Braise the Lord

A cooking technique for cold weather

We turn to braising time and time again for winter meals that require virtually no effort. Here's a basic method you can customize:

Step One | Brown the main ingredient: In a heavy high-sided pot or Dutch oven set over high heat, heat some oil, lard, or a mixture of oil and butter. Add the main ingredient: say, brisket, chicken, pork or short ribs. Sear until well-browned on all sides. Remove from the pan and set on a rimmed plate. In general, tougher cuts of meat work best for braising. The long, slow cooking time helps break down the meat, rendering it silky and tender.

Step Two: | Add aromatics: This could be sliced or diced onions or shallots or leeks, chopped carrots and celery, smashed stalks of lemongrass and ground or whole spices. Cook until the vegetables are lightly browned and soft, adding more oil if necessary.

Step Three | Add liquid: Return the main ingredient and accumulated juices to the pot and add liquid, such as stock, water, wine, vermouth, apple cider, coconut milk, even Coca-Cola. The liquid should come about half way up the sides of the pot but should not entirely cover the main ingredient. Cover the pot tightly and cook on the stovetop over low heat or in the oven until the meat is tender. The mixture can also be transferred to a slow- or pressure cooker.

Step Four | Add vegetables: When the main ingredient is nearly done, you can add additional vegetables to the pot; continuing cooking until the vegetables are tender.