I have to admit, braising is relatively new to me. Every so often, I would give it a go with a pork roast. Or lamb, maybe. But it’s really only been in the last year that I have started braising my veggies – and now I just can’t get enough. Maybe it was the two-step process that kept me away for so long. My cooking has always been about keeping it EASY – nothing fussy, simple ingredients, limited kitchen time. A cooking technique that required two steps? No way. And then I tried it. I have been a happy and regular “braiser” ever since.
In a nutshell, braising offers up both the richness in flavor that comes from browning with the tenderness of simmering. And the time commitment is minimal. You can have a plate of tasty veggies on the table in less than 15 minutes. Throw them together with some brown rice or lentils and you have yourself a deliciously simple weeknight meal.
Braising: 10 Simple Steps
Braising allows your veggies to shine. Keep your ingredients simple and allow the natural flavors to come through. When selecting your veggie, go for firmer options like asparagus, broccoli, carrots or greens beans. You want them to stay together through the cooking process.
For a basic braising recipe, all you need is:
- 1 lb vegetable, trimmed and cut into equal size pieces
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1/2 cup broth (veggie or chicken)
- sea salt
- freshly ground pepper
- fresh lemon juice (optional)
When it comes to braising, the best pan for the job is a 10-inch, straight-sided sauté pan. Don’t have one of those around? No problem. One of your larger sauté pans will work just fine. The only other must-have is a wooden spatula. Tongs also come in very handy for turning the veggies over but the wooden spatula can get the job done as well.
When prepping veggies for braising, the key is “sameness”. By keeping them the same size, they are more likely to cook evenly. For baby broccoli (shown here), green beans and asparagus, all you really need to do is trim the ends. For carrots, try sticks (3” long by ½” wide). Brussels sprouts work well simply cut in half.
If you would prefer to go without the butter, double the amount of olive oil. You may lose the rich, smoky flavor that comes from browned butter but the 100% olive oil option will be good too. Just different.
Add your veggies to the pan and sprinkle with a generous pinch of salt. Toss well so that the veggies are evenly coated. Spread them out so that they are touching the bottom of the pan. Be sure to avoid overcrowding. Cook without stirring until they begin to brown; about 3 -4 minutes.
Turn them over the best you can to brown the other side. Again, cook without stirring; another 3-4 minutes.
Be sure to use a broth that you would actually enjoy as a base to a soup. The flavor of your broth (or lack thereof) will play a big role in how tasty your veggies are in the end.
Additional seasoning is up to you. A little salt & pepper works well. I usually opt for a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. But it doesn’t take much. Taste along the way to be sure that the veggies aren’t being overpowered by stronger flavors.