When the weather outside is frightful, it’s time to braise. An old and simple technique, braising is something we cannot recommend highly enough if you’re living in a winter wonderland, looking to impress your holiday guests with minimal effort, or just plain hungry. At its most basic, braising is a process in which a large, typically tough piece of meat is first seared, then cooked with a small amount of liquid at a low temperature for a long time until it becomes meltingly tender. And that’s it. The fun comes from the endless variations of flavors, ingredients, meats, and vegetables that can be braised. To get started, and to help make the kitchen smell more delicious than perhaps you ever imagined it could, here are five wildly different braising recipes:
Beef Brisket Braised in Red Wine Wrapped in Bacon by Padma Lakshmi
A twist on a classic Italian dish called “brasato al Barolo” made in the Langhe region, this dish is perfect served with some creamy polenta or a serving of mashed potatoes with some of the gravy from the beef drizzled over it.
Texas Red Braised Beef Short Ribs by Matt and Ted Lee
In Texas, “red” is archaic slang for chili con carne. In this recipe, the chili is meatless, more like a Mexican mole, and then we use the meatless “red” as a braising liquid for cooking beefy, tender short ribs until they’re falling from the bone.
Vietnamese Braised Scallops by Molly Stevens
Braising seafood, meats, and even tofu in a thick caramel sauce is a classic Vietnamese technique, referred to as “kho.” The dark caramel sauce, made with sugar, fish sauce, and shallots, is not at all sugary, but instead full of spicy-salty nuances—the perfect foil for sweet, meaty sea scallops.
Endive Braised in Crème Fraîche by Daniel Boulud
Since endive is a bitter vegetable, pair it with cream and cheese to tame the assertive flavor. The ham adds a salty meatiness and also makes the dish more substantial, though you can leave it out if you’d prefer.
Slow Braised Belly Pork with Soy, Ginger, and Garlic by Simon Hopkinson
Braised belly pork given this slow-cooking treatment ends up as a wondrously tender and melty piece of meat.
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