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Best vs. Worst cuts for Braising? Anyone have a list?

This is my first ever posting of a topic so apologies if this question has been asked and answered already elsewhere.

I would like to get advice on which cuts of meat you always braise, and which cuts/roasts that you NEVER do so as they would get tough. A list of Yes and a list of Never for this technique and why.

I recently did a lamb shoulder according to the recipe that Will Owen posted from LA Times (I think) and it was a revelation. It has changed the way I look at roasting - esp. in terms of the length of time (long). I poured over many posts that touched on this topic. I want to learn a lot more about this - the meat was the best we EVER had and I am keen to eat like this more regularly!

I think I understand that shoulder is always good to do braising due to the connective tissue/collagen that break down under long slow cooking and contribute to the buttery softness of the meat. And I also have read that other cuts are lacking in this. Is there a list that shows which cuts have a lot of the connective tissue that would lend themselves well to braising? I have seen references here and there to tri-tip as being good for this but maybe only a few hours. That made me confused as I thought the longer the braise the better the meat. I seem to recall one post mentioning chuck roast also??

I would welcome your experience in terms of type (pork, beef, lamb), cut of meat, size/weight, and how long at low/slow produces the best meat. Right now I am thinking that the longer the better in all cases (of cuts appropriate for the braise).

I would be grateful for any and all advice.

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  1. The only stuff I've had bad results braising is extremely lean meat. Like boneless skinless white meat comes out dry and weird, but boneless skinless thighs are fine. I think you only need a little bit of fat/connective tissue (maybe I could even have made it work with the breasts if I added some fat to the braising liquid). Time is very flexible, but I braise at least until the connective tissue and fat have dissolved. Size of the meat shouldn't matter either.

    1. You are right, shoulders are always good. Loin or tenderloin of anything is lean and not good for braising. Fattier = better for braising, leaner = worse. Pork belly, for example is fabulous! As are short ribs of beef. Dark meat poultry is better than white meat for braising. The best resource to learn about braising is Molly Stevens' wonderful book, All About Braising, which we did as a COTM awhile back, master thread here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/3301... You can likely get a copy of the book from your library, or there are often cheap used copies available for sale on-line. Worth it!

      1. Chuck roast of beef is great for braising. You are right, you want to use a cut that has a fair amount of fat and connective tissue. So think about cuts that come from well-used muscles of the animal. Shoulders and legs immediately come to mind. One of the best braised dishes I have ever eaten was made with lamb neck slowly braised for seven hours.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Euonymous

          I second lamb neck for braising. An easy way is in the crockpot. Just brown the neck pieces, remove from pan and saute some onions and garlic with some crushed tomatoes and a little wine. Add to crockpot and cook on low for 6 hours. It makes a wonderful pasta sauce.

        2. Thx everyone for the great advice. I'll try to get a copy of the Molly Steven's book GretchenS.

          1 Reply
          1. re: twokiwi

            I think you will be glad you did! And I should have said, welcome to the board, we hope you will post lots more, we all learn so much from each other! (And isn't it exciting when a whole new method of cooking opens up for you, I felt the same way with braising....)

          2. This has been gone through a few times.

            Beef anything chuck. Boneless chuck roast, 7 bone chuck roast, Cross rib chuck roast.
            Beef but less popular. boneless shoulder, eye of round, rump roast. These cuts will braise but don't have the connective tissue that chuck does.

            Pork Boston butt. boneless shoulder.
            pork less popular loin.

            Chicken legs and thighs.

            11 Replies
            1. re: Hank Hanover

              Eye round belongs on the Do Not Braise list.

              1. re: Karl S

                Twokiki: always listen to Karl S. The only way with eye round is the Cooks Illustrated low heat roast method which you can find discussed here: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6089...
                Eye round, like any loin, is simply too lean to get the unctuous quality you fell in love with. Yes, you can braise it but it will be dry and shreddy.

                1. re: GretchenS

                  I think the best way to use eye of round and rump roast is oven roasted and then sliced for sandwiches especially open-face hot beef sandwiches with plenty of gravy poured on top.

