Praise the Braise

So you're stuck with the wrong cut of meal, and it look about as tender as rawhide. How do you salvage it? Braise it, of course.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel
So you're stuck with the wrong cut of meal, and it look about as tender as rawhide. How do you salvage it? Braise it, of course.
Corbis/Click Photos
Corbis/Click Photos

Remember coming home from school to the smell of deep, fragrant meat slowly simmering in its sauce? As opposed to the now-popular methods of pan-frying or stewing, good ol’ braising has made a comeback to the kitchen in a stellar way, not just because of the incredible burst of flavour from the melt-in-your-mouth meats, but also the multiple health benefits of this method.

Bring on the Collagen

More collagen means healthier hair, skin and nails; and that is one of the many reasons why sautéing has fallen out of favour compared to braising (not just because the latter is that much more yums). The slow cooking process and moist heat break down the connective tissue within the meat, giving rise to naturally produced collagen. And, that’s not the only source of collagen – braising your meat means that the bone involved in the process slowly releases its inherent collagen, too. The end result? Tender, juicy meat that just falls off the bone, soaked in glorious, collagenrich gravy.

Baby Got Back

Even if you’re a noob in the kitchen, or simply want to take advantage of cheaper cuts of meat, there’s practically no kind of cut nor meat that braising can’t salvage. It may take a little more time than anticipated, but you’ll definitely be rewarded, especially if your ingredients include baby-back ribs. Slurp. Another great upside? Nothing gets burnt, and no carbon means that you’re at less risk of cancer. Hooray!

Hold the Fat

Now, there are many health benefits to be derived from braising, but all of them will be for naught if you follow the old-school route of tossing in leftover pieces of fat, butter and all that jazz. The new and improved way of braising makes use of herbs, spices and juicy tomatoes, carrots and cabbage to make the gravy extra thick and flavourful. If in doubt, look to olive oil to replace butter, and use the bones you would normally toss out, instead of random scraps of fat lying about.

Braise Buddies

Looking to plate up restaurant-worthy dishes? Kick your braised meats up a notch by pairing them with these delish ingredients.
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Wine is an excellent braising liquid, making for a rich,  decadent broth. It’s also packed with polyphenols!

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Not only do they add umami flavour to the dish, mushrooms are also an additional source of protein.

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Whole apples don’t just look amazing in the pot, they also add sweetness to bring out the flavour of dark meat.

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