If you’re anything like me, you’ve been cooking home more – a lot more. Along with ramped up at-home cuisine comes a newfound interest in cooking shows. Television chefs frequently use pots and pans that I have never seen or owned such as a braiser. After purchasing my own, I wish I would’ve learned about this handy piece of cookware a lot sooner. This article will help you learn more about how to use a braiser pan for cooking for beginners.
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What is a Braising Pan Used For In Cooking?
The name suggests what the pan is most often used for – which is braising. But what exactly is braising? Chances are that you’ve used a “braising” technique in cooking before but you didn’t know there was a name for what you were doing.
Have you ever browned meat (such as a chuck roast) in a pan, then added liquid and reduced the heat to allow the dish to simmer? If so, then guess what? You’re a braiser! But braising isn’t the only thing a braiser can be used for.
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Not all fried foods require that they be deep fried. Small appetizer dishes such as fried pickles and egg rolls only require shallow frying so a braiser is perfect for the task.
Steaming Your Greens
You won’t need to lug out your huge stock pot or steamer for your greens if you have a braiser. As the braiser pot is wide and most come with domed lids they make a good environment to steam spinach, kale or other greens.
Cooking A Steak
I’ve made some of my best ribeye steaks using my braiser. These bad boys can take the high heat required to make a great-tasting steak. And with the large surface you can make a couple of steaks at a time.
Braiser vs Dutch Oven: What’s The Difference?
When you first glance at a braiser, you may notice that it looks like a smaller version of a dutch oven. You are correct in that observation which ultimately leads to their most glaring difference – the size.
Quite honestly, a dutch oven can handle many of the tasks as a braiser. However, it’s not vice versa. Both pots are usually made of enamel-coated cast iron and can be used for slow cooking and frying.
The difference lies in how much each pot can handle, which may make you prefer one cookware over the other. For instance, if you need to fully immerse a large dish such as a stew or deep fry you will need to use a dutch oven – which come in sizes up to a massive 17 qts.
On the other hand, if you want to shallow fry, a braiser would be preferable – mainly because of its smaller size. Also a braiser is preferred over a dutch oven if you’re looking to prepare a dish that only requires liquid to cover the bottom of a pan. Think of dishes such as risotto and braised short ribs.
Related Article: Great Substitutes for a Dutch Oven
Which Braiser Is The Best?
The main factor you should consider when choosing the best braiser is the size. Another factor that should be considered is the material construction.
Braisers typically range in size from 3.5 quarts to 5 quarts. You will find that the most common material of a braiser is enameled cast iron. Larger sized braisers made for commercial cooking are made of aluminum stainless steel.
As to not be limited in cooking options, you should opt for the best braiser size – 5 quarts. This way as you are learning how to use a braiser and get better with preparing your meals, you can increase the portions of your gourmet masterpieces.
Best Braiser Pan Choices:
|Class||Model||What We Liked|
Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Signature Braiser
|Large handles and superior heat distribution|
|Best Bang For The Buck|
Crock Pot Artisan Enameled Cast Iron Braiser
|Self-basting lid and affordable price|
Related Article: Who Makes The Best Cast Iron Skillet?
How To Use A Braiser Pan For Cooking
Now that you know a little background and information of the braiser we can move on to actually using one for cooking. Here are easy steps on how to use a braiser.
Step #1 – Decide What You Want to Cook
Okay, I know this is the easy part but it’s the first step nonetheless. The first time using a braiser I opted for an economical dish – braised chicken thighs.
No matter which food you’re preparing as a typical braised dish they will almost all follow these same steps. Choose your choice of meat, season with your preferred spice blend and you’re ready for the next step. If you’re deep frying or steaming these steps won’t apply.
Step #2 – Add Oil
You want to add enough oil to your braiser pan to get a nice sear. A few teaspoons should do. Just make sure it’s enough to cover the bottom of your braiser. This should be done on medium-high heat.
You can use olive, canola or vegetable oil. I prefer about a teaspoon of my choice of oil and 2 tablespoons of butter once the oil has melted.
Step #3 – Adding and Browning the Meat
Once your oil is melted and hot add your meat. If it’s chicken be sure to add it skin side down first. You want to brown each side for about 2 minutes. Once each side is seared and browned, remove the meat and place to the side.
- Do not leave the pot unattended.
- Ensure the meat is dry before adding the ingredients into a hot braiser pan to avoid splattering.
- If a fire erupts, cover the container right away to cut off the oxygen supply and stop the fire.
Step #4 – Add Aromatics and Braising Liquid
Now’s the time to get creative and add those wonderful herbs or aromatics. This will be your onions, garlic, rosemary or whichever herbs you choose. If the pan is looking a little dry on oil then add about another tablespoon of oil before adding in your herbs.
Saute the herbs for about a minute then add in your stock or liquid. For chicken dishes – chicken stock, for beef – beef stock and so forth.
You can also add red or white cooking wine in addition to the stock. As you learn how to use a braiser, be sure to select the cooking wine that compliments your dish.
Step #5 – Return Meat to Braiser Pan
Add the meat back into the pan and bring the stock to a boil. Once the stock has reached a boil, cover your braiser with the lid and reduce heat to medium-low. Now you allow your meat to braise in that beautiful stock for about 20 minutes or so.
Step #6 – Turn Meat Over
After 20 minutes has elapsed, remove the lid from the pan and turn your meat to the other side. Take this time to spoon some of your stock over your meat to spread those flavors around. If the meat appears to be sticking to the braiser just scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon and give it a little stir.
Continue to let the meat braise for another 30 minutes. Check your braiser pan periodically to be sure nothing is sticking which would just require another little stir.
After that last 30 minutes you’re now done! You should feel very accomplished to have created such a delicious culinary delight.
Our Final Thoughts On How To Use A Braiser
You should also note that many braised dishes can also be finished in the oven for a true “set it and forget it” cooking technique. Once your meat is seared and braising liquid is added, just place the braiser in a 350 degree oven for about 45 minutes and you’re done.
Once you know how to use a braiser the possibilities can be endless. Refer to this article to select the best braiser pan and be ready to up your culinary game!