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Braising help needed


JoNorvelleWalker
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Braising temps are around 200-225F but the oven needs to be closer to 375F and will take up to 4 hours depending on cut of meat, size etc... It's a little easier to do braising stovetop but also easy to dry the meat out as well.

You'd think it would be simple and it is but can easily be F'd up- especially if one is on a deadline and doesn't get the parameters right.

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I did a major double-take at the amount of liquid you used. That's your problem, plain and simple.

If the liquid reply was to me, for the lamb shank I used a level of about an inch in my smallest Dutch oven. For the other recipes that I mentioned I followed the authors' instructions as exactly as I could. Were you thinking I should use less liquid or more liquid?

My latest experiment was pork spareribs braised in balsamic vinegar and red wine. I got the idea from someone named Nemmie in a blog I found from google:

http://scottnemmiefa...onzola-polenta/

I started with a full rack of ribs, parboiled then browned them. After seven hours on the stovetop the ribs were tasty but not tender, After five more hours in the oven at 225F the next day, they were tender but a bit stringy. Good, but not perfect. By education (decades ago) I was a protein chemist, and this is very frustrating. Now I'm wondering if I cook the ribs further if they will just get tougher.

Cooking is cool.  And kitchen gear is even cooler.  -- Chad Ward

 

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You might have got one bad rack of ribs. Happens sometimes. What impressed me though was the polenta!

A trick to ribs is to do your rub, marinade etc and then a visit in the pressure cooker for 5 minutes with a natural release. Then smoke or braise. The juice from the PC can form the basis for the sauce. No rack of ribs should take more than 5 hours at 225 even without parboiling!

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The polenta I made for the ribs was plain with butter on it, which is how I like my polenta. I don't think the ribs were bad, just that I don't have the right combination of time and temperature yet.

Cooking is cool.  And kitchen gear is even cooler.  -- Chad Ward

 

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Braises are my idiot-proof dinner party go-to. I brown large cuts (osso buco or lamb shanks) or smaller chunks of lamb or pork, less frequently beef, deglaze the pot (All Clad dutch oven) with appropriate wine, pile the meat on browned onions, garlic cloves, a bouquet garni, add appropriate broth almost to cover. Cover with a paper lid and put in a 275 to 300F oven for 3 to 5 hours, checking on doneness after 3. Always, always tender as love meat and ambrosial juices.

eGullet member #80.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I have had two wonderful braises since my last update. I cooked some beef chuck well browned in pork fat in my smallest Le Creuset with carrots, fennel, onions, garlic. The last of it I served over fettuccine (not home made, though, I confess) with much fresh parsley.

The second was another batch of Wolfert's chicken with apricots and pine nuts, even better than the first time I prepared it. I have acquired a SimmerMat that I use in conjunction with my ILSA heat diffuser. Both of them together allow me to maintain very low braising temperatures as Paula Wolfert suggests. But with temperatures between 170-175 degrees F, cooking times are many hours. The food can cook all day. Not having to do with braising, but I am pleased that I was able to make some quite good pseudo Moroccan stone baked flatbread on my first attempt.

I have another small piece of chuck and I am wondering what to do with it.

Cooking is cool.  And kitchen gear is even cooler.  -- Chad Ward

 

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Great to see your efforts are coming along nicely! Practice practice practice!

I like doing sauerbraten with chuck instead of bottom round. Alton Brown has a great recipe.

Lacking specific equipment here was my first attempt with a plate over the casserole dish and foil:

2011-12-27%2B15.44.23.jpg

2011-12-27%2B15.49.37.jpg

2011-12-27%2B22.23.40.jpg

And then I inherited mom's 4qt Corning ware with lid (at least 50 years old):

2012-02-17%2B15.24.35.jpg

2012-02-18%2B12.02.35.jpg

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  • 10 months later...

I need help again. This afternoon I bought some pork spare ribs (not the baby back ribs or the country spare ribs shoulder cut). I have an Italian style recipe I have made several times before that calls for braising, however this time I had hoped to adapt it to cooking the ribs in a pressure cooker, as now I have a pressure cooker, and when braising spare ribs I never seem to get them cooked enough.

