Braising is the method of cooking meat at a low temperature for a long period of time in a tightly sealed container like a Dutch oven. This method of “moist-heat cooking” is forgiving and slowly cooking the meat allows for tough, lean (and often cheaper) cuts of meat to break down and become tender and juicy. I love a good braise because you really can’t mess it up. With this “hands-off” method, as long as you sear the meat first, then add it to a tightly covered oven-safe pot, combine it with aromatics and liquid and cook it for a long time at a low temperature, you don’t run the risk of overcooking as you would using other methods.
The oven keeps your house warm and the end result is the perfect comfort food. Tender meat served over things like pasta, polenta, rice or risotto are exactly the types of meals I crave when the temperatures drop. From beef or pork, chicken to lamb or duck and even vegetables (just choose vegetables you would typically sauté like onions or carrots) – you name it, I’ll braise it! Braised recipes also typically make good leftovers.
Dutch ovens are best used when braising because they can go from stovetop to oven and both retain heat and distribute it evenly. The heavy, tight fitting lid keeps the steam and liquid in while the ingredients slowly cook. With braising you will notice that the liquids don’t reduce much, it’s because there’s nowhere for the steam to go. If you’re looking to start braising I’d recommend one of these: 7-quart Staub Dutch Oven or Le Creuset (both are more of an investment purchase) or this Lodge one (a much more affordable option).
Check out some of my favorite braise recipes here: