What Makes Braising so Special?
First things first, let’s clarify the difference between braising and stewing.
They’re similar because they involve cooking meat in liquid, slowly. They both create magic with less tender beef cuts, tenderising and adding flavour along the way.
They’re different in the size of meat pieces and the quantities of liquid used. Braising uses larger cuts of meat partially covered in liquid, whereas stewing involves smaller pieces of meat completely covered in liquid, à la boeuf bourguignon.
So let’s talk braising. Ever wondered what’s actually happening over those long slow hours of cooking?
The first thing that happens is at the browning off stage.
Browning off beef in the pot with oil triggers a reaction between the sugars and proteins in the beef, creating those complex browned flavours and rich colours. It’s important here to not overcrowd the beef in the pot, otherwise it will steam instead of brown.
The next part is once the liquid is added (make sure its something nice and savoury such as wine or stock). The collagen, responsible for holding the muscle fibres together starts to dissolve, turning into gelatin. Good evidence of this change is the gel the braising liquid forms after refrigeration.
At the same time, the slow gentle heat starts to denature (or unfold) the beef proteins, causing them to rearrange in structure and form new links between each other. This process happens well below boiling point, with some proteins starting this process as low as 40 °C. If the liquid gets too hot and starts to boil, you’ll find that these proteins in their restructuring also start to shrink, making for a tough eating experience. Hot tip- manage the braising temperature for tenderness, but also for food safety. Keep it above 60°C and below boiling point.
And the best Black Onyx primal cuts to take advantage of braising:
Brisket (see more on this cut and how to cook it in our blog post here)
Cheek. Who can resist a good beef cheek dish!
Need a refresher on your cuts? Take a look at our cuts chart here:
Article written by admin