EG has spare rib threads on babecue, smoking, steaming, and cooking in the oven. Unfortunately there is nothing I could find here on the subject of braising pork spare ribs or on pressure cooking them.

If I braise traditionally, what would be a good length of time for spare ribs? It always takes longer to braise anything than I expect. Maybe braising or pressure cooking are not the best techniques for spare ribs? I am open to suggestions. I could even try spit roasting them for something different.

Cooking is cool.  And kitchen gear is even cooler.  -- Chad Ward

 

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My spare rib braises are typically done at 200 - 225 for about 4 hours. I start checking the ribs at, oh, 3-1/2 to 4 hours by prodding them with a fork. Sometimes they've taken as long as 5 to get tender. If I haven't seen any activity in the tenderness direction by 4 hours then I generally step up the temperature - that would be, say, from 200 to 225. I don't think I ever go above that in my oven braises, but it depends on your oven. Remember that for a braise you want the liquid to be just barely at the simmer - slow, occasional bubbles.

In my experience the heavy Le Creuset oval french oven gets better results - meaning more tender - than a heavy baking pan with foil; on the other hand, the oval shape won't allow more than one rack to lie flat and it's difficult to get both racks to cook evenly. If I'm doing 2 racks in the Le Creuset then I'll rotate them partway through, to keep them exposed more or less the same to the braising liquid. In addition, the Le Creuset takes longer to come up to temperature than the heavy baking dish with foil, so the whole process takes longer if you haven't preheated the pot by browning the meat and bringing the braising liquid to a boil. (I generally don't do those steps with spare ribs; I've taken to just loading them into the pot or pan with a little liquid, covering it, putting it in the oven and monitoring it.) Starting from a cold pot and meat, I think I'd allow more like 5 hours in the Le Creuset at 225, but I'd check the temperature to make sure I had just a bare simmer, and adjust the temperature accordingly.

Sorry I can't help with the pressure cooker question. I don't think spit-roasting spare ribs would make you feel happy about your purchase.

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
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Oh, one more thing: remember that the braising process is slow enough that you have a long period of time when it's done, before it starts to get overdone. If you're trying to time everything you're better off allowing an extra hour or two; when the ribs are done, you can wrap them tightly and keep them warm until it's time to eat.

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Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

Follow us on social media! Facebook; instagram.com/egulletx; twitter.com/egullet

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)
"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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The spare rib recipe I'm working with is spuntature al sugo from The Romagnolis' Table (pp 150-151). Very simple: brown and season the ribs, then braise in red wine and tomatoes. The braising time called for is "at least 1 hour...even 2 hours", which never works for me. One reason I gave up on the recipe, although when braised much longer the results are tastey.

Here is something that puzzles me: the ribs are specified to be "cut in 3-inch lengths". I always assumed this meant 3 inch widths, in other words pieces of two or three ribs? But if it really means "lengths" that might explain the shorter cooking time. Not that I know of any way to cut a rib lengthwise short of a band saw.

Any guesses as to what the recipe might mean?

Cooking is cool.  And kitchen gear is even cooler.  -- Chad Ward

 

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It would be three inch lengths, which makes it easier to eat. Chinese cooking uses similar piece sizes. Get your butcher to cut them using a bandsaw. As the thickness of the meat being cooked doesn't change with shorter pieces it shouldn't affect the cooking time.

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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It's definitely underdone. Breaking down meats until they are tender at low temperatures requires time at temperature, not just taking the meat up to temperature. For example, with sous vide cooking you may cook beef ribs at 135F but you would do so for three days.You typically need to cook lamb shanks until they are fork tender. Some recipes refer to a 325F oven for almost three hours. At 172 or even 250, you'd need a lot more time.

Rather than playing with meat temperature as your guide, I'd look up recommended cooking times and use those. Then you can measure and adjust your temperatures accordingly. Vegetables and beans require different cooking methods and times so I'd be tempted to do them seperately and add them towards the end of cooking.

