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Braising Short Ribs, help with choice of cookware

So this weekend I am braising short ribs (following the recipe in the Balthazar cookbook) and for some stupid reason it just dawned on me that my dutch oven is way too small for the portions I am making. I have a very large KitchenAid roasting pan, is there a way to (post-browning meat) utilize something else and still get really good results?

Anyone have any improvisational short rib braising tips?

Truth be told, I'm way to cheap today to go buy a le creuset 5.5qt, but it will happen soon. Just definitely not in time for this dinner.


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  1. If it's a good heavy roasting pan with sides at least 4" high, it'll work just fine. I cut a sheet of parchment to fit the pan and then cover that with heavy foil. If you have a baking sheet that's the right size, that works even better.

    1. Is it that time of year already? ;)

      I asked the same question last year (http://www.chowhound.com/topics/369327) but I needed something for a small quantity, not a big one.

      What I learned is that a real dutch oven, while lovely, it not really necessary for braising. Anything you've got that is oven safe and will hold the amount you're trying to make (how much is that anyway?) will work. You'll just have to fashion a lid of sorts so it doesn't dry out. (parchment, foil, a cookie sheet...) Be creative, I'm sure you can make it work.

      Edited to add: Le crueset is beatiful and all...but in my book defiantely not worth the price when you can find pretty much the same thing (though in a much smaller color and shape variety) from lodge at a fraction of the price. And from many years of abusing cast iron, I can say that Lodge makes a quality product.
      Lodge: https://secure.lodgemfg.com/storefron...

      1. Use your roasting pan, cover it with aluminum foil. The foil (or cover on your dutch oven) helps prevent evaporation and the exposed meat from drying out.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Alan408

          Thanks everyone, I feel far less neurotic about fashioning a braising vessel now. Very helpful. I think my roasting pan will work nicely, judging from your comments.

          1. re: likaluca

            Three tips: (1) use heavy-duty foil; (2) crimp it REALLY TIGHTLY around the edges of the roasting pan; (3) keep the oven temp very low (i.e., 185 degrees) and let the ribs cook all day -- 8 to 12 hours. If the foil is crimped tightly enough you will not smell the ribs as they cook, and that's the idea: you want all the goodness to stay INSIDE the roasting pan. When you take it out of the oven and slit the foil, THEN you'll smell all the deliciousness. MMMmmmmm.

        2. jfood does not own a LC and braises all the time in a large straight sided calphalon and it woprks great.

          But let's go basic, basic, basic if you have nothing.

          Buy a tin foil roasting pan and some reynolds turkey sized roasting bags. Do everything you need on the stove and add all the ingredients to the bag that is placed in the pan. Close with the plastic thing and make some whole in the bag on top so it does not explode. into the oven and presto cheapo braising.

          jfood makes brisket like this all the time. Trick is to

          a) place the pan on a cookie sheet so it does not bend when lifted
          b) place the bag in the pan with the opening up, then place the meat and veggies into the bag, then carefully add the hot braising liquid.
          c) make sure you place a hole or two in the top so it does not explode.

          it's still 78 degrees in CT so braising os still a couple of weeks away.


          2 Replies
            1. re: FrankJBN

              seals in the juices (with a little escaping through the wholes. Acts like an amoeba shaped braising pot.

          1. Understand your financial reluctance. When you buy a Le Creuset, buy the ' dou feu' model with the deep cavity in the top and the biggest one they make. Dou feu means gentle fire; You fill this with ice cubes when starting, and refill if necessary. l have braised many things over 8 hours and never had to refill the top. Mine is 9-10 years old and one of the things l would save if house were on fire;

            3 Replies
            1. re: Delucacheesemonger

              I guess I don't understand the concept. How can you put ice in in a 350 degree oven and have it not melt

              1. re: FrankJBN

                It HAS to melt - that's how it moderates the heat, by melting and then evaporating. You could just start with water, but that would need to be replenished sooner.

                Never used one of these myself; I have two oval enameled-iron pots, NOT Le Creuset, that will comfortably hold about a six-pound pork butt or whatever. I can brown the roast in it on the stove-top, then pour in the liquid and cover it and put in a slow oven. Lovely process, nice result. One pot, a very heavy Chinese-made one, I bought new from Cost Plus for $18; the other, a nice Belgian piece, I got from an antiques mall for $24. Those places are my favorite sources for good cheap cookware.

