Braising relies on heat, time, and moisture to break down tough cuts of meat, making it an ideal way to cook grass-fed beef and lamb roasts. Pressure cooking and slow cooking (e.g., crockpots) are forms of braising.
1. Choose a heavy pot with a tightfitting lid. The pot should be roughly the same size as the food you’re putting into it, so less of the liquid evaporates.
2. Coat the bottom of your pot with olive oil and heat over medium-high heat until the oil is shimmering. Pat your meat dry, season it with salt and pepper, and sear it in the pot for about one to two minutes per side (do this in batches if necessary so as not to crowd the pot). You want a nice brown crust to form, so don’t move the meat around while it sears. You can also brown your veggies (a few minutes per side) for an all-vegetable braise. Remove the meat or veggies from the pot.
3. Sauté some onion in the same pot, and if you want it to taste more traditionally Euro, add some celery and carrot. (You can also substitute parsnip for the carrot and celery root for the celery.)
4. Add anything else you want in your braise: seasonings; chunks of other vegetables (hearty root vegetables work well); canned tomato products; dried beans; grains; dried mushrooms; dried fruit; etc.
5. Place the meat back in the pot and add broth, stock, water, alcohol, or any combination of those liquids till it reaches one-third of the way up the food, then bring to a simmer.
6. Cover tightly and place in the oven at 200-225 degrees Fahrenheit. Check after about 25 minutes to make sure you’ve got a slow, mellow simmer going. If the mixture is boiling, reduce the temperature by 10 degrees and recheck after 10 or 15 minutes. If it’s not simmering, increase the temperature by 10 degrees. Braise for 2 1/2 to 3 hours, turning the meat halfway through, until the meat is falling off the bone and the veggies and beans (if you used any) are tender. Remove from the oven.
7. Shred the meat and put it back in the pot. Finish with fresh herbs if desired; add vinegar, mustard, or lemon juice if the dish tastes flat. You can also remove the food from the pot and cook down the liquid to make a thicker gravy (potato starch or arrowroot are great gluten free thickeners).