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Braising basics

kimsalte Feb 4, 2014 01:10 PM

Hi there,

I have justed starting trying to learn to cook, and i found a recipe for braising lamb. I'm using a dutch oven, but it didn't specify if i should use the lid/top (?), where to place it in the oven, and which settings on the oven (Fan, Over and under heating, Under heating..).

Could anyone help me out a bit? What are the default ways of doing it?


  1. j
    JuliaTheJeweler Feb 10, 2014 07:11 PM

    I have been braising venison in Belgian beers lately and the result is outstanding. It's nice to add some carrots and onions for sweetness as well.

    1 Reply
    1. re: JuliaTheJeweler
      toddrhodes Feb 10, 2014 08:49 PM

      Ooooh! I'm doing a Venison roast this weekend and planned to braise it in my new DO. I will have to give this a shot!

    2. s
      Sherri Feb 4, 2014 05:43 PM

      "i found a recipe for braising lamb."

      kimsalte, the cut of lamb used for braising is crucial. Lean cuts like rib chops are not as well-suited as the tougher cuts like shanks and shoulder. Hope that you have great success. Braising is generally a very forgiving technique and open to innovation.

      NB: Molly Stevens' book "All About Braising" might be a good tool for your quest. Good Luck! Let us know how everything turns out.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Sherri
        harryharry Feb 4, 2014 07:16 PM

        All About Braising is a tremendous book - very well written - informative for all levels of experience and the recipes all sound delicious.

      2. TSAW Feb 4, 2014 05:36 PM

        Braising is such a wonderful technique once you get it figured out. I took a class on braising and one tip the instructor gave was to cut out a piece of parchment using the lid as a template. Trim the parchment to be slightly smaller so you can lay it directly on the meat, then cover and braise as usual. This seems to ensure your liquid doesn't ever dry up and keeps the meat super moist. I've found it makes a difference.

        My current favourite braised dish is beef short ribs!

        Best of luck. I think you'll love it!

        2 Replies
        1. re: TSAW
          lamb_da_calculus Feb 4, 2014 06:45 PM

          +1 for parchment lids. Modernist Cuisine actually recommends sealing the pot with kaolin clay around the edges (and then just shattering the clay with a mallet when it's time to serve) but I think actual lid + parchment lid is a more practical compromise.

          1. re: lamb_da_calculus
            magiesmom Feb 4, 2014 07:11 PM

            And really works fine

        2. k
          kimsalte Feb 4, 2014 02:19 PM

          Thank you, just the kind of answers i was looking for. Looking forward to giving it another shot now. :)

          4 Replies
          1. re: kimsalte
            greygarious Feb 4, 2014 03:04 PM

            It is CRITICALLY important that you preheat your Dutch oven well, but not on high heat. If you do that, you'll burn the outside of your meat, and the fond (fond = the brown bits that stick to the bottom and sides of the pot). Preheat for at least 10 minutes, 15 is better, on medium heat. Then add oil/fat and heat until you see the fat shimmering but not smoking. At that point, put in the room temperature meat, which you have patted dry. Do not stir.
            When the bottom surface has browned, the meat will release easily. You cannot rush this step. If the piece of meat sticks to the pan, it's not ready to turn. Turn to brown all sides. Then add the aromatics, seasonings and liquids as called for in your recipe.

            1. re: greygarious
              kimsalte Feb 4, 2014 03:20 PM

              Thank you! I did manage to burn the meat a bit, but i suppose that was because i guessed i should not use a lid on. I will try this the next time. :)

              Great input everyone. Thank you so much for your help.

              1. re: kimsalte
                greygarious Feb 4, 2014 04:17 PM

                I've never seen a lid used during searing. You have to keep an eye on the meat and you can also tell a lot by ear. Once the sizzling sound dies down, you know that there's no more moisture on the part of the meat that's in contact with the bottom of the pot, and it's time to turn the meat.

              2. re: greygarious
                c oliver Feb 11, 2014 04:41 AM

                I braise regularly and have never preheated the way you describe.

                @OP, you may want to see if your library has a copy of Molly Stevens' book "All About Braising." Great resource.

            2. sbp Feb 4, 2014 01:47 PM

              After it's done, remove the meat. Strain the liquid, put it in a plastic take out container or two, and refrigerate. When cold, you can just peel all the fat off the top.

              Reheat the sauce, and reduce as needed, then add back the meat/vegetables.

              1 Reply
              1. re: sbp
                C. Hamster Feb 4, 2014 03:45 PM

                Or use a gravy separator

              2. monavano Feb 4, 2014 01:33 PM

                General rules:
                Season and brown meat
                Add mirepoix and other aromatics, and build braising liquid with stock/wine/water etc.
                Return meat to cooking vessel and cover. The braising liquid should come up about halfway, and the lid should be heavy and tight fitting.
                Cook in middle oven at at lower temps, in the 225-325 range, depending.

                3 Replies
                1. re: monavano
                  fldhkybnva Feb 4, 2014 02:11 PM

                  Agreed, I like to get a really good sear. Give it time to brown really well.

                  1. re: fldhkybnva
                    chefj Feb 4, 2014 03:48 PM

                    And deglaze the fond thoroughly

                  2. re: monavano
                    C. Hamster Feb 4, 2014 03:45 PM

                    What monavano said

                  3. e
                    escondido123 Feb 4, 2014 01:17 PM

                    Default would be lid on so fan would make little difference and you want to maintain even heat so put it in the middle of the oven. You would not use enough liquid to cover the lamb, but you need to check periodically to make sure the liquid hasn't all evaporated. Some recipes have you uncover it toward the end for browning and to reduce the liquid to more of a sauce. Hope that that helps.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: escondido123
                      MamasCooking Feb 4, 2014 06:31 PM

                      Sounds like what I do too. Results are luscious 100% of the time.

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