Want tender meat? Braise it!

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 11, 2017

Braising is a technique that makes for tender meat. Thanks to low, slow cooking in a flavorful liquid, the meat becomes crazy tender and full of flavor.

For Valentine’s Day I think the perfect dinner would be a perfectly braised piece of beef that can be done ahead and just prepare your vegetables quickly before eating. I read about a backward way of braising in my new issue of ‘Fine Cooking’ magazine which I tied and it really worked. Typically one sears the meat at the beginning of cooking for flavor and color; this technique cooks the meat with the aromatics and then browns it at the end of cooking.

This has many advantages since you do not have to sear the meat on the stovetop and therefore less mess. This also creates a nice broth in the pot and you do not have to add stock. Also, you can cook the meat days ahead and only have to reheat and brown in the same pot.

The best meats for braising are pork shoulder roast and beef chuck because both are deeply flavored, and the bone-in are the least expensive. This recipe uses a dry rub a day ahead and could be left on longer if you wish. This adds a lot of flavor. With a recipe this easy your Valentine’s Day will have great meat to give you time for the dessert of your choice!

From ‘Fine Cooking’ February/March 2017.

Chili-Rubbed Braised Beef

Serves 4-6

For the spice rub:

¼ cup chili powder

4 ½ tsp. kosher salt

2 Tbs. light brown sugar

2 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. dried oregano

¼ tsp. ground allspice

1  3 ½ -to 4 ½ -lb. beef chuck roast, preferably bone-in

For the braise:

1 28-oz. can diced tomatoes

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

6 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced

Kosher salt

Season the beef:

Combine the chili powder, salt, sugar, cumin, oregano, and allspice in a small bowl.

Using a paring knife, trace the fat seams of the roast and around the bone, if there is one, to make a series of deep incisions on both sides, without completely separating the muscles. Coat the meat all over with the rub, massaging it between the muscles and on all sides of the roast.

Put the meat in a Dutch oven or high-sided skillet that fits it snugly. Cover and refrigerate for at least 12 hours and up to 3 days.

Braise the beef:

Remove the meat from the refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 1 to 1 ½ hours before cooking.

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat to 300°F. Uncover the beef, and add the tomatoes, onion, garlic, and ½ cup water. Cover tightly and cook until the meat is fork-tender, 3 to 3 ½ hours.

Leaving the liquid and vegetables in the pot, transfer the meat to a rimmed baking sheet to cool slightly. Separate the meat into large chunks, and remove and discard any fat.

Skim the fat from the broth. Return the meat to the pot and arrange the pieces in a single layer. (The dish can be prepared up to this point and refrigerated for 1 to2 days. Reheat the meat at 300°F, covered, for 30 minutes before proceeding with the recipe.)

Raise the oven temperature to 425°F. Cook the beef, uncovered, until the exposed surface is deeply browned, flipping once, about 40 minutes. Serve with the vegetables and sauce, and season to taste with salt.