An Introduction to Braising
January 31, 2012 § Leave a comment
For me, braising begins with ox-tail.* Specifically, my Easy Ox-Tail Stew. But I’ll get to that in a bit.
To braise food, you need a heavy pot (with a lid), liquids, aromatics, and some cheap meat. Why cheap? Cheap means low quality. I don’t want people to know that I’m cheap! Lies. By “cheap” I mean affordable. Have y’all seen the prices of various cuts of beef? It’s getting ridiculous.
Some affordable cuts include skirt steak, short ribs, brisket, and ox-tail. These cuts are cheaper because they contain a lot of connective tissue. As the meat is braised, the connective tissue breaks down and tenderizes the meat, making it quite flavorful. Yes, there is a bit more work needed to make the meat fork tender. It’s worth it. And yes, the total cooking time can seem a bit daunting. It’s worth it. Trust me.
The braising process is simple: sear off the meat, remove from the pan, add in the aromatics, deglaze the pan, put the meat back in the pan, add more liquids, simmer, cover, leave for 3 hours, eat.
Simple. Easy. Delicious. True story.
Easy Ox-Tail Stew
4 large ox-tail sections
1 Tbsp butter
1 large onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes
water or beef stock
salt & pepper
Get out your Dutch oven. Heat to medium. Toss in the butter. Add the ox-tail. Sear each side, making sure to achieve a crusty brownulation. Remove the meat to a plate. Toss the onion into the Dutch oven. Add a little salt and pepper. Cook til translucent. Add in the garlic. Cook for a minute. Add in the red wine (I usually use a normal size glass, but you could add more or less.) It’ll be steamy. And smell like alcohol. Scrape up all the crustiness on the bottom of the pan. It’s flavor. Add in the diced tomatoes. Nestle the ox-tail into this mixture. Add in the stock (or water) until the meat is nearly covered. Bring to a low simmer. Keep the stove heat on medium-low or low. Do not turn it to high heat. Put the lid on. Let it hang out for 3 or 4 hours, until you can pull the meat from the bone with only a little pressure from a fork. Serve one ox-tail section per person, with an equal amount of the tomato gravy. This goes well with steamed rice or egg noodles.
*Don’t be frightened of ox-tail. I know it looks a little strange. Some people can get a little squeamish when they see bones in the meat. Bones are flavor goldmines. Also, I know it’s called ox-tail, but it’s really cow tail. And the best part about eating ox-tail is getting to suck out the bone marrow. I swear on my French Press. It’s meatalicious. If this fact grosses you out, man up. Or just use boneless short ribs. Those work fine here too.