Sometimes, great things happen when you combine the best of two techniques. This is the case with combination cooking. As the term suggests, combination cooking combines two techniques you have already learned: moist and dry. Two major combination techniques are braising and stewing. Braising and stewing involve both a dry and a moist cooking process. The first step for both cooking methods is usually to brown the food using dry heat. Then, the food is completely cooked by simmering the food in a liquid.
Cooking food using a combination technique is especially useful for tough, but flavorful, cuts of meat. The combination cooking process makes the meat more tender. It is also an excellent way to prepare large pieces of less-tender meat.
Braising is a long, slow cooking process. It can make tough cuts of meat more tender. Meat is first seared and the pan deglazed before the moist cooking technique is used. To deglaze means to add a small amount of liquid such as stock or water to a pan to loosen brown bits of food after searing or sauteing. An additional amount of stock, sauce, or water is added, and the food is cooked on top of the range or in the oven.
During cooking, braising produces a very flavorful liquid. The flavors extracted, or drawn out, from the food become highly concentrated.
Flavorful Liquid Braising liquid should be strained before it can be reused for sauces. Why do you think this is?
Imagine braising a pork loin. The juices from the pork are mixed with the braising liquid. The braising liquid takes on the flavor of the meat's juices.
Braised foods are always served with the cooking liquid. You will want to strain, thicken, and add salt, pepper, or other spices to the liquid before you serve it.
^^ Begin by searing the food in a frying or roasting pan.
^^ Remove the food from the pan or push it to one side. Add mirepoix or vegetables that are appropriate to the preparation.
Q Cook the vegetables and deglaze by adding a small amount of liquid to the pan. Stir to dissolve the browned bits of food that stick to the pan. Return the seared food to the pan if you removed it.
^^ Add enough liquid, such as stock or sauce, to cover no more than two-thirds of the food. Cover the pan, if desired. Place the pan in a 350°F (177°C) oven, and cook the food slowly until it is fork-tender. Turn the food every 20 to 30 minutes. Braising can also be done on the rangetop over low heat.
Stewing is another combination cooking technique. However, stewed foods are completely covered with liquid during cooking. Cooking time for stewing is generally shorter than for braising. That is because the main food item in stew is cut into smaller pieces before cooking.
Follow these steps to stew foods:
1. First, sear the food in a pan over high heat. Tender cuts of meat should not be stewed or they will become tough.
2. Completely cover the food with liquid.
3. Bring the stew to a simmer and cook until tender.
4. Add vegetables, if desired, part of the way through simmering the main food.
This will ensure that the vegetables will not be overcooked when the main food in the stew is fully cooked.
are the differences between braising and stewing?
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