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Braising Basics

 

A slow-cook method made for meat

The key to transforming a tough cut of meat like chuck roast, pork shoulder, or brisket into a fall-off-the-bone, flavor-packed meal is braising: searing followed by a long simmer, with a liquid like broth or wine, in the oven or on the stovetop. Browning the meat first creates a crust that locks in flavor and moisture.

Charleston, South Carolina, chef Shaun Brian has some tricks for getting the perfect sear, starting with the right cut of meat. Brian serves braised short ribs with roasted carrots at the Holy City restaurant, Parcel 32. He recommends asking a butcher to prepare short ribs “osso buco-style” (that means there’s one bone in the center with the meat wrapped around it and tied with twine). Start with the short ribs at room temperature and season liberally with salt and pepper—really press the seasoning into every surface of the meat. Brian also sprinkles the meat with a blend of canela, allspice, and cloves influenced by his upbringing in Saint John, part of the US Virgin Islands. (If you can’t find canela, try looking for it under its other name, mexican cinnamon.) Go easy on the spice mixture here, as it can burn while searing the meat, but a light coating will create a bark that locks in flavor. Resist the urge to cover the pan—you don’t want the meat to steam. Instead, use a splatter screen to avoid a mess. Be sure to get the meat browned on every surface.

Once you’ve moved on to making the sauce, don’t be shy with the spice mixture. It’s crucial to the flavor of the dish, Brian explains. He finds cooks lose out on flavor by straining the vegetables out of the cooking liquid to create the sauce. Instead, he blends them all together, and the vegetables act as a natural thickener. It’ll take about three hours for the short ribs to cook; you’ll know they’re done when the meat easily pulls apart with a fork—this is a no-knives-necessary kind of dish.

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