Q What is braising and what cuts of meat are best suited to being

By Margaret Cox,2014-11-25 15:16
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Q What is braising and what cuts of meat are best suited to being


    Food Demonstrations with Flair

    Instructor: Staci Joers



Q: What is braising and what cuts of meat are best suited to being braised?

    A: Braising is a slow, wet cooking method that blends flavors and softens tough textures. The best cuts of meat for braising are those with a lot of connective tissue, that is, the sinew (gristle) and fat that hold the bands of protein together in meat. The connective tissue, during a long, moist cooking process, breaks down into gelatin, becoming soft in texture while retaining its juiciness. Many of these cuts would be horribly tough and unpalatable if they were cooked quickly or with dry heat, since high temperatures make the connective tissue hard and chewy. Braising develops deep, layered flavors and a thick, richly-textured sauce.

    Beef cuts most suitable to braising are: chuck pot roast, brisket, rump roast, short ribs, flank steak, skirt steak, eye round roast, top round roast, shanks, chuck eye roast, arm pot roast, shoulder pot roast, cross rib roast, blade roast, bottom round roast, and 7-bone pot roast. Veal cuts best suited to braising are: shanks, neck, rib chop, short ribs, arm roast, blade roast, shoulder eye roast, arm roast, round steak, rump roast, breast, riblet, kidney chop, and sirloin steak. Cuts of pork that are best braised are: blade roast, picnic roast, sirloin chop, country style ribs, and trotters. Lamb is especially good braised, shanks, rolled breast, shoulder roast, shoulder arm chop, neck, blade chop, riblets, and sirloin chop are the cuts most used. And the legs and thighs of poultry are good braised, whether chicken, turkey, or duck.

    Most of these cuts are less expensive, which makes braising a flavorful, satisfying, and inexpensive dinner. Braises are especially easy to prepare if you use a crock pot. Braises are usually served over or with a starch, whether a rice pilaf, couscous, barley, risotto, polenta, wide egg noodles, or with biscuits. A mixed salad with sharp vinaigrette balances the meal. Q: What's the purpose of cooking with wine if all the alcohol burns off?

    You want wine, which produces different nuances in taste, for flavor more than alcohol. It's why you'd use different vinegars like cider or sherry. Think of all the flavors of wine and their differences: Zinfandels can have a raisin-like quality; a lighter-style white wine can be apple-like and citrus-flavored. These flavors contribute to the flavors of a sauce. If you change the wine, you could have a sauce that tastes different.

    Alcohol also brings out different qualities and flavors in things too. Take chocolate truffles. If you make them with dark rum, a different range of flavors come out than if raspberry liquor were added. There are some general rules to cooking with wine, such as red wine with meat and white wine with fish, but they are always broken. Try experimenting with different kinds of wine and see what kind of flavors you get. For example, if you're making Coq Au Vin, try a Riesling if you've always used red wine. For those who are wine-phobic, water or an acidic substitute called verjus can be used.


General rules for cooking with wine are:

    ; Dont spend a fortune on wine to cook with.

    ; Be sure its a wine youre comfortable drinking. If you wouldnt drink it, why would you

    cook with it?

    ; Be wary of cooking wine, which can be too salty or sweet and have a low alcohol content.

    ; Measure alcohol before use. You dont want too much in a sauce.

    ; Sweet alcohol and salty things dont mix well. Imagine Grand Marnier on chicken.

    ; Balance out flavors to make sure that a dish is not too acidic. Duck or steak can hold up

    flavors of complex and acidic red wine, but not white-fleshed fish.

    ; Reduce wine first and then add other ingredients later for sauce.

    ; Do not dilute a sauce or stew with more wine because it will leave a raw wine taste.

    ; Dont pour an open bottle of wine near an open flame. It can ignite, so dont be cavalier.

    Q: What is deglazing and why do we do it?

    A: Deglazing is using a small amount of liquid (usually enough to cover the bottom of the pan by no more than ?-inch) to loosen the bits of caramelized food at the bottom of a pan after it has been cooked or partially cooked. The liquid is added to the pan directly after the item being sautéed is removed from the pan. If the liquid being added is high in alcohol, the pan should be removed from the heat before the liquid is poured in. A spatula or wooden spoon is used to scrape up the little attached bits. The heat should be on high, to reduce the amount of liquid and further intensify the flavors.

    The caramelized food particles, called fond, are highly flavorful, since they are concentrated juices from the cooked item. As they absorb the liquid, usually, stock, wine, broth, or water, they mix with the flavors in the liquid, making a perfect compliment for the cooked item, since they have the same source.