                  1. re: GretchenS

                    Thanks for that reminder. I haven't made it yet altho so many rave about it.

                  2. re: Karl S

                    I wouldn't normally braise eye of round or rump roast but, apparently, they can be braised. On another thread, a chef was insisting that his restaurant braises eye of round and it was very popular. Someone actually went online and checked the menu and there it was eye of round. so I included it as possible but not popular.

                    1. re: Hank Hanover

                      Lots of things are possible, but braising is about the worst thing that can be inflicted on the eye of round. Too many people treat the round cuts as interchangeable for braising, and they really aren't. I've had it braised, and eye round sucks braised - except for people (who do exist) who like a piece of tough, overcooked lean beef that is moistened entirely by pan sauce or gravy. Those are usually the same people who like London broil grilled well done.

                      1. re: Karl S

                        Karl, I agree that eye of round is certainly not as good for braising as other roasts which I pointed out in my post.
                        Clearly, there are respected people that seem to disagree with you and braise “Eye of round” roast.

                        For example Food Network kitchens at this linkhttp://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes-and-cooki... said “Beef cuts most suitable to braising are: chuck pot roast, brisket, rump roast, short ribs, flank steak, skirt steak, eye round roast, top round roast, shanks, chuck eye roast, arm pot roast, shoulder pot roast, cross rib roast, blade roast, bottom round roast and 7-bone pot roast. Veal cuts best suited to braising are: shanks, neck, rib chop, short ribs, arm roast, blade roast, shoulder eye roast, arm roast, round steak, rump roast, breast, riblet, kidney chop and sirloin steak. Cuts of pork that are best braised are: blade roast, picnic roast, sirloin chop, country style ribs and trotters. Lamb is especially good braised, shanks, rolled breast, shoulder roast, shoulder arm chop, neck, blade chop, riblets and sirloin chop are the cuts most used. And the legs and thighs of poultry are good braised, whether chicken, turkey or duck.”

                        And here is Sara Moulton’s recipe Italian braised pot roast featuring “eye of round”

                        Here are 2 more published recipes that seem to be very highly rated that feature braised “eye of round” roast.

                        Crock pot eye of round rated very highly by viewers on food.com

                        Another eye of round braised on food.com rated very high by people that had cooked it.

                        Finally this chef responded on the “Pot Roast Help, Please" chowhound thread at http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7282...
                        “ChefLeo ColonialInn stated “Good morning-
                        I have a pot roast recipe that we use in my kitchen. Usually it remains top secret, but we get so many requests for our pot roast we do have this spec available for those who want it. Enjoy, Leo.
                        Colonial Inn Fork Tender Pot Roast
                        Chef Leo Kremer ©
                        It is best that you make your pot roast 1 day ahead of time so you can slice it nice, if you cut it hot it will fall apart (this is a good thing for eating it though
                        )1 pc Eye round of the round choice beef, about 4 lbs.
                        1 ea. Diced onion large
                        1/2 ea. Heads diced celery
                        2 ea. Diced carrots
                        3 ea. Cloves minced garlic
                        - Preheat your oven to 300 degrees
                        - Sear the eye round in a hot heavy bottom pan, le cruset will work very well for this, until it is brown and caramelized.
                        - Take it out and caramelize the vegetables on medium heat. 10-15 mins
                        - Put the tomato paste and garlic in and cook with the vegetables for 3 minutes.
                        - Return the meat to the pan. Put the beef broth and canned tomatoes in and cover with water until the liquid reaches ¾ the way up the sides of the meat. Add the bay leaves
                        - Braise at 300 degrees for roughly 4-6 hours, turning the meat over every hour. Braise it until it is fork tender. (Cooking time can depend on thickness of the meat.
                        - Served the pot roast with the braising sauce. Add some salt and pepper to taste, thicken with cornstarch mixed with water.
                        The keys to great pot roast are to sear the meat well, get it nice and brown on the outside. Next you want to get good color on your vegetables. The most important step is to be patient. If you wait the 4-6 hours you will be cutting your pot roast with a fork, so remember good things come to those who wait. One more suggestion, wait until the end for your salt and pepper. As the liquid reduces it may become too salty if you add the salt too early.
                        This goes great with some buttery, creamy mashed potatoes, steamed baby carrots, and a warm family discussion.”
                        If it simply shouldn’t be braised and should be put on the “Do Not Braise” list, why are so many people braising them? And with apparent success.
                        Again, in my post, I pointed out that the eye of round roast was not as popular to braise as some of the other roasts. I will stand by my statement.

                        1. re: Hank Hanover

                          I know that people have recommended it and acknowledged as much. I think their recommendations are flawed in this regard. And I am not alone in that view of the treatment of eye round in particular. Yankee Pot Roast as served even in venerable places can involve a poorly chosen piece of meat like eye round; living in New England, I have witnessed this sad state of affairs. It survives as a practice because it has liminal associations with the way people's mothers and grandmothers cooked, not because it was more delicious than using more appropriate cuts. (Chefs in restaurants catering to Classic American Food do not win points for fighting American's liminal associations in that way.)

                          And I don't consider the Food Network a good resource. At all. It's simply a ghost of what it used to be way back when more capable people were part of the picture. That said, I respect Sara Moulton; I just disagree with the choice of cut.

                          But again, remember that the are people who LIKE and PREFER dry tough lean meat moistened only by sauce. For them, braised eye round tastes great. But that's not the usual audience at Chowhound.

                          1. re: Karl S

                            Karl, Hank, Gretchen: thanks for the great responses and links too. My problem was that I did not know which cuts of meat are 'marbley' and have lots of connective tissue - respectively. When my untrained eye looks at a cut of meat I guess I have been seeing the fat on the outside, not realizing that inside it was lean, lean, lean and dry, dry, dry.

                            that is, until I tried this braised lamb shoulder.....((insert heavenly choir here..)

                            anyway - everyone here has given such great advice that now I know exactly what to go for.

                            many thanks for the well researched and reasoned comments to my question !


                          2. re: Hank Hanover

                            Did you see some of those highly rated recipes you posted? One has you put italian seasoning, french onion soup mix, etc. w/ eye round into a crockpot and cook away. The other uses cream of mushroom soup, beef bouillion,...into a crockpot w/ the eye. I can't imagine either of those turning out with melt in your mouth delicious beef. Just because it's on the internet and gets good reviews doesn't mean it's a good recipe. I saw a recipe on Allrecipes.com that was highly rated--boiled noodles, tomato soup, cooked ground beef, velveeta cheese layered and baked.

                            I have yet to have a decent eye round that was braised, seared or not. With my TMJ, I haven't been able to eat most of it. Add me to the votes of not using it for that. In the thread with ChefLeo, he was asked about the leanness of eye round but never responded.

                    2. This is just my handy simple rule for beef (again, stress "my", so there's going to be disagreement), but here goes:

                      The worst cuts for braising are any cuts you would want to eat as a "steak".

                      All other cuts of beef are good for braising.

                      14 Replies
                      1. re: ipsedixit

                        My handy simple rule is even simpler! If it's cheap, it's good for braising. If it's expensive, do not braise. Works like a charm. =)

                        1. re: aching

                          Amen, my fellow 'Hound. Amen.

                          (Although lately I've seen rather expensive short ribs ...)

                          1. re: aching

                            I have to smile about the cheap vs. non-cheap for braising. I am so meat-dumb that I don't even really know what is expensive or not - comparitively. I have heretofore been doing a lot of shopping at places like Costco - prices always seem cheap relative to others - but their selection is not so great for specific cuts ( I have never seen a shoulder at my costco, for example)

                            However, I have recently moved to a larger city that has several very good butchershops (yes, with actual butchers) - a real treat to find during the epoch of the big box stores and so I found a lamb shoulder and then started my love affair...

                            1. re: twokiwi

                              I couldn't say how the prices here in LA compare to the rest of the country, but here I find the cutoff is around $8/lb.

