Wet Cooking. A Method For Those With No Time.


Wait, but I thought brasing generally took several hours? Yes, you are correct. It takes several hours.

Braising (from “braisier” in french), is by far one of my favorite cooking methods. Starting with moisture, there are a myriad of reasons for why I am in love with wet cooking. I am unaware of a cooking method which leaves you with as juicy and flavorful results as braising does. But before I continue my ramble lets talk about the science behind it. Traditionally, to braise, you must first sear your main item and then half-submerge it in a liquid (hopefully a flavorful liquid), cover your pot, pan, dutch oven or whatever it is you’re using and stick it in the oven until its done. Simple enough right? Thats what I love about it second most: its so simple!

Most people are purists and stick to the rules, but I like to bend them a bit. Unless Im braising vegetables (which by the way is a great way to eat delicious vegetables along with a sauce) such as eggplant or even fruits like cantaloupe, I never ever sear my protein. At least not first. Chefs will go on and on about how searing is crucial in locking in moisture and so on. Lies, all lies. Think about the process of searing a protein. You are applying high heat to a moisture packed muscle. What is the first thing to turn into its gaseous form? Not the protein strands, the water! That “hizzzzzz” you hear when your steak hits the hot skillet is water evaporating very quickly. Kind of counterintuitive to sear a protein if your going to braise it to retain its juiciness, don’t you think? My advice: if it is protein your braising, don’t sear. If you really can’t have a piece of protein without that nice browning on its surface, then sear AFTER you braise. Sprinkle a little salt and sugar (pepper if desired) on your protein and get a hot pan going. Once its very hot, sear both sides. Vegetables and fruits on the other hand can be seared before braising. Most vegetables and fruits have so much moisture that searing them wont really affect your end result, it will however bring a nice deep charred flavor to your dish.

Recap. What you need: A main item (veggies, protein, fruit, or anything for the matter). A flavorful liquid. Not required, but its like a math equation, the more (flavor) you add to your braise the greater (flavor) the result. And finally, accoutrements. Any vegetables, nuts, or flavor additions you may want to add. Throw all of these in a pot, pan, or anything that can fit the contents and remain covered. Add only as much liquid for it to cover half the height of your main item, with the exception of braising leafy greens.

Youre probabbly wondering how this method is for people in a hurry. Well, it’s because of the last step. Throw it in the oven. This step is about to become your best friend. If you love eating hearty healthy meals but have trouble finding the time to cook them, the temperature control in your oven is your ally. Lets state a scenario. You wake up in the morning to go to class, work, work out, or do whatever activity takes up your day. While you cook or eat breakfast, you throw that short rib, some cranberry juice, and some cipolini onions into a pan (don’t forget the salt) cover it, and stick it in the oven. What, maybe 4 mins 5 mins tops? Here is the only hard step, figure out when you’re coming back home. That time span dictates your oven temperature. If youre going to be gone for eight hours, no matter what your cooking set your oven for the lowest temperature available, if less then go up a bit. The highest temperature you want to braise at is 300 degrees F. Higher than that and you’ll enter the roasting temperatures, and I don’t know what to call that. A wet roast maybe?

Amazing huh! 5 minutes of work and planning, without counting the hours of arduous work your oven performs, and you come home to a delicious fresh cooked meal. Toss up a salad and dinner is ready. Braising is especially good for any protein with lots of collagen. The low temperatures and long time will break down the collagen and give your sauce a luscious texture and delicious hearty flavor. I almost forgot about that! You, when braising, not only have a tender piece of whatever but also end up with a delicious sauce and some cooked accoutrements. That is the 3rd reason why I love braising so much. So, when in a hurry, braise away.

Recomendations?

Short Ribs+Red Wine+Balsamic+Onions+Carrots+Thyme

Vegetarian? Eggplant+Pomegranate Juice+ Serrano Peppers+ Mint

Dessert? Seared Cantaloupe+Marsala or Dry Sherry+Rosemary

 

Enjoy!

 

 

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