    The liquid used to deglaze should either augment the flavor or contrast it. Usually with a mildly flavored food, like chicken or fish, the deglazing liquid is a similarly flavored stock or broth. If the food has stronger flavors or is high in fat, such as duck or sausage, the liquid added will be tart or acidic, like wine or citrus juice, which will cut the fatty flavors. Either flavor will be the base of the sauce used for the dish. Any juices that pool in the bottom of the dish the food should be added back to the pan and reduced with the deglazing liquid for additional flavor. After the fond has been scraped up, additional seasonings, such as salt and pepper or a handful of chopped herbs or spices can be added. The sauce, once reduced by at least half, can then be finished with bits of cubed cold butter, stirred in after the pan has been removed from the heat. The butter will thicken and enrich the sauce.

    On a more practical level, deglazing allows the pan to be scraped, which helps cleaning it later.


Fahrenheit to Celsius Conversions


    250? F 120? C

    275? F 140? C

    300? F 150? C

    325? F 160? C

    350? F 180? C

    375? F 190? C

    400? F 200? C

    425? F 220? C

    450? F 230? C

Note: A dash or a pinch is generally considered to be less than 1/8 teaspoon.

    Some recipes use additional instructions that require a specific amount of the ingredient. For example, a recipe might request 1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed, or 2 heaping cups flour.

Firmly Packed

    With a spatula, a spoon, or your hand, tightly press the ingredient into the measuring cup. You should measure as much of the ingredient as you can fit into the measure.

Lightly Packed

    Press the ingredient into the measuring cup lightly. Make sure there are no air pockets, but do not compress it too much either.

Even / Level

    Measure the amount precisely, discarding the entire ingredient that rises above the rim of the measuring cup. The back of a straight knife works well for this.


    Do not flatten out the ingredient to the top of the measuring cup. Instead allow it to pile up above the rim naturally, into a soft, rounded shape.

Heaping / Heaped

    Pile as much of the ingredient on top of the measure as it can hold.


    Sift with a strainer or sifter before measuring to ensure ingredient is not compacted and that there is no other foreign substance in it.


Food Safety Temperatures


     Ground Meat & Meat Mixtures

    Turkey, chicken 165? F

    Veal, beef, lamb, pork 160? F

     Fresh Beef

    Medium Rare 145? F

    Medium 160? F

    Well Done 170? F

     Fresh Veal

    Medium Rare 145? F

    Medium 160? F

    Well Done 170? F

     Fresh Lamb

    Medium Rare 145? F

    Medium 160? F

    Well Done 170? F

     Fresh Pork

    Well Done 170? F


    Chicken, Whole 180? F

    Turkey, Whole 180? F

    Poultry Breasts, Roasted 170? F

    Poultry Thighs, Wings 180? F

    Duck & Goose 180? F


    Fin Fish Cook until opaque and flakes easily

    with a fork Shrimp, lobster, crab Should turn red and flesh should

    become pearly opaque Scallops Should turn milky white or opaque

    and firm Clams, mussels, oysters Cook until shells open; discard any


Source: United States Department of Agriculture, Food Safety and Inspection Service August 1999


    While cooking can be satisfying and enjoyable, it can also be disastrous if safety is not observed. Check our tips for kitchen safety and remember to always be aware, especially when children are helping out.

    1. Avoid leaving food that is cooking unattended for a long period of time, if at all. If using a timer, have it with you at all times to remind you that you have something brewing in the kitchen. 2. Turn handles of pots and pans inward and not sticking out.

    3. Avoid reaching over the stovetop when cooking and watch your sleeves.

    4. Keep curtains, potholders, towels, and any other combustibles away from cooking areas. 5. Do not put knives or other sharp objects into a full sink. Someone could reach in and accidentally get hurt.

    6. When processing hot liquids in a blender (such as sauces and soups), make sure the blenders

    lid is back on, then cover the lid with a towel and your hand, before proceeding to blend. Also, do not fill the blender more than half-way.

    7. Launder your dishtowels and sponges frequently to get rid of bacteria or simply replace often. 8. Keep children and pets away from appliances when cooking.

    9. Keep appliance cords as short as possible to avoid accidents such as tripping or knocking the appliance over.

    10. Have a small fire extinguisher and a first aid kit readily accessible. Also make sure that smoke detectors are placed throughout your house.

    US measures are classified as either dry measures or fluid measures. Fluid measures are measures of volume, while dry measures are measures of weight. However, do not concern


yourself too much whether the ingredient you are measuring is dry or fluid. Simply use the

    measure that is specified in your recipe. US recipes are almost always in terms of volume.