                              Braising is my absolute favorite way to prepare meat. You didn't ask for recipe recs, but here are a few that I love, if you're interested:

                              PORK: Note that this recipe calls for way too much soy sauce - cut by at least half.

                              BEEF: The first recipe here is my go-to brisket recipe for Hanukkah. The second is great for dinner parties.

                              CHICKEN: I always use boneless, skinless thighs in this recipe.

                              Happy braising!

                              1. re: aching

                                If I am going to braise something and I have a choice, I would want the bone in version.

                                Braising is low slow cooking. Sort of like when your making stock. The bone would add to the collagen being deposited into the braising liquid.

                                1. re: aching

                                  Aching - thanks for these great links. I can't wait to try the port and beef esp. - my husband is Czech and pork for them is like oxygen for everyone else on the planet - so my pork has GOT to be amazing or it just isn't like mama's (know what I mean ???)

                                  1. re: twokiwi

                                    You're welcome! Everyone I've made it for thinks that pork recipe is amazing - and it works equally well with lamb. I was just reminded by another thread, I forgot to post my favorite lamb braise:


                                    Yum. This thread makes me want to get to braising right away, but it's still so warm in LA!

                                2. re: twokiwi

                                  Chuck is beef shoulder.

                                  Sometimes you see reference to a 7-bone chuck roast. That '7' shaped bone is a cross section of the shoulder blade.

                                  1. re: paulj

                                    Thx paulj for the education on that. I did not know that chuck is beef shoulder. Somehow I always thought it was more from the hind end. I always avoided it in the past - no more.

                                  2. re: twokiwi

                                    I find good braising meats at Costco--chuck roast, blade in or not, pork shoulder. I obviously wouldn't turn my nose up at a good butcher but you can't beat the prices at Costco.

                                    1. re: chowser

                                      chowser - I agree with you - but at my Costco I have never seen pork shoulder - may have overlooked the chuck roast tho' - that was all before I learned about braising - so now I'll be looking for it there.

                                      1. re: twokiwi

                                        Did you look for Boston butt? It comes in a two pack. Mine doesn't have the pork shoulder picnic but does carry Boston butt.

                                      2. re: chowser

                                        I've never found bone-in chuck roast at my Costco(s). But, yes to pork shoulders, but they're whole ones in the 15# range. I usually cut one in half, freeze one half as is and make sausage with the other.

                                    2. re: aching

                                      I usually get my chuck roasts for between $1.99 and $2.99 per pound. If they are higher than that, I wait for a sale. Pretty much the same with pork loin. Chicken legs, thighs or leg quarters are usually cheaper than that, around $1.00 per pound.

                                  3. My late father-in-law looked like he wanted to disown me for this, but tri-tip is wonderful braised, as it should be (it's the "tafelspitz", the most highly-prized cut for Viennese "boiled" beef). Here in SoCal of course no purist would do anything but barbecue it over red oak; I just looked it over and said, "Damn, that looks like braisin' meat to me," and did it. Utterly delicious. When I mentioned this to Steve he leaped from his deck chair and cried "You POT-ROASTED TRI-TIP???" and stomped into the house. Okay, it's good done Santa Maria style too, but it makes a hell of a pot roast. Sorry, Dad...

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: Will Owen

                                      I join Will Owen in his heresy. What I said was "Damn, that looks like brisket to me". So I made corned beef using one and pastrami with another. Better than brisket. Good for true barbecue (low and slow) as well. Best if you buy an untrimmed cut and leave some of the fat on.

                                      1. re: Zeldog

                                        Not only that, but the untrimmed ones are cheaper! Thus getting back to ipsedixit's rule...

                                      2. re: Will Owen

                                        Will if you did it, then I know it was worthy !! I'm adding tri-tip to my list

                                        1. re: Will Owen

                                          Tafelspitz = yum! But to me, it's more about the broth and pot veggies than the meat, which itself tends to be a little on the dry, bland side. Hence the horseradish mayo and/or gravy (I think) it sometimes comes with.

