Let the Braising Begin–Braised Beef Chuck Roast

by R.B. Quinn and Min Merrell
how to braise chuck roast

Braised beef chuck roast. The comfiest of comfort dishes and easy to make in advance.

One of the best things about braising — it lets you enjoy your own party. Braising is the older-than-dirt, low-temperature, high-moisture, covered-pot method for turning tough, less expensive cuts of meat like shoulders, shanks, short ribs, cheeks, brisket, chicken, and duck into velvety rich, tender bites. Unlike stew, braised meats cook in less liquid, producing a deep, rich sauce. Think pot roast.

These trendy braises are great examples of an economical, home-style comfort food that has trickled up to the restaurant and gotten tricked out by chefs. Braising frees up a cheater chef’s schedule, too. Cooking unattended, a braise lets you move onto other things, like get your sides dishes worked out, set your table, hide the skateboards, fix yourself up, or just get into your relaxed, great party host zone.

Braising needs only a regular oven and a good heavy pot with a lid (a Dutch oven, a Le Creuset or enamel-lined cast iron equivalent available everywhere). It’s about the method, not the meat, so the recipe works basically the same way with all cuts.

First, brown the meat in the pot over high heat on the stove. Then, after adding aromatic vegetables and herbs, chicken or beef stock, and/or wine to the pot, it cooks, covered, in a low oven for a few hours. Fall-apart tender braised meats offer lots of serving possibilities.

Cold season restaurant menus offer takes on braised beef chuck roast like such as fancy beef short ribs, beef cheeks, Osso Bucco, and lamb shanks complemented by a starchy side like potatoes, pasta, gnocchi, polenta, grits, or beans, perfect for absorbing rich meaty juices. Add a contrasting simple wintery green like Brussels sprouts, chard or sautéed spinach. No highly seasoned or creamy sides are necessary because the braised meat is so tantalizing.

Braising is not performance cooking so you won’t be showing off your knife or sautéing skills. However, you also won’t be on the patio in the rain or sweating over a hot stove searing last minute high-heat steaks or chops while your guests are laughing and talking without you. To truly help yourself out, prepare the braise a day or two in advance to allow time for the flavors to meld. By separating the meat from the sauce and refrigerating overnight, the fat will congeal on the top of the sauce for easy removal.

Our Kitchen Pit braise features a good old beef chuck roast, but you can easily substitute short ribs, beef shanks, lamb shanks, or other meats. Just be sure to cook the meat until fork tender. Alter the herbs and vary the liquids to change up the flavor. Red wine, great for cold weather braising, will produce a richer sauce than white. Remember, keep the sides simple and enjoy your own dinner party.

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