There are quite a few ways to cook meat that require a fair amount of attention. One that doesn’t is braising. Once the pan goes into the oven, you can forget about it for a few hours and watch some football. Chef Jerry Pellegrino loves braising and says there is no better way to help inexpensive cuts of meat over-deliver than to braise them.
Braising is great for those less honored cuts of meat: shoulders, briskets, chuck roasts, tri-tips, and shanks. Conventional cooking does not do a whole lot to make these cuts appetizing. There is just too much toughness to over come. But the gentle process of braising, which is by definition long and slow, breaks down the tough, fibrous parts and produces a succulent, tender dish.
Braising is the art of cooking meat in a liquid, preferably a good savory liquid with ample acidity. Various broths blended with vinegars and wines, generously amplified with herbs and spices make great braising liquids.
Using a deep flat bottomed baking dish, you will want to first sear the meat in hot oil, then pour in your liquid. Do not totally immerse the meat. Covering it half-way is fine. Since you will be cooking this covered, you can allow hot moist air to help in the process.
Jerry has sent us this classic recipe fir braising a lamb shank, one of my all-time favorite dishes.
The Art of Braising
Chefs Amy von Lange & Jerry Pellegrino
Braised Lamb Shanks
6 lamb shanks
salt and pepper to taste
½ cup olive oil
2 onions, chopped with skin on
3 large carrots, cut into ¼ inch rounds not peeled
10 whole cloves of garlic
1 (750 milliliter) bottle dry red wine
1 (28 ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes with juice
1 (10.5 ounce) can beef broth
5 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
Sprinkle shanks with salt and pepper. Heat oil in heavy large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Working in batches, cook shanks until brown on all sides placing them on a plate when done.
Add onions, carrots and garlic to pot and sauté until golden brown, about 10 minutes. Stir in wine, tomatoes and beef broth. Season with rosemary and thyme. Return shanks to pot, pressing down to submerge. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Cover, and simmer until meat is tender, about 2 hours.
Remove cover from pot. Simmer about 20 minutes longer. Transfer shanks to platter, place in a warm oven. Strain the solids and return the liquid to the pot. Boil juices in pot until thickened, about 15 minutes. Spoon over shanks and serve.