                                          1. re: ChristinaMason

                                            Regardless of what the purists think, it's got to be very hard to cook meat totally by simmering ("boiled" is a bit of a misnomer) and have it come out really flavorful, at least the bland cornfed stuff we buy in most markets. I think a well-aged chunk of grassfed steer might be a different story, but the tri-tip you get from Big Fat Saver will fit none of those categories. Proper browning and then slow-braising with minimal liquid, however, will do the trick nicely.

                                            I was mentioning the Tafelspitz connection only by way of indicating that the cut has historically been used in moist cooking; I eventually did convey this to Dad, but as far as he was concerned the only cuisines that mattered were French, Chinese and Californian. Though his own forebears were German, he had no respect for the cuisine.

                                        2. I agree with most of the other posts here in terms of cuts suitable for braising. This site will give a good list of what to braise: www.foodsubs.com/meats.html

                                          Click on the subdivisions for info on a specific cut

                                          1. Forget the list. What braises well are meats that are high in connective tissue and fat. That's all you need to know. Chicken thighs not chicken breasts. Chuck, shoulder, short ribs, brisket not eye of round, round or London broil. Lamb shanks not chops. Pork butt/shoulder not loin

                                            Even if you can't remember the name of the cut, just look for meat that has a fair amount of fat and connective tissue running through the meat.

                                            If you decide to brown the meat, brown quickly to develop color. A little flour can really help here. Don't over cook during the browning phase. Also for braising don't use that much liquid. You are not making a soup or stew. Half way up the side of the meat is fine.

                                            Happy braising.

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: scubadoo97

                                              I agree. The connective tissue melts into collagen and gives the braising liquid a great mouth feel.

                                              1. re: scubadoo97

                                                thx for the tips scubadoo97 - esp. the part about the flour - good idea - I didn't think about that.

                                              2. Don't think my favorite braising meat has yet to be named, so thought I'd throw my pair o' pennies in, too.

                                                Ox tail is pure heaven! Also, while I'm here, goat meat is wonderful with a low, slow braise.

                                                2 Replies
                                                1. re: mangetoutoc

                                                  They bbq goat in Luling, Texas. I think they put it in a pit and slow roast it.

                                                  I have heard of but never tried oxtails. They are sorta like short ribs. They used to be cheap but have been discovered and the price went up. I just can't justify buying short ribs. They are $3.97/lb and I can buy a chuck roast for $1.99/lb. It has a lot higher meat to bone ratio.

                                                  1. re: mangetoutoc

                                                    goat meat? Wow - if I can find it I will definitely try it - thx mangetoutoc for letting me know it is good for braising.

                                                  2. I love braised veal shank and Ossobuco alla Milanese is my favorite preparation. Not only do you end up with fork-tender meat that pulls away from the bone but you get to enjoy the marrow as well. It is a stunningly simple dish to prepare considering the magnificent meal that you end up with. The best tip I can give is to use hind shanks that are cut thick.

                                                    Great recipe here:

                                                    3 Replies
                                                    1. re: CDouglas

                                                      Thx for this great link CDouglas - actually I think it was your posting of your lamb shoulder experience that got me started down this road. Changed the way I look at cooking. I know you got it from will Owen who posted something from LA Times ( hope I got that story right) - but the key here is that you posted your experience so well described, that I knew exactly what to expect. And it was AMAZING - changed the way I look at cooking.

                                                      And now I can't wait to try this Ossobuco recipie.

                                                      thx and Cheers!

                                                      1. re: twokiwi

                                                        Although I would love to take credit for the lamb shoulder posting you are referencing it was not me.

                                                        I am glad you like the site. I stumbled across it recently and was amazed I had not heard of it before.

                                                        Enjoy the Ossobuco.

                                                      2. The cuts that braise the best are generally the parts of the animal that get a lot of work. Imagine if you're a cow and had to move around on all fours all the time that way - your shoulders would get a lot of work!

