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Feb 4, 2014 01:10 PM

Braising basics

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?


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  1. 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

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

    2. 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

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

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

            4 Replies
            1. re: kimsalte

              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

                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

                  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

                  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. 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

                  +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.