    Measurements and Conversion Table


    ? teaspoon 1 ml ? teaspoon 2 ml ? teaspoon ? tablespoon 4 ml 1 teaspoon 1/3 tablespoon 5 ml 3 teaspoons 1 tablespoon 1/16 cup ? oz 15 ml 6 teaspoons 2 tablespoons 1/8 cup 1 oz 30 ml

     1 ? oz 44 ml 1 jigger 12 teaspoons 4 tablespoons ? cup 2 oz 60 ml 16 teaspoons 5 1/3 tablespoons 1/3 cup 2 ? oz 75 ml 18 teaspoons 6 tablespoons 3/8 cup 3 oz 90 ml 24 teaspoons 8 tablespoons ? cup 4 oz 125 ml ? pint 32 teaspoons 10 2/3 tablespoons 2/3 cup 5 oz 150 ml 36 teaspoons 12 tablespoons ? cup 6 oz 175 ml 48 teaspoons 16 tablespoons 1 cup 8 oz 237 ml ? pint

     1 ? cups 12 oz 355 ml

     2 cups 16 oz 473 ml 1 pint or 1 pound

     3 cups 24 oz 710 ml 1 ? pints

     25.6 oz 757 ml 1 fifth

     4 cups 32 oz 946 ml 1 quart or 1 liter

     8 cups 64 oz 2 quarts or 2 pounds

     16 cups 128 oz 1 gallon or 8 pounds

    The 4 Basic Flavors of Food


Why do salt and other flavor enhancers affect the flavor of food?

    The main theories are

    1) they act to specific receptors that when activated allow a better fit of the flavor they are complimenting or

    2) they act to increase the time the primary flavor spends on its specific site. Flavor enhancement per se only relates to sweet, salt, sour and bitter but we perceive it as the whole food.

    The role of salt is less defined, and how the four primary flavors act to compliment is not well defined. But since all four do activate specific mechanisms their action is related. Sweet and bitters activity occurs on the surface of the taste buds while sour and salt elicit their response after they have been transported into the taste bud cell. All of them trigger an ionic cascade (potassium ion ) that eventually triggers the nerve response. Salt could very well function in enhancing the ionic cascade.

    Taste begins on the tongue, a muscular organ located inside the mouth. The tongue is attached by skin and muscle to the floor of the mouth. The skin on the top surface of the tongue contains about 10,000 tiny chemical-sensing bodies called taste buds. These organs are located in the tongue’s visible bumps, called papillae. Each papilla holds between 1 and 200 taste buds. Inside

    a single taste bud are about a dozen taste cells. There are four basic taste sensations: sweet, sour, bitter, and salty. We experience taste when food molecules are dissolved in the mouth’s saliva. The molecules are then small enough to come into contact with taste hairs poking out of the taste buds. The meeting of food molecules and taste hairs causes a reaction that stimulates nerves at the cell’s root, which send nerve impulses to the brain.‖

    Bitter Indicating or inducing one of the four basic taste sensations that is mediated by end organs in the circumvallated papillae, is produced chiefly by organic compounds (onions are a good example), and when strongly developed is markedly unpleasant and lingering.

    Sour Causing or characterized by one of the four basic taste sensations produced chiefly by acids.

    Sweet Pleasing to the taste; indicating or inducing one of the four basic taste sensations that is usually felt as pleasing and agreeable.

    Salty Of, seasoned with, or containing salt.

    Experienced cooks cook by taste and can identify these 4 flavors and which is missing in a particular dish and make adjustments. Great food always has a balance of these 4 flavors and when a recipe says ―adjust seasonings‖ it is referring to these basic 4.

    Basic Cooking Methods


    1. Moist Heat- heat conducted to food by liquid

    A. Poach- to cook in liquid that’s hot but not bubbling (160-180 degrees)

    1. good for eggs, fish, chicken

    2. food can be partially or fully submerged

    B. Simmer- to cook in a liquid with gentle bubbling (185-200 degrees)

    1. most foods cook in liquid are simmered

    C. Boil- to cook in liquid that is bubbling rapidly (212 degrees)

    1. liquid never goes above 212 at sea level

    2. boiling reserved for certain vegetables and starches

    3. high heat would toughen the protein in eggs and meat and break delicate foods D. Blanch- to cook items partially in water or fat

    1. 2 methods

    a. Method #1- place item in cold water and bring to a boil, simmer

    briefly and cool in ice water. This method is used to dissolve blood,

    salt or impurities in meats and bones

    b. Method #2- place item in rapidly boiling water and return the water to

    a boil and then cool item in ice water. This method is used to set color

    and destroy harmful enzymes in vegetables or to loosen the skins of

    tomatoes, peaches etc.

    E. Steam- to cook foods by exposing them directly to steam

    1. food is usually on rack above boiling water

    2. Food can also be tightly wrapped and cooked in steam formed by its own

    moisture. This method is called en Papillote.

    3. Steam is 21 degrees, the same as boiling water, but carries more heat and

    cooks faster.