                                                        Having said that, the following are my favorite cuts to braise (in no particular order), regardless of the animal. And if you think about it, they all make sense:

                                                        Ribs (Short)

                                                        As for what cuts NOT to braise, I think of it this way - the reason I don't braise a ribeye steak is not because the end result won't be good, it's because I love my ribeye steak!

                                                        1. I've been thinking about braising and why a lot of people say you shouldn't braise a lean piece of meat that doesn't have a lot of connective tissue like round round, rump roasts of beef and pork loin.

                                                          The thought process is that there is no fat, so it will be dry and there is no connective tissue so the collagen won't melt into the braising liquid giving it that unctuous mouth feel we associate with a good gravy. A common conception is the meat will turn out dry and stringy.

                                                          But, clearly, these pieces of meat do get braised and by people that know what they are doing.

                                                          I think I may know why. First, if you overcook any roast including chuck, it will be stringy and dry. No matter what roast, braising will tenderize it and it will impart flavor into the braising liquid.

                                                          The braising liquid will not have any collagen in it but that can be gotten around by adding chicken or beef stock preferably before braising. The braising liquid won't have as much fat in it but most of that is separated out anyway.

                                                          During a 3 hour braise almost all the fat in any piece of meat is going to render out so the braised meat won't have a lot of fat anyway.

                                                          I think it would be critical in a lean roast to keep a very close eye on it and stop braising as soon as it is tender. I suspect that a round roast of some sort is going to be far less forgiving than a chuck roast.

                                                          In conclusion, I think you can braise any tough meat and get a flavorful, tender dish. Is a round roast my favorite? Certainly not. I prefer anything chuck when it comes to beef.

                                                          I concur that the best piece of meat to braise with is a piece with connective tissue.

                                                          8 Replies
                                                          1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                            The issue is the lack of collagen and the nature of the flesh tissues that lack it. A classic problem for newbies is not cooking shoulder/chuck cuts enough - they cook them until they are "done" but not enough to get the melting tender point. That simply won't ever happen with a lean cut like round.

                                                            1. re: Karl S

                                                              Yes. That was a lesson I learned with "Will Owen's pork shoulder roast." Not cooking it to 160 but rather 190. There was a great thread/post quite a while ago about the science of what happens.

                                                            2. re: Hank Hanover

                                                              And why do you prefer the chuck over the round?

                                                              Contrary to your statement "During a 3 hour braise almost all the fat in any piece of meat is going to render out so the braised meat won't have a lot of fat anyway." I believe there is considerable melted and semi melted fat in between the muscle fibers which is why it's juicy and not dry.

                                                              I could be wrong.

                                                              1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                I could be wrong too, scoob. I don't know. I use chuck because I have been taught to. It turns out well. I have also been taught that eye of round isn't appropriate to braise but it seems to be a favorite at ChefLeos restaurant (see earlier posts).

                                                                I was also taught that using good vanilla was critical but cook's illustrated's taste test proved it wrong. I was taught that going outside with wet hair would get me a case of pneumonia but it turned out not to be true.

                                                                Consequently, I wonder if there is something about braising I don't quite understand.

                                                                I think if you braise a rock long enough, it might get tender. Ok Ok just kidding.

                                                                1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                  Okay kidding aside, if you braise a chuck too long it will dry out like a rock :)

                                                                  1. re: scubadoo97

                                                                    yep, this is true. I've done this in a crock pot. I think on crock pots the low setting is hotter than it used to be, but that's something for another discussion.

                                                                2. re: scubadoo97

                                                                  unless it's a very small piece, my braises take more than 3 hours, both for pork and beef, as well as the occasional goat. 5 hours seems more the norm and there is still some fat left in the chunks.

                                                                  1. re: hotoynoodle

                                                                    I do a Will Owen pork shoulder recipe that's browned on the stove top, the initial time in the oven is 450, uncovered for 30 minutes, then 350 covered for the rest of the time. Not only is it beautifully brown and crunchies, it speeds up cooking. I do 8#ers in about 5 hours.

                                                              2. Look, I’m not here to argue with your personal point of view. I’m looking for scientific information. I think there must be something about braising that I or we don’t fully understand.

