Braising uncovered in oven?
I'm in the middle of making David Lebovitz's carnitas. The recipe calls for browning pork chunks and then braising them in the oven uncovered. It's pretty much too late for me to turn back but they are halfway done and they seem brown and tough. I've never braised anything uncovered - is it common? I'm hoping they will soften up towards the end but I'm thinking I should have followed the recipe but covered the pot as in a traditional braise. Thanks.
Sounds like baking to me. Haven't heard of the technique. Closest thing is Tom Colicchio's short ribs, baked or broiled the day after braising.
I haven't made this particular recipe but I have done uncovered oven braises in the past. As I read Lebovitz's recipe I see the purpose is the same as in my brasies and that is to have the liquid all but evaporate... that will come later in the cooking after the meat is shredded. The cooking juices are absorbed into the meat as it cooks. Just make sure there's always some liquid in the pan till the very last minutes, but you really just want a small amount left before you shred.
There are two basic techniques for carnitas - cook the whole time immersed in fat, or simmer till nearly tender in liquid (water, some seasonings), and fry at the end. Often, for example, recipes call for letting the cooking liquid boil away, and fry in the remaining fat.
In your case, I would turn the meat several times during the braise, so all the surfaces have a chance to brown, while saying as moist as possible.
The ideal is chunks of meat that are tender and moist on the inside, well browned and a bit crisp on the outside.
Thanks for all the responses! Well the recipe is probably fine but I left it in the care of my husband and it got a little dried out! Right before I left the house it was looking pretty tender. I added a little more water and told him it was almost done. I just got home and see that it's quite dry. It's got pretty good flavor and I will shred it which should help.