I have done short ribs many times, And i can say with certainty @ 135F, they need only 36 hours to become tender. Not fall apart tender, but tender like a filet mignon @ 135F for 4 hours.

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Thanks! I guess I'll wait till I have three inch lengths then for that recipe. Unfortunately The Romagnolis' Table has almost no pictures, so it was not obvious to me.

How about I cut off the sternum side of the ribs and use those little pieces for the spuntature al sugo? Would that work?

Meanwhile, what can I do with my ribs? I'd love suggestions.

Cooking is cool.  And kitchen gear is even cooler.  -- Chad Ward

 

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It's definitely underdone. Breaking down meats until they are tender at low temperatures requires time at temperature, not just taking the meat up to temperature. For example, with sous vide cooking you may cook beef ribs at 135F but you would do so for three days.You typically need to cook lamb shanks until they are fork tender. Some recipes refer to a 325F oven for almost three hours. At 172 or even 250, you'd need a lot more time.

Rather than playing with meat temperature as your guide, I'd look up recommended cooking times and use those. Then you can measure and adjust your temperatures accordingly. Vegetables and beans require different cooking methods and times so I'd be tempted to do them seperately and add them towards the end of cooking.

I have done short ribs many times, And i can say with certainty @ 135F, they need only 36 hours to become tender. Not fall apart tender, but tender like a filet mignon @ 135F for 4 hours.

Could be a difference between the corn-fed beef you use and the grass-fed beef that I use or perhaps we have a different definition of tender.

I think this amply demonstrates that hard and fast rules are not the answer and people need to explore what works best for them individually.

Edited by nickrey (log)

Nick Reynolds, aka "nickrey"

"The Internet is full of false information." Plato
My eG Foodblog

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Could be a difference between the corn-fed beef you use and the grass-fed beef that I use or perhaps we have a different definition of tender.

I think this amply demonstrates that hard and fast rules are not the answer and people need to explore what works best for them individually.

You may be right. I buy well marbled, wet aged, prime grade , and most likely, corn fed beef short ribs. I used to buy average run of the mill select/choice grade beef short ribs, and after 36 hours @ 135 they were like sawdust texture and dry. Where the prime grade has a juicy tender texture like that of a prime grade filet mignon. I noticed this with low grade select top round versus higher grade choice top round. The select would come out almost white when cooked @ 132F for 16 hours where the choice would come out a beautiful medium rare dark pink. Its like night and day, and the same cut of meat, just different quality.

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Meanwhile, what can I do with my ribs? I'd love suggestions.

Bak Kut Teh.

Here's an example I made shown here on eG. (You can use just the star anise, cloves and cinnamon and skip the rest of the herbs)

You might also consider "braising" meats in a Chinese-type style ("炆"/"燜"), which Western/French cuisine purists might consider more like stewing than braising. I do my "braises" this way mostly, where I cover the meat (cut up into smaller pieces frequently (or not - e.g. smaller pork hocks are done "whole")) completely with the "braising" liquid and simmer it but allow the liquid to evaporate off (non-completely-sealing lid) and concentrate over the cooking time, turning the meat as needed. This is all done on the stove top, usually in a metal (SS) pot, not in the oven. See here and here and here (scroll down) for some examples.

Edited by huiray (log)
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I never read the breakfast thread before! Is the dish thin like a broth?

As of now I'm leaning toward braising the sternum pieces and spit roasting the ribs themselves. Interesting to me, according to wikipedia, "spare ribs" mean ribs cooked on a spit. I have spit roasted them before but it was so long ago I've forgotten how they turned out.

Cooking is cool.  And kitchen gear is even cooler.  -- Chad Ward

 

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Is the dish thin like a broth?

Depends. Most versions will be broth-like. The "dry-type" version, often associated w/ what is called the Klang version (but is not universally meant when one talks about "Klang BKT") will have a thick sauce.

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  • 4 months later...

I had success with a pork shoulder braise last night. I started with the meat in good sized cubes. After thoroughly browning the pieces on the stovetop in a 28 cm Le Creuset, I added two diced well sweated onions, bay leaves, some water, and a bit of salt. With the lid on I braised the pieces in a 225 deg F oven for an hour, then reduced the heat to 150 deg. and continued the braise for another 24 hours or so.