                1. re: Will Owen

                  Thanks 'Will Owen' for answering the ice cube question. If your Belgian pot says 'descoware' on bottom, this is the precursor for Le Creuset and all my covered cookware with exception of Dou Feu from Le Creuset is from them. Most are from fifties and sixties and last for generations, even more durable than Le Creuset, tougher to get to chip and so easily cleanable, they are wonderful

            2. Save half your money and get the Mario Batali coated cast iron that Sur la Table carries (I believe they have it there; I got mine at a non-chain). It's seriously half the price and I've been very, very happy with mine. I have seen no noticeable flaw or anything that made me wish I went for the Le Creuset.

              1 Reply
              1. re: katecm

                Agree. I do love my Le Creuset pieces (I have one of their huge heavy dutch ovens for roasting and its indispensable) but when I needed to braise some short ribs a few weeks ago I decided to try the Batali one as it was half the price and looked well made / very heavy pan! So far have had nothing but good experiences with it and I use it constantly.

              2. Do you have a deep heavy large fry pan with a cover? 4 inches is fine.
                Then make do with the roasting pan, as long as you can get adequate coverage from your heat source and that your heat doesn't just get too hot in one area. I would watch it carefully for this way.

                8 Replies
                1. re: chef chicklet

                  My problem with the large roasting pan is that there is more area, so the broth with be less deep, and then you have a higher chance of cooking the braising liquid differently or at a higher temperature without intending to. Just saying be careful not to dry it out. Even the ribs will cook faster.

                  1. re: chef chicklet

                    that's why the bag work. right size bag keeps everything together

                    1. re: jfood

                      You don't end up "boiling" the stuff though?

                      1. re: chef chicklet

                        still gotta regulate the heat in the oven just like a $500 LC. slow and long baby.

                        1. re: jfood

                          I cook mine in a (non-$500) LC for exactly 3 hours in the oven using the Balthazar recipe, which I adore. I check every 45 minutes or so and turn the ribs and add more liquid if necessary, which it usually isn't. I set the heat at whatever the recipe says and they turn out perfect everytime - well, perfectly delicious. How would you get all of the liquid out of the bag to make the sauce. I'd just worry about putting all of that hot liquid in a bag ....and taking it out again. I've made these at my mother's using a caphalon pasta pot that just fit in the oven and that worked out pretty well - tough not idea.

                          1. re: MMRuth

                            the $500 was tongue in cheek, sorry.

                            getting the liquid out is pretty easy. open the bag and use tongs to remove the meat. then yopu either slice open the bag and the juice is caught in the aluminum pan or you lift the bag fro the bottom and the juice goes into the aluminum pan. not a biggie at all.

                            1. re: jfood

                              Ah - but you haven't seen what a klutz I am in the kitchen - immediately saw sauce all over the kitchen floor with dog running over to lick it up (grin).

                              1. re: MMRuth

                                love it. first time jfood made B&J chocolate ice cream. got the whole thing together and placed in the top freezer to cool down before placing in machine. opened the freezer and the ice cream mix fell, hit the corner of the and shot everywhere. black lab became brown lab, chocolate all over the white counter top and jfood looked like a chocolate statue.

                                Mrs jfood did the appropriate thing. she burst out laughing, jfood looked at his shirt covered in chocolate and did likewise. Both little jfood ran in from the play room and saw their dad and now four people hysterical laughing and a dog licking away.

                                Quite a kodak moment.

                2. Aluminum foil!

                  After browning the solids, lay out a big piece of heavy-duty aluminum foil on a baking sheet. Put the solids on the foil, crimp lengthwise, then crimp one end. Make a "mouth" of the other end, deglaze your browning pan with the liquids, pour them into the "mouth," and seal.

                  Voila! A braising vessel that is custom-fitted to your food and costs about a quarter.

                  1. I've got a similar question. Anyone know what size dutchoven would be appropriate for about 4lbs of ribs? The John Besh recipe that is popular around here calls for 4lbs and an oven that "is at least 5 quarts." When I made jfood's recipe I used around 4lbs of (boneless) ribs in a 7.25qt dutch oven and it seemed crowded to me. If the meat winds up being in two layers isn't the bottom layer more of a stew? Is there much of a difference (stew vs. braise)? Would it be better to use more/less liquid? Stir every so often? Not worry so much about such things :) ?

                    Thanks for any input. New to braising and just trying to wrap my head around the technique a little more.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: white light

                      the meat should be submerged with maybe a little bit poking though the surface of the liquid