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Braising in stock vs water, no difference?!


torolover
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Traditionally you braise tough meats like pork shoulder or short ribs in stock and aromatics at low heat for 4-8 hours.  Then you let it sit overnight in fridge, and the next day you can reheat the meat and reduce the stock to make a sauce.

 

What if I braised the meat with just water?  Will the water penetrate the meat and make the meat more "watery" tasting? 

 

I read that marinades don't penetrate meat more than a few millimeters no matter how long the meat has been marinading.  If that's true, then doesn't that mean water can't penetrate the meat by more than a few millimeters while I'm braising?

 

My idea is to braise meat with simply water.  While it's braising, I can make a separate concentrated sauce.  

 

After the meat has been fully braised, I can take the meat out from the water and place it it in a new container.  Then I can pour some of my concentrated sauce over the meat.  The next morning I can reheat the meat with the sauce.

 

Will the interior of this meat taste more watery compared to a traditional braised meat?

 

 

Edited by torolover (log)
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It's my sense and experience that the meat will flavor the water to a considerable extent, therefore by not using the cooking liquid you are forfeiting a lot of retained flavor.   Think of boiling a chicken, and the resulting broth.   

 

Might you cook the meat in water, cool both, then remove meat and make your sauce by concentrating the cooking liquid?   Or is time the issue here?

eGullet member #80.

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Braising in water won't make the meat watery, but the meat will leach flavor into the braising liquid.  You're basically making a stock with your braise.

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A multilevel question, touching some very fundamental issues.

 

If you place a of meat into a watery liquid, it will undergo an equilibrium process. The cells in the tissue will slowly equilibrate their sodium chloride (and others) concentration with the surrounding aqueous solution in a passive way. Increasing the temperature will facilitate/speed up the process (as does physical damage to the cells). Along with the flux of water other (flavor relevant) compounds tag along, especially when cell integrity is impaired. You can call this process leaching.

If you braise your meat in a salted stock, chances are that the flux of water goes from the piece from the meat towards the surrounding liquid. If you braise your meat in water, flux will be directed into the meat, leading to a dilution of flavor and possibly leaching of cellular liquid into the surrounding stock. You are not interested in either.
 


 

 

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32 minutes ago, Duvel said:



If you braise your meat in a salted stock, chances are that the flux of water goes from the piece from the meat towards the surrounding liquid. If you braise your meat in water, flux will be directed into the meat, leading to a dilution of flavor and possibly leaching of cellular liquid into the surrounding stock. You are not interested in either.
 


 

 

Although most people salt braising liquid fairly mildly. Probably not even as much as is in the meat naturally,  which has a little less than 1g of salt per 100 cc of meat liquid.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, KennethT said:

Braising in water won't make the meat watery, but the meat will leach flavor into the braising liquid.  You're basically making a stock with your braise.

If I braise in water, let's say theoretically 30 grams of chicken juice leech into the water (I just made up a number to simplify).

 

If I braise in chicken stock, wouldn't 30 grams of chicken juice also leech out and go into the chicken stock?  I thought it was heat and time that determines how much chicken juice is lost, not what's surrounding the chicken?

 

If marinades can only penetrate a few millimeters into the chicken, doesn't that also mean chicken stock can only penetrate a few millimeters into the chicken?

 

and if chicken stock can only penetrate a few millimeters into the chicken, doesn't that mean water can only penetrate a few millimeters into the chicken?

 

 

Edited by torolover (log)
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I have simmered chicken, beef and pork - in "plain water," in beer, in wine, and also in "stock/broth"

 

if there is a difference, , , that done in a stock/broth is slightly more flavorful.

the whole "osmotic exchange" thing is like . . . seriously influenced by "did you salt the water/stock/brine/wine?"

 

imho, do what your gut tells you in the situation, and be mindful of salt in the process....

acidity - common in wine poaching - can/does/quickly affect texture of poultry - I'm not a fan of 'wine soaked chicken . . . " stuff.

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I get the feeling that the separate sauce you envision is special and the reason for wanting to keep the cooking liquid simple.  If so, the slight flavor the meat loses to the braising liquid will probably not be noticeable.  

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eGullet member #80.

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Duvel said:

A multilevel question, touching some very fundamental issues.

 

If you place a of meat into a watery liquid, it will undergo an equilibrium process. The cells in the tissue will slowly equilibrate their sodium chloride (and others) concentration with the surrounding aqueous solution in a passive way. Increasing the temperature will facilitate/speed up the process (as does physical damage to the cells). Along with the flux of water other (flavor relevant) compounds tag along, especially when cell integrity is impaired. You can call this process leaching.

