit the most from braising? Any general braising tips? — Colby, Little Chute
A. Braising is a combination cooking method that utilizes both dry and moist cooking methods on tough pieces of meat. Tough cuts come from the part of animals that move a lot like shoulders and legs. The term “braising” is generally applied to large pieces of meat in the same way that the term stewing is applied to small pieces of meat. Both processes use dry heat first to brown the meat by searing the outside and developing flavor by creating a deep brown exterior. Then flavorful broth or stock is added to cover the meat and cooked under medium-low moist heat to slowly break down the muscles over several hours until they become fork tender and ready to enjoy. Two important things to remember when braising include flavor development and technique. The browning process (known as the maillard reaction) is important to develop that rich umami flavor of seared meat and can only be achieved with dry heat. Once liquid is added, browning can no longer occur. The flavor components of the liquid are also really important as they will definitely influence the finished product. The stock or broth, as well as the vegetables, herbs and spices all have a tremendous impact on the finished product.