                                                                Quite frankly, I have never braised an eye of round, a rump roast or a pork loin but there are people doing so with great success. Sara Moulton is not a hack.

                                                                This chefLeo from the Colonial Inn cooks a pot roast with eye of round. He says “we get so many requests for our pot roast (recipe) we do have this spec available for those who want it.”

                                                                Karl S believes
                                                                “There are people who LIKE and PREFER dry tough lean meat moistened only by sauce. For them, braised eye round tastes great. “

                                                                “I've had it braised, and eye round sucks braised - except for people (who do exist) who like a piece of tough, overcooked lean beef that is moistened entirely by pan sauce or gravy.”

                                                                I doubt that is true. I think there are too many people saying they have experienced success.

                                                                As far as being dry, I don’t care what roast you use. If you braise it for 3 hours at 300 degrees, there isn’t going to be any fat left in that roast. If it can melt collagen then it will melt fat.

                                                                I don’t want your personal opinion. Does someone out there know more about braising than most of us? Is there something we don’t know about braising that would explain pot roasting an eye of round roast and people liking it? A lot of the moderators went to culinary school. Perhaps they can shed some light on this.

                                                                7 Replies
                                                                1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                  Well, it is a personal opinion on whether someone likes their eye round braised or not. Many don't, as shown in this thread. But, as you've found many do, just as you'll find many who like Cheesecake Factory or whatever. I'm wondering with Sara's recipe, if someone changed it along the lines because eye round is not the normal cut of meat for that dish. As ChefLeo goes, he's never responded to questions about the cut, and, just because people love it at his restaurant doesn't mean it's great or the best cut to use. I've been to potlucks where people rave about dishes that I can't get down--overcooked chicken breast, overcooked pork tenderloin come to mind.

                                                                  As food science goes, it makes sense that the collagen breaks down and the gelatin improves the flavor/texture of the meat while the fat keeps it tender. Overcook any meat and it won't taste good. But, it's harder to overcook the chuck roast--even on low for hours in the crockpot, there is still a lot of visible and taste-able fat. Eye round doesn't have that.

                                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                                    thanks everyone for contributing to this interesting debate. I am learning so much from everyone's input. Probably the most important thing for me is not to be afraid to try - as I was for many years. For a long time I thought cooking was an art, and I was no artist, and that was why I failed. Then I thought it was a science, and I am definitely no scientist, and that was why I failed.

                                                                    Now, I think maybe it is a blend of both and with Chowhounders help and insight, I am making my way to that magic place in the middle of both...and having success.


                                                                    1. re: twokiwi

                                                                      not an expert on this....but this is what i have learned.....collagen is a protein present in all parts of the body in it's connective tissue....it is is the part that has the function of holding the structure whatever it may be.....thus the name connective tissue?....it will melt at 185 farenheit degrees .....so when the meat, any meat, reaches 185 the meat will begin to fall apart....no more holding power......the trick then seems to be to get the meat, all of it, to reach that temperature without burning it.....
                                                                      so if i am correct, any meat will become tender as long as you heat it up to 185......how slow or fast you get there is another topic....the fat content of the meat i dont think has any effect on tenderizing.....it just makes the meat more 'juicy'......

                                                                      incidentally time will also break down {melt) collagen.....that seems to be the reason why rib eyes, porterhouses, new york etc are made even more tender by aging.......and why they are more expensive cuts

                                                                      i would appreciate if someone corrects me on anything i have said to be erroneous......hope this helps

                                                                      1. re: jaymor

                                                                        i'm not sure of the science behind it, but i don't think this is totally correct. For example, if you put a chuck roast or pork butt in a 400 degree oven until the inside temp reaches 185, it will still be tough. It has to cook slow to be tender.

                                                                        1. re: TroyTempest

                                                                          take it to 205 and it will be tender.

                                                                        2. re: jaymor


                                                                          for what it's worth, this link is an article i found that might say it more completely than i have......there is a lot of variation on the subject out there.

