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A question about oven braising

CindyJ Feb 24, 2012 11:20 AM

Assuming the temperature of a braising liquid cannot exceed 212 degrees, and assuming that the braising liquid covers the meat that's being braised in a covered pot, what is the rationale for setting the oven at a temperature higher than 212?

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  1. monavano Feb 24, 2012 11:23 AM

    Time. You certainly can braise that low, and I've done it overnight. But braising at 300-325 works over a shorter period of time. I like to do this when planning on refrigerating my braise overnight.

    3 Replies
    1. re: monavano
      j
      jvanderh Feb 27, 2012 10:08 AM

      Yup. If you put a large pot of food in a heavy dish in a 200 deg oven, it takes hours to get to 200 degrees. When I'm roasting a chicken, I like to start it in a hot oven, and turn the oven down when the chicken gets to 100 deg inside, or so. It's the best of both worlds.

      1. re: jvanderh
        mcf Feb 27, 2012 05:35 PM

        I always bring stuff to a boil on the stove before braising in the oven... always brown the meat first, too, and sweat the veggies.

        1. re: mcf
          hotoynoodle Feb 28, 2012 06:43 AM

          also this.

    2. hotoynoodle Feb 27, 2012 11:00 AM

      as long as i have time, i set the oven at 250 and braise away. the liquid in the pot is still not boiling at that setting.

      1. cowboyardee Feb 27, 2012 05:18 PM

        Liquids lose a lot of heat from evaporative cooling. Functionally, this means that if you put a hot liquid in a 212 degree oven, the liquid temperature during cooking will still be a while below 212. Heat transfer from air is also not very fast, so if your braising liquid is cool to start off, putting it in a 212 degree oven will make it take a long time to warm up. Of course, you can account for this to some extent by heating the braise on the stovetop before putting it in the oven. But keeping the oven hotter than the boiling point, in a basic sense, is mostly done to keep the liquid temperature high (but not boiling).

        Additionally, keep in mind that many or most people braising a meat don't fully submerge the meat. This means that the cooking is dictated in large part by the temperature of the moist air surrounding the meat. This air and steam can be above 212. Normally, the temperature of the surface of the meat is often below 212 as well, because the meat's temp is lowered by evaporative cooling, just like the liquid. Still, a higher oven temperature will make the meat cook at a higher temperature.

        The other thing about higher oven temperatures is if the oven is hot enough, it can heat parts of the braise well beyond 212 by radiation. This can develop more complex flavors and even some browning. Technique and liquid level make a big difference in this respect. In this thread, I discussed how you can brown and crisp meats during a braise:
        http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/805158
        But even using another technique in a hotter oven can generate a bit of the same effect without using the method I described in that thread.

        1 Reply
        1. re: cowboyardee
          CindyJ Feb 28, 2012 06:34 AM

          Thanks, Cowboy! That was just the info I was looking for.

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