Does the pan you braise in matter?

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by angela09, Jan 11, 2010.

  1. angela09

    angela09

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    So...
    I'm going to make braised lamb shanks tomorrow. I've made them before (for two people) in my cast iron dutch oven, and they turned out great. But I need to made four instead of two, and I can't fit four in my dutch oven in the "single layer" the recipe says the shanks should be braised in.
    Here are my questions: a) Is that single layer thing just because the shanks need to be in liquid so they braise properly, and if so, can I just add more liquid? b) If I do opt for a different pan, does the pan make a difference? My roasting pan, which would be the other alternative, isn't exactly high quality, and I'm worried that would lead to an inferior end result.
    Thanks!
     
  2. chris.lawrence

    chris.lawrence

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    Braising is all about slow... the liquid transfers the heat much more efficiently than air, so unless you want your lamb to cook at different speeds, they need to be fully immersed.

    They do not need to be in a single layer, just immersed.

    The braising pan doesn't need to be measured in quality, but thicknesses and colour will affect how hot the braising liquid is; you don't want the braising liquid hotter than 80degC!

    The darker the colour the more heat it will absorb (radient heat) and the thinner the pan, the less distance the heat has to travel to the liquid (direct heat). SO there are more efficient pans and less efficient pans. Put the less efficient in the hottest part of the oven if stacking.

    Here's my techique on the best braise you'll ever have.

    1) Heat the oven to under 100deg (about 90), and add the browned meat and braise liquid UNCOVERED (no lid).
    -Evaporative cooling (the transfer of heat as the surface of the liquid evaporates) will warm the liquid up very slowly to only about 50 degrees C. Keep it as this temp for 2 hours.
    Why? Well because the flavour of meat can be greatly enhanced by "speed aging". This is where the protein digesting enzymes present in the meat go heywire and breakdown every protein they can find into flavourful amino acids! They are most active between 40-50 degrees C (and destroyed above 50) so the longer the meat stays at this temp, the more tender and more flavourful it becomes.

    2) Increase the temp to about 120degC, and leave for at least an hour.
    The temp of the braising liquid will slowly raise to about 75-80C which will begin gelatinise the collagen in the cuts.

    Test ever half an hour until; "fork tender" -- the grain of the meat is tender enough to seperated by mild pressure of a fork.

    3) Leave in the braising liquid for at least half an hour. It will reabsorb some of the liquid lost and will be much juicier.
     
  3. angela09

    angela09

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    Wow, that's really informative.
    Thanks!
     
  4. dc sunshine

    dc sunshine

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    What Chris said. Great information and explanation (taking
    notes here....) Make lots of juice - you can store and save for future dishes - if you can bear to leave any of it. Love braised shanks.
     
  5. angela09

    angela09

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    p.s.: So I should ignore the recipe that says to cook them at 350 (F), huh? That did seem a little high to me...
     
  6. ed buchanan

    ed buchanan

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    Careful,/ I believe Chef Chris is talking centergrade not ferenheit temps. Everything in his explanation is right on, follow it.:chef:
     
  7. chefray

    chefray

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    350 seems a bit high still. 120 C work out to about 250, off the top of my head. That may be a little low but I wouldn't go much above 280 for lamb. I'm not saying 250 is wrong, it just might be a little slow for your liking. This from a guy who prefers whole primals at about 220 for 13 hours.:smokin
     
  8. angela09

    angela09

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    I always learn so much from this forum.
    Thanks, everyone!