If you braise your meat in a salted stock, chances are that the flux of water goes from the piece from the meat towards the surrounding liquid. If you braise your meat in water, flux will be directed into the meat, leading to a dilution of flavor and possibly leaching of cellular liquid into the surrounding stock. You are not interested in either.
 


 

 

I understand salt can travel through the meat, but this article shows that marinating meat only penetrates the meat a few millimeters.

 

They did a taste test with chicken that was marinated vs non marinated.  They cut off a few millimeters on the surface of the cooked marinated chicken, and the panel could not tell the difference in taste between the marinated cooked chicken and non marinated cooked chicken!  

 

https://www.splendidtable.org/story/2017/06/02/food-myths-busted-by-americas-test-kitchen-marinating-basting-and-boiling

 

This is why I'm taking it one step further and thinking that braising in stock vs braising in water will make no difference as long as you pour sauce on the meat after its cooked.

 

 

Edited by torolover (log)
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Water is a thief of flavor. This can be useful if you want to turn something flavorless (like water) into something delicious (like soup). But it works against you if you're trying to keep food itself flavorful. Traditional braising uses a flavorful liquid to cook meat so that the meat itself becomes seasoned by its (moist, watery) cooking medium to a similar extent that the (moist, watery) cooking medium extracts soluble flavor compounds from the meat. The result of this two-way exchange is that you end up with flavorful meat and a flavorful integral sauce (or the base for the sauce) with minimum effort. Using water instead of stock would leach flavor from the meat, contribute nothing in return, and fail to yield an acceptable sauce. If you're going to make a sauce separately anyway, skip the middleman and just braise the meat by itself with a circulator. This will keep the flavor where you want it. 

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9 hours ago, torolover said:

I understand salt can travel through the meat, but this article shows that marinating meat only penetrates the meat a few millimeters.


Again, there is a bit of mix up here. Let’s talk primarily of salt, not of acidic, oily of whatever “marinades”. 

 

9 hours ago, torolover said:

They did a taste test with chicken that was marinated vs non marinated.  They cut off a few millimeters on the surface of the cooked marinated chicken, and the panel could not tell the difference in taste between the marinated cooked chicken and non marinated cooked chicken!  


I have an issue with articles (scientific or not) that are aimed at a certain goal, yet claim to investigate free of bias. The cited article is geared towards “busting a myth” and subsequently designs the experiments to support the goal. If you marinate a piece of meat, find out to much surprise (although there is plenty of scientific literature) that penetration of the marinate is just a few mm, then remove this part and cook only the interieurs you will get no difference. If you would have understood that the cooking part accelerates the diffusion inside the meat and is part of the process, you would not come up with biased experimental setup, and in return would get apt results. 

 

Plenty of research has gone into salt diffusion in meats, especially where it counts - in curing meats (e.g. briskets, hams, …). Strangely, the cure reaches the center and doesn’t stop at a few mm. If you do the process at elevated temperatures, it speeds up dramatically (about factor 2 for every 10 oC), so if one follows @btbyrds advice to cook with salt in a back, you not only get a perfectly cooked, but also a thoroughly flavored piece of meat.

 

9 hours ago, torolover said:

This is why I'm taking it one step further and thinking that braising in stock vs braising in water will make no difference as long as you pour sauce on the meat after its cooked.


If your sauce is overpowering strong, and you need only the texture of the meat, maybe.

 

If you have a decent (and larger) piece of protein and a delicate sauce, you will be disappointed with the flavors of the meat itself.

 

 

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@Duvel good points on directed studies. I was just reading abut data points and the Carter Racing case study and the tragic Challenger crash. Nice link. I forget about eGCI - thanks

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making infiltration into the meat is a slow process, like curing (think about the cost of 1 year vs 2years or 3 years dry cured meat). The flesh regulates its concentration using sodium-potasium pumps,and they require energy (ATP), and being "alive" tough. Otherwise it will be really slow.... and that's why curing meat is always a slow process, and for good ones, bacteria etc.

Other tissues, like connective, are more friendly to interact/benefit from marinades, and they are everywhere too, surrounding the muscular packages etc of what we normally call meat. They are the friendly ones to get more flavors and liquids from our marinades.

 

I personally avoid touching/cleaning/rinsing anything to be cooked with just freshwater. Not for me.

cheers

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