                                                                          a year ago, i oven braised a 5 lb brisket at 325 once , wrapped in foil and sprinkled with one packet of lipton onion and half a cup of water for 3 hours .....i could not believe that it came out super tender and super moist........ since then, i have done 6 additional briskets and have never duplicated that first one.

                                                                  2. The second best braise based dish to make next to Ossobuco is Coq au Vin. Chicken does not get much better than how it turns out from this preparation. If you can find a capon use it and it will elevate the dish beyond your expectations. Like all braises, if you can afford to let it sit overnight and then reheat just to serving temp the next day the results will be glorious.

                                                                    Great recipe here: http://labellecuisine.com/archives/po...

                                                                    11 Replies
                                                                    1. re: CDouglas

                                                                      I would prefer chicken cacciatore over Coq au Vin for the following reasons:

                                                                      The dish was designed for an old rooster and all we have are 6-12 week old chickens in the grocery store.

                                                                      I'm not a big a fan of burgundy.

                                                                      Cacciatore is far cheaper. The recipe you call for requires a bottle of burgundy and a 1/4 cup of brandy. The french farmers wife had burgundy in her basement. We have to pay $10 a bottle.

                                                                      1. re: Hank Hanover

                                                                        Thanks for your two cents but I was responding to the OP. I can and have bought frozen capons in my local grocery store in the 8-10 lb range. I use Pinot Noir instead of jug burgundy to great effect. I don't recall price being a point of contention but again, thanks for weighing in. The lardons alone, or in the case of the recipe I linked - pancetta, elevate Coq au Vin beyond anything cacciatore would hope to achieve.

                                                                        1. re: CDouglas

                                                                          And there's always Coq au Riesling.

                                                                            1. re: paulj

                                                                              or Chuck au beef broth, tators and carrots?

                                                                            2. re: Karl S

                                                                              Coq au rouge de surplus in our household.

                                                                              Where can you find a bottle of burgundy for $10? I only see it for over $20.

                                                                              1. re: chowser

                                                                                When I was a kid you could buy Red Mountain (now Carlo Rossi) jug burgundy for 89 cents per gallon. It's probably up to $5 by now.

                                                                                It may not technically exist anymore. Aren't there laws now that if you call it burgundy, it has to be from Burgundy, France?

                                                                                1. re: chowser

                                                                                  I am so sorry, Chowser. Carlo Rossi Burundy is $10.47 per gallon. I just came back from the store.

                                                                                  Coq au white Zinfandel would be more affordable.

                                                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                                                    pinots from the languedoc can be had cheaply and are serviceable for cooking. there are syrah and grenache blends that are good for this as well. since the rossi :"burgundy" is just garbage valley floor juice i wouldn't go near it anyway.

                                                                                  2. re: Karl S

                                                                                    i actually prefer this to the red wine versions.

                                                                              2. re: CDouglas

                                                                                How can I forget about Coq au Vin de Beaujolais! Tough decision for favorite dish though. I couldn't pick one over the other when it comes to Ossobucco... I read Nigella's recipe and it looks interestingly good. I've made this dish for years and I use a simple pork steak in place of the pancetta. But you know, I like the way Nigella thinks pancetta would certainly be better! Chicken braised in this manner is the most wonderful tasting stuff, its comfort food in the best way. I haven't seen any capons at the markets lately, but will start looking. Until then, I have a large chicken in my freezer and all the right ingredients! Thank you for posting Nigella's recipe!

                                                                              3. What do you think about braising a bone-in leg of lamb? I have successfully braised lamb shoulder, lamb shanks, pork shoulder, beef chuck, short ribs, etc, but I have only ever roasted a leg of lamb. Since the leg is a well exercised muscle, I would think it would be a decent candidate for braising. Also, what is a lamb shank but the lower part of leg? Are shanks only from the front legs? If shanks are such a classic for braising, then why not whole legs? Any opinions?

                                                                                1 Reply
                                                                                1. re: NeilR

                                                                                  Leg of lamb can be braised, but that's not the best lamb cut for braising, and roasted leg is often more to people's tastes than braised leg. It's an in-between cut in this regard.