Since the advent of time, we have eaten meat and plants like any other omnivore in the world, but eating raw food would not be a good choice due to our fragile bodies. So, we started cooking stuff; we cooked ground, and wet wheat, vegetables, and meat. Whether it was wild birds or buffalos, we have always had the skill to cook them to feast our eyes and taste buds. However, in this modern century, we cannot expect basic survival level cooking of random things; we need the expertise of ingredients and cookery.
Eating beef has always been a part of our main course, and it may not be an exaggeration to say we cannot live without beef, but sadly we cannot consume raw beef. So, we decide to cook beef, and cooking beef comes in all sorts of methods, including grilling, braising, stewing, roasting, broiling, stir-frying, barbecue, and skillet. Among these methods braising stands out the most.
What is Braising?
Braising means frying the content – be it vegetable or meat – then cooking it slowly with a little liquid in a closed container. When we are cooking beef, some part of it is hard to chew. Those parts are often cooked gently in a liquid until transformed into a tender, succulent, fall-off-the-bone masterpiece.
Pot roasting is often synonymous with braising, but since many pot-roasting dishes don’t add liquid, braising is a preferred word for this method. The term ‘braising’ comes from the French word “braiser,” which means a cooking method that uses both moist and dry heat but is usually used for roasting meat.
The process of braising requires two steps. First, the meat is cooked till brown in an oven or skillet. Then the liquid mixture is added according to the chef’s recipe. After all the mix and the beef is placed in a pot, the pot is placed on a burner with a low flame. The meat is allowed to cook until it is tender, and its consistency is that of a liquid.
History of Braising
Braising has existed for a long time, but it became popular in the 19th-century cookbook. The origins of braising are elaborated in The Kitchen Encyclopedia, 12th edition published in 1901 as:
“Braising is a method much used in France and is a cross between boiling and baking.”
As mutton was more common in Europe than America in those times, it proves that braising was a dish that came from those areas.
How to Make Braised Beef?
This tasty and tender beef is easy to prepare. Even an inexperienced person will have no problem with making it. You can cook braised beef in a skillet or a pot on a burner. Also, you have the option of using a pot that can be placed in an oven for heating.
The ingredients you will need for braised beef are:
- Some beef chunks
- A few tablespoons of oil
- Chopped carrots
- Black pepper
- Chopped onions
- Garlic cloves
- Tomato paste (Optional)
- Chopped celery
- 2 cups of stock or broth
- Bay leaf
Cooking Braised Beef
The cooking process is simple. All you need is basic cutting, chopping, and mixing skills.
For meat, you can use chuck roast, bone-in, oxtail, or brisket, as these are hard portions of meat that are perfect for braising. Cut the beef chunks into small portions (smaller than a clenched fist) and season them with salt and pepper.
Let the spices sit in for a few minutes, and then add more salt and pepper and adjust the amount according to your taste.
When the meat is thoroughly seasoned, heat some vegetable or canola oil in a pan or pot. These have higher smoke points which help protect the meat from burning. Place the chunks on the oil and sear them for about 1 minute on each side until they’re nice and brown. You may need to do this in batches to avoid any burnt or uncooked meat. Take the cooked chunks out temporarily.
Next, we will add all the vegetables. Note that the type of vegetables you use will define your braised beef. Using harder vegetables is a better option to avoid getting mushy vegetables after a long session of heating.
Mix the onion, celery, and carrot chops with some mashed garlic cloves. You may also add tomato paste to make your dish more reddish and help blend the flavor.
You will now need to deglaze the pan with a liquid. For this purpose, you can use wine, tomato juice, broth, or a stock that can be homemade or store-bought. Add the preferred liquid into the pan with vegetables and scrap off the residual at the bottom for flavor. Add water to the pan to prevent the meat from drying out and keeping it wet.
Adding seasoning to your dish will make it more interesting, especially if you are eating beef with bread or cereal. Put rosemary, bay leaf, thyme, salt, and pepper into the deglazed liquid. Make sure to homogenize the seasoning in the liquid for even flavor.
Add the meat chunks into the pan and mix it. Make sure the meat is fully submerged to avoid meat fibers from becoming dry and stiff. Cover the pot, reduce the heat to simmer, and cook for 2-4 hours until the meat is tender. Mix the liquid occasionally to avoid any chunk of meat from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
When the meat is tender and easily breaks away, it is ready to serve with mashed potatoes, polenta, bread, or pasta.
Braised Beef Recipes
Most braises follow the same basic principle of frying and boiling the meat. But depending on the type of seasonings or vegetables you add, you can have diverse braised beef tastes. It is not just the seasoning but using different types of beef that can affect your dish outcome.
Osso buco is a cross-cut shanks braised recipe that includes vegetables garnished with broth or white wine and served with polenta. Like this, there are many other special braised dishes made from beef, such as Bo Kho, Chinese, Mexican, and Korean braised beef.
Health Benefits of Braised Beef
Braised beef is an excellent source of protein. By adding different vegetables and seasonings, you can change the mineral and carbohydrate content of the dish. Overall, it’s a heavy and calorie-rich dish that should not be eaten too often.
Braised beef is a way of making tender and delicious beef; you get to fry and boil the meat. The option of picking your seasoning and vegetables allows you to go creative and pick whatever you want. Moreover, when served correctly with side dishes, it can mesmerize your family and guests with its rich flavor and texture.