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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.
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.