    F. Braise- to cook in small amount of liquid after preliminary browning.

    1. browning first adds nice color, flavor and texture to item and sauce

    2. food is usually not completely covered in liquid, the top of the item cooks in


    3. braising can be done in the oven or on the stovetop

    2. Dry Heat- heat conducted to food without moisture

    A. Roast and Bake- cook foods by surrounding them with hot, dry air

    1. roasting usually applies to meats and poultry

    2. Meat roasted on a rack to prevent in from simmering in its own juices.

    a. also allow hot air to completely circulate

    B. Broil- to cook with radiant heat from above

    1. tender meats, fish, poultry and some vegetables are typical

    2. generally rub item with a little oil prior to broiling to help retain moisture and

    prevent sticking

    C. Grilling- done on open grid over heat source

    D. Griddling- done on solid cook surface called a griddle

    1. griddling is with or without fat

    E. Pan-broiling- done in a sauté pan

    1. fat must be poured off as it accumulates

    2. no liquid is added and food is never covered

    3. Dry heat using Fat

    A. Sauté- cook foods quickly in small amount of fat

    1. preheat pan before adding food

    2. do not overcrowd as that will lower the temperature of the pan and food will

    end up simmer in it’s own juices


    3. after sautéing the pan can be deglazed with a liquid to dissolve browned bits

    and make a sauce

    C. Pan-fry- to cook in a moderate amount of fat over moderate heat 2. similar to sautéing but with more fat and longer cook time 3. used for larger, thicker cuts of meat

    C. Deep-fry- to cook submerged in hot fat

    Recipe Basics

    1. A recipe is a set of instructions for making a certain dish A. Standard recipe is written as follows

    1. Name

    2. yield

    3. ingredients and amounts listed in order of use

    4. equipment needed

    5. directions for preparing the dish

    6. cooking times and temperatures

    B. Recipes are guidelines for experienced cooks

    1. experienced cooks can prepare food without a recipe because they

    understand cooking basics

    2. no matter how detailed a recipe, it does not tell you everything

    a. Judgment by the cook is always needed because food

    products are never uniform and this affects how ingredients

    are handled, for example…

    1. ripeness of foods

    2. one product saltier than another

    3. different pans distribute heat at different rates

    4. liquid evaporates from wide pots faster than narrow ones

    5. heat settings different on all stoves

     A. an experienced cook can make judgments about all the

    different variables

    C. Always read recipes thoroughly before starting

    1. You’ll know what to anticipate, prep, set up etc

    2. Failure to read a recipe thoroughly can result in surprises that can ruin

    the food, such as not having the oven preheated, not having ice water ready for blanched vegetables etc.

    D. Mise en Place- ―Everything in its place‖

     1. Everything ready to cook

     2. All ingredients and equipment on hand

    Broccoli with Shallot Butter


1 bunch broccoli -- cut into flowerets

    2 tablespoons butter

    2 shallots -- minced

     Salt and pepper -- to taste

    Steam broccoli, covered, over a 1/2" of simmering water for 2-3 minutes to brighten the color and soften the texture. Steaming retains the most vitamins and minerals.

    Melt butter in a sauté pan. Add shallots and sauté until fragrant and translucent. Add broccoli and sauté for 1-2 minutes, tossing frequently to completely cover in butter and shallots. Season with salt and pepper.

    Cauliflower Au Gratin

? head cauliflower -- cut into flowerets

    2 tablespoons butter

    2 tablespoons flour

    1 ? cups milk

    1 cup Swiss cheese -- shredded

    1 tablespoon dried dill

     to taste Salt, white pepper and nutmeg --

    ? sweet red pepper -- diced

    1/3 cup fresh bread crumbs

     Durkee's French fried onions -- optional

    Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Set up a large bowl of ice water. Preheat oven to 375.

    Drop flowerets into boiling for 1-2 minutes to blanch. Cauliflower will take on a brighter, more translucent look. Remove from boiling water and immediately drop into ice water to stop the cooking process. Drain well.

    In a heavy bottomed saucepan, melt butter. When bubbling, add flour and cook over medium heat for 1-2 minutes.

    Pour in milk slowly, whisking constantly till mixture comes to a simmer. Continue stirring for 2 minutes.

    Add cheese and dill and cook till cheese melts. Season to taste with salt, white pepper and nutmeg.

    In a large casserole, toss together cauliflower and red pepper. Pour sauce over the vegetables. Sprinkle with bread crumbs and French fried onions.

    Bake, covered, in a preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until bubbling and golden brown.

    NOTES: Blanching firm, dry vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, carrots etc) before cooking softens them and raises their water content slightly so that they do not become tough and rubbery when baked or roasted etc.

    Italian Roast Beef #2


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