I pressure cooked previously soaked black beans and added them to the pork, along with rosemary. Lots of rosemary. I cooked with the pot open on the stovetop several hours, with the surface barely trembling. From this I had a lovely meal of soup.

After two days in the refrigerator, I plucked out a few of the larger chunks and baked them in a 400 deg F oven for about ten or fifteen minutes, and served with a mashed potato. The meat was ever so slightly crusty yet tender and pink inside. Very flavorful. Not stringy in the least.

Cooking is cool.  And kitchen gear is even cooler.  -- Chad Ward

 

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... this time I had hoped to adapt it to cooking the ribs in a pressure cooker, as now I have a pressure cooker, and when braising spare ribs I never seem to get them cooked enough.

EG has spare rib threads on babecue, smoking, steaming, and cooking in the oven. Unfortunately there is nothing I could find here on the subject of braising pork spare ribs or on pressure cooking them.

If I braise traditionally, what would be a good length of time for spare ribs? It always takes longer to braise anything than I expect. Maybe braising or pressure cooking are not the best techniques for spare ribs? I am open to suggestions. I could even try spit roasting them for something different.

Reviving this, as we don't know how your ribs turned out, and no one commented on pressure cooking ribs in a tomato based braise.

If the recipe suggests a 2 hour braise, then 50 minutes in the PC will be enough. The intense 250 F steam heat, with no escape, will penetrate the collagen in the ribs, loosening and melting it before the meat gets stringy. Give it a quick release, and finish under a broiler, basting with the sauce until you have the finish you want.

Beef spare ribs are excellent this way, too.

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Funny you should ask about the ribs. The plan was to butcher them St. Louis style and use the rib tips for the braise in tomato sauce. Unfortunately I butchered my hand making Modernist carrot soup, and the ribs went in the freezer. The ribs are still in there. I think of them from time to time.

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Cooking is cool.  And kitchen gear is even cooler.  -- Chad Ward

 

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  • 1 month later...

The ribs are still in the freezer, but I have something positive to report:  I had great success preparing beef chuck in the pressure cooker for an hour, after browning first.  The meat was tender and not stringy at all.  I can't say it was better than braising slowly for two days, but on the other hand I had someting to eat for dinner.

Cooking is cool.  And kitchen gear is even cooler.  -- Chad Ward

 

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  • 4 weeks later...

This is late, but I had so much sympathy for your braising troubles I wanted to comment.  A few years ago, I too became interested in stews and braises, and yet following the recipes left me with tough and stringy meat.  What I do now, instead, is completely ignore temperatures, and just make sure the pot is always at a low simmer.  If it is completely still, it's too cold, and if it's boiling, it's too hot.  My hunch is that so few ovens are calibrated that using oven temperatures can lead you astray!  Or maybe that's just me.  :)  Anyway, I'm just a home cook so advanced cooks may have reasoned disagreement, but changing my practice here worked like a charm for me.  I usually do braise-y things on the stovetop, but this "method" also works for the oven, if you're willing to be a bit hands-on.

 

Also relatedly, my go-to recipe for pasta sauce involves pork spare ribs (along with sausage and beef chuck).  I brown them, and then braise everything for 2-3 hours.  It never takes 2 days (!).  They are not falling off the bone--they are tender but also have some resistence--which is how I like them. 

 

I have ordered a pressure cooker (just yesterday) and am super excited--that's how I stumbled on this thread.  I can't wait to try out all the things that take me hours a day.  I have twin babies so no time for the old ways!  :)

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I just made a version of Molly Stevens' "World's Best Braised Green Cabbage" and it was really delicious, a very pleasant surprise both to myself and to several people who said they don't usually like cabbage. It's cabbage cut into wedges, with carrots and onion, some S&P, a few red pepper flakes, chicken stock and oil - all cooked for about 2 hours at 325F or so. If you are interested, this is the version I did:

 

http://www.kitchenriffs.com/2011/03/easy-tasty-braised-cabbage.html

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