Tips & Techniques

A Trick for Easier, Mess-Free Braising

Braising starts like this: Pat meat dry, season liberally with salt, heat olive oil in a heavy pot or pan, and brown (on both sides, all sides) and often in batches if needed.

Browning adds caramelization and depth of flavor, but it’s also fussy and messy. Sigh: Nothing’s ever that easy. That's why, when user Jordan Elphern-Waxman asked our Hotline if browning chicken for a braising recipe was actually necessary or even worth it, Amanda Hesser offered this nugget of wisdom:

It should be fine without the browning. You'll lose a bit of the caramelization and depth of flavor that goes along with this from the browning, but in a recipe like this with so many other flavors, it'll be fine. However, another solution is to brown the chicken in the oven. Heat your oven to 450 and brown the pieces in pans in the oven, which will contain the spattering.

That last bit, about browning chicken (or other meat pre-braise) in the oven is a game-changer. Do as Amanda says for any braising recipe, adding the browned pieces of meat to the pot post-oven and proceeding with the recipe as directed.

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Here are a few recipes to try the tip out with:

Do you have any tips for easier braising? Let us know in the comments.

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Travel
  • Printz
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Travel February 23, 2017
I love making Mongolian Beef, but the mess it makes of my kitchen with the splattering of the grease in the high heat makes it something I do only occasionally. Would this method work in the oven with a higher heat for the Mongolian Beef? (I have a self-cleaning electric oven, so it would be easier to clean than the stove top and hood.)
Printz February 23, 2017
My solution to flying grease splatter is to save the weeks prior cardboard pizza box and prop it on its side, allowing the already greasy inside of the box to become the barrier between my stove and my counter top.
It's incredible to see how much airbone splat the box catches!
Yes I use a gas stove, and no, I've never set the box on fire.
I have tried every splatter screen contraption known to man, and have the greatest success with my recycled cardboard pizza box.
Antonis February 23, 2017
A fine idea. Now tell me who cleans the oven?
Lazyretirementgirl February 23, 2017
Took the words right out of my mouth!
Kimberly F. February 23, 2017
Wait, but isn't part of the benefit of browning also being able to deglaze the pan you browned in, thus adding flavor to the dish?
Greenstuff February 23, 2017
Oh yes, no question. As Amanda is quoted in the article, you lose that complexity of flavor. But, if there's some reason you can't or won't brown and deglaze, it is still possible to put pretty good food on the table.
Greenstuff February 7, 2017
You can also brown at the end. Take the lid off, and make sure your meat is sticking out of the liquid.