What You Need to Slow-Cook This Winter November 26, 2018 – Posted in: Cookware, Holidays, Lifestyle, Products
Cold weather calls for slowing down, staying home, and making big, hearty meals that stick to your bones and leave you sleepy and satisfied. It calls for slow-cooked meats and long braises that waft through the house for hours until reaching their ultimate, fall-off-the-bone, melt-in-your mouth potential. Slow-cooking generally involves cooking meat at a low temperature in some form of liquid for a long period of time (though dry heat is also common in barbecue-style cooking). It’s the ultimate cold-weather method, but it doesn’t work with just any pot or pan. You need a braiser and a dutch oven to make it happen. Here’s why:
Braisers Sear and Braise
A braiser is a wide-surfaced vessel that lets you sear a good amount of meat at one time, partially fill it with liquid, and cover it to braise. The wide surface prevents overcrowding so you’ll get a crispy browned crust every time and ensure the liquid comes in contact with each piece. The lid seals in the moisture, returning all those yummy juices back into the meat. Basically, the steam does all the work. When you’re cooking smaller cuts like beef shanks and thicken thighs, the braiser will give you the best results.
Dutch Ovens Braise Big Cuts and Stews
When a big slow-cooked pot roast is what you’re cooking for dinner, you need something different than a braiser: the dutch oven. The dutch oven functions much like a braiser— it’s ideal for locking in moisture and slow-cooking meat to fall-off-the-bone tenderness. A dutch oven is different in that it has higher walls and smaller surface area, making it ideal for braising a single large piece of meat or fully submerging in liquid— think, big brothy stews or beef bourguignon.
What to Look for in a Braiser or Dutch Oven
You need a material that distributes heat evenly, like aluminum or cast iron.
You need handles that can handle lifting juicy meats from the stovetop to the oven, and from the oven to the table.
You need a lid that locks in moisture so it can distribute the steam evenly throughout the dish.
The right interior surface
You need an interior coating that can handle hours of slow-cooking. If you go for cast iron, make sure it has an enamel coating.
You need a vessel that can safely slow-cook in the oven.
At least 3 quarts
You need at least 3 quarts worth of volume so air can circulate and food doesn’t spill.
You need a braiser or dutch oven that looks good on the table, of course