Braising is a process of slow cooking tougher cuts of meat in liquid in order to add flavor and to moisten and tenderize the meat. This technique is also known as pot-roasting. In a beef cut such as a chuck roast, there is a pattern of connective tissues and thick marbling that makes the meat tough if it is not cooked with a method that melts these tissues. Dry heat-cooking methods, such as oven roasting, do not allow the internal temperature of the meat to become high enough to break down the fat and connective tissues. If the roast is left in the oven long enough to break down the tough tissues, then the outer portions of the meat become overcooked, dry and tough.
Braising/pot-roasting is a much more effective means for breaking down the tough fibers than any dry heat cooking method. The internal temperature of the meat reaches a level that is sufficiently high to melt the connective tissues and fat. The moisture in the pan prevents the outer portions of the meat from drying out.
The beef cuts that benefit the most from braising/pot-roasting are tougher cuts from the round, flank, plate, and chuck. Tender cuts from the loin and rib should be reserved for dry heat cooking methods. The chuck cuts are usually preferred for braising/pot roasting because of their flavor and because of the amount of marbling in the meat that melts during the cooking process, basting the meat with moisture. Among the chuck cuts that make excellent pot roasts are the chuck eye roast, the top blade chuck roast, and the seven bone roast which gets its name from the prominent bone in the roast that is shaped like a “7”.
Braised beef is one of hubby’s favorite dishes, following the adage “the best way to a man’s heart is through his stomach,” I make sure that I cook this for him once in a while. So here’s a good recipe, though it’s almost 3 hours in the making, it’s all worth my effort seeing him gobble down 2 plates of rice!
Preparation : 45 min Cooking : 2 h
Ingredients (serves 4):
– 1 1/4 lb stewing beef, cubed
– 1 1/4 lb carrots, peeled and sliced
– 7 oz smoked bacon, diced
– 2 onions
– 2 garlic cloves
– salt, pepper, herbs of Provence (dried)
– olive oil
– 2 cups red wine
– 2 cups bouillon (or water + 1 bouillon cube)
Brown onions on high heat with some olive oil until tender.
Add meat and stir until well browned on all sides.
Add salt (lightly if bouillon cube is used), pepper and a good pinch of dried herbs.
Mix, then add remaining ingredients : bacon, carrots, garlic, wine and bouillon.
Keep on high heat just until it begins to boil, then simmer for 1 1/2-2 hours over lowest possible heat, stirring occasionnally.
If necessary add a little water to prevent sticking.
(with thanks to http://www.recipetips.com/kitchen-tips/t–383/braising-beef.asp and http://www.foodland.gov.on.ca/english/vegetables/carrots/recipes/brsd-beef-carrots.html)