Question about braising temperatures? Quicker vs Faster? Pros vs Cons?

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by thanoushef, Jan 30, 2014.

  1. thanoushef


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    Cook At Home
    Hi guys-

    i'm a home cook and i cook almost everyday (despite lack of time from a tired day at work i should at least eat well, right?) and my favorite technique is "braising". it's the most complex flavors, it's the best bold flavors, it's just...the best flavor for really difficult cuts of meat (that may possibly outshine even better cuts of meat when done properly). so.....heres my dilemma: i watch alot of cooking tv and i noticed over the years that people would braise short ribs for like 30-40 minutes and it would come out as if they braised it all day long!? how can this be? i've been braising for at least the past 5 years of my life (i'm 28 yrs old btw, im old yes & thank you) and short ribs have always taken at least a painful 3 hrs at about 200F? I also heard that per pound it should take an hour or so? But anyway, I want to find out if I could possibly shorten my braising time in half at least or preferably more.  No matter 1 lb or 5 lbs of beef, or chicken etc, I want to braise quickly so I dont have to spend so much time on it. I mean, some of these tv challenge shows give the cooks 30 min. and they somehow braise a whole pork shoulder that falls off the bone like it was, again, cooked all day.  is there some chart or sliding scale for beef, lamb, chicken, etc that i could find so i can avoid testing and possibly ruining potential numerous lbs of over/under-cooked braised meat failures?  i know beef is 200F for 2-3 hrs for up to 5 lbs, and chicken is 300 for 2 hrs up to 5 lbs also, but anything else is a mystery to me. i read recipes that say braise in oven for 2 hrs at 350F only to end up with overcooked meat EVERY SINGLE TIME. i dont know anyone who braises over 300F actually. these ovens must be one of a kind to produce that sort of result.  Anyway, I just want, in the end (excuse my wordiness in this post) to find a chart that i could refer to and say "oh i need to cook this lamb and braise it, but i only have 2 hrs. is there an alternate temp and time i could use instead of hours and hours and hours?  Please advise. tried googling with nothing worth noting.  this must be a trick of some kind. also, i want to avoid a pressure cooker, but may end up using it if that's the ULTIMATE way to the quickest juiciest braises.

    thanks EVERYBODY & i love you all.

    keep that saute pan on high. 
  2. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    I Just Like Food
    I don't know anyone who braises in the oven at 200F. The heat transfer is so slow in the oven it would take a very long time. A quick read thermometer is how you know when it's done.

    But yes, the pressure cooker is the fastest way to reduce braised cooking time. 
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2014
  3. linecook854


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    Head Chef
    I'm a little puzzled by this post but here's a stab:

    I'm not quite sure what you mean by TV shows showing cooks braise things (whole pork shoulder like you said) in 30 minutes as I have never seen this personally. The only thing I can surmise is that they are using pressure cookers. As far as "overcooked" meat when braised at over 350F I'm assuming you mean dry? Yes, this would occur if you are braising things at 450F as the liquid is most likely boiling quite rapidly. In regards to time frames and pounds of food as a guideline I would offer you my opinion of ignoring those things all together, just take a peek and see how things are coming along. If you don't have hours for cooking braised items I reccommend not using this cooking method without a pressure cooker (or use chicken thighs or leg quarters which don't take too long, specifically chicken not stewing hens or older birds BTW.)

    I don't advise braising anything over 325F, I do a lot of braising as a sous chef still and I do veal cheeks, pork shanks, and lamb shoulder at 200F. I almost do nothing over 275F. In the few casual restaurants I've worked in everyone braised at 450F because the heat transfer would take too long in large hotel pans full of beef chuck, the results were never as good as they should have been. HOWEVER, if you are using proper technique there's no reason as to why you can't braise most anything in a 200F oven. Just need to have the braising liquid at the boiling point before going into the oven. See below.

    For example: Lamb Shanks

    Start a heavy bottomed rondeau on the range, sear off shanks and set aside. Saute aromatics, mirepoix, add tomato paste and cook through. Then, deglaze with red wine. Scrape sucs off bottom of rondeau. Add stock and add shanks back to pan. Bring liquid to boiling point then take off heat, wrap tightly with double layer of foil and pop into preheated oven. Many times I don't even add the proteins to the liquid, I simply transfer the seared shanks to a hotel pan and then add the boiling liquid over the shanks from the rondeau to the hotel pan. I do this simply because it's easier to wrap and transfer a rectangular hotel pan or 1/2 hotel pan to an oven than a round rondeau which makes wrapping difficult because there is no rim for foil to adhere to.

    The reason why most cooks in casual restaurants braised things at 450F was because after searing they simply dumped gallons of cold stock into the hotel pan, wrapped and shoved into the oven. Of course it would take forever at 200F to braise because it's gonna take hours to just get the heat transfer to penetrate the liquid and meat then add on the actual cooking time.

    Braising takes time! Low and slow is the way to go! Hope this helps.
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2014
  4. petemccracken


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    Professional Chef
    TV cooks that "braise in 30 minutes" are probably braising for the real time it takes, it is just they have several pots at different stages as necessary for the show.

    One never knows what REALLY happens on a TV show unless you are sitting in the studio /img/vbsmilies/smilies/lol.gif
  5. pete

    pete Moderator Staff Member

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    Professional Chef
    In those challenge type cooking shows they are usually using a pressure cooker.  And yes you can get it done in that amount of time by using a pressure cooker, but in my opinion, you lose out on a lot of the depth of flavor that only a long, slow braise can achieve.  Sure they have a tender product, but one that is not nearly as flavorful as one braised the traditional way.  Some things just take time, and braising is one of those things, if you want to do it right.