Braising is a moist-heat method of cooking large cuts of meat from pot roast to leg of lamb to ham. Slow cooking meat in liquid is one of the most common and most ancient cooking methods found everywhere on the globe, from Asia and Europe to North and South America.
The braising liquid is often what distinguishes braised dishes in one culture from another.
For example, soy-based brines infused with ginger, anise, scallions, and garlic in Chinese flavor pots are served sparingly with the finished dish. Rather, the braising liquid is saved and replenished to cook other meats, in a similar way that sourdough starters and yogurt cultures are used.
Most often, however, the braising liquid consists of wine, water, stock chosen to complement the main ingredient, or a combination of any or all of these. The braising liquid is the medium in which all of the flavors of all the ingredients mingle into mouth-filling richness. Generally served with the dish, the braising liquid can range from a thin, soup-like consistency to a rich sauce or gravy.
Braised dishes are ideal for serving comfort food on a large scale or consecutive meals during a busy week. Leftovers, if any, can be frozen in portions for easy on-the-go meals.
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