Fresh Cooking for Spring: Braise!

This week a year ago we were deep into our Braising Contest 2007 - a light, breezy contest that garnered far more attention and entries than we expected. Turns out that braising is pretty interesting to our readers, and rightly so. It's the right style of cooking for this time of year. Braising is often considered a winter method of cooking, but we turn to it in the spring. Why? A braise is a simple thing, really. It's the process of browning or searing a piece of meat or some vegetables for flavor and color, then cooking with a bit of liquid in a covered dish - usually for a long time. This lends itself well to homey, rich winter foods like brisket and stew.

We turn to it in the spring because, well, we're busy in the spring! It seems like time speeds up and we don't have a lot of time to plan out dinners or supper parties. We sear some meat quickly, throw it in the Crock-Pot with a glug of wine and a handful of garlic, and go about our day.

The thing about a braise is that you really, really can't screw it up. You get great flavor, an easy meal, and tender meat without fiddling with recipes, thermometers, roasting pans, or gravy-making. We could literally do it in our sleep.

Also, even though you need to cook meat long and slow, you're doing it at low heat. So while your kitchen is getting warmer and sunnier, you're not adding to the rising heat. You're just leaving the oven on a gentle low heat, or keeping the oven off entirely and using the Crock-Pot instead.

Here are a few of our favorite tips on spring braising, and some of our favorite recipes from last year's contest. The photo above is from this recipe: Individual Pot Roasts with Thyme-Glazed Carrots.

Braising TipsWord of Mouth: BraiseBuying Meat for a BraiseGood Beef: How to Find Local MeatBrowning - How Dark Do You Go?CrockPot Meals: How to Braise in a Slow CookerBraise With an Inverted Lid of FoilDutch Oven RoundupAlternative to Dutch Ovens Meaty BraisesRaedia's Rogan JoshJoanna's Crostini Toppers Three WaysRachel's Beer Braised Beef with Kohlrabi and LeeksMike's Gigot Brais a la MalarkeyCarolina & Ron's Chinese Five Spices & Beer Beef Stew Vegetable BraisesWine-Braised CabbageGreek Style Braised Green BeansBetsy's Wine Braised Lentils on CrostiniKristina's Braised CarrotsEmily's Braised Endive with ProsciuttoTeri's Slow Braised Tomatoes

(Image: Faith Hopler)

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