A question i get asked a lot is what is a braiser pan used for. The simple answer is it is usually used to cook meat…but is also used to cook many different foods.
Its shape means that it is versatile and the usual construction of a braiser means that it is effective at cooking.
How does a braiser cook? Well, under normal circumstances they are used to sear meat…brown it on a stovetop. Liquid is usually added and then the braiser with the lid on, is transferred to the oven. The meat is then effectively steamed within the braiser pot as the tight-fitting lid prevents and loss of moisture.
The benefits of this method are clear, the steam cannot escape therefore the food is cooked but remains moist. It also has the effect of breaking down the collagen in meats which leaves it very tender.
You can therefore buy cheap cuts of meat that can taste and feel just as good as an expensive cut.
A braiser is commonly used to cook the following;
- Pot roasts
Cuts of meat that are recommended;
- Beef Brisket
- Braising Steaks
- Beef Rib Trim
- Steak & Kidney
- Shin of Beef
- Ox Cheeks
- Diced Beef Steak
- Beef Kebab Cubes
- Beef Olives
- Topside Roll
- Ribeye Roast
- Silverside Roast
- Beef Back Ribs
- Onglet Pieces
Braiser or dutch oven?
Let us first compare their similarities because there are some obvious ones. Firstly, they are constructed from the same material. For example, Le Creuset Dutch ovens and braisers are both made from cast iron and are enameled.
They are both lidded which is integral to the overall performance. The tight-fitting lids mean that that steam and moisture remains within the cookware.
In terms of tasks, they can both be used as to sear meat and they both move with ease from stove top to the oven. In this respect, they are identical pieces of equipment.
Where they differ is the performance of the task. Braisers are designed to cook meats specifically. They brown the meat and then it transferred to the oven to cook in the steam. They have wide pans and therefore easy access to the contents.
Dutch ovens or cocottes can also be used to brown meat. However, they are taller in shape so that makes it less convenient. The real difference is the height of the dutch oven. They are normally used to stew the food…cook it in liquid. You could also attempt to steam cook the food but they are much less efficient at this than a braiser.
Other advantages of a braiser over a dutch oven include;
- Faster reduction of sauces. The lower sides of a braiser means that steam escapes more easily than a Dutch oven.
- They are generally a little lighter than a Dutch oven of the same size
- Braisers are more accommodating should you need to put a couple in the oven. You probably cannot with a Dutch oven.
Therefore, the choice you make is whether you want to steam cook the food or simmer the food in liquid.
Braiser vs skillet?
The only time this would become and issue to consider is when you are searing meat. The reality that a Skillet can do this equally as well. Especially cast-iron skillets that have been seasoned well.
This is where the comparison stops as they are both designed to do different things. With a braiser, searing is just part of the cooking process. You then transfer to the oven or put the lid on the stove to steam the meat. You cannot do this with a skillet.
What is a braiser pan used for? well searing meat is a major part of its performance. This is where the only real comparison with a skillet can be made.
If you could only have one, I would opt for the braiser as it does everything a skillet can and more. It offers more flexibility and results.
Braiser vs Sauté pan
Just like the skillet comparison, there are a lot of similarities when it comes to browning meats. They are both equally adept at the task. The comparison stops when you need to move on to the next stage…obviously the braiser does that…depending on the recipe of course.
A sauté pan, meaning “to jump” in French, has a wide and flat bottom with relatively tall, vertical sides. This allows you to toss the contents of the pan while you cook. The braiser will not do this because it has no large handle. The sides are also sloped so the food cannot hit a side to ‘toss’.
To summarize, they can both be used to sear meats but essentially, that is where the comparison ends.
Can you braise in a Dutch oven?
Yes, you can braise in a Dutch oven. They perform the task perfectly adequately. Normally they are made from cast iron which is famous for its heat distribution and heat retention. This helps to brown meat in a consistent manner. They are also normally enameled which makes them effectively non-stick surfaces.
We know you can sear perfectly adequately, the question is the next step. Can you braise effectively. The high sides of a Dutch oven make that more difficult. Of course, it can be done but it is much more efficient in a braiser.
Is braising healthy?
It really depends on the ingredients used. If you are searing in fats then it could be argued no. If you aren’t, then it could be argued that it is.
What is clear is the actual braising process is. This is because you are cooking in steam or what is also known as wet heat.
What is braising liquid?
This is the liquid that the braising process takes place in. This is the liquid that the meat sits in that heats up and creates steam. The meats are cooked in this steam.
You need liquid to do this otherwise you are not steaming the meat. You cannot do this ‘dry’. The liquids that are most often used include water, stock, juice, wine or beer.
Can you braise meat on the stovetop?
I always braise in the oven but you can do so on the stovetop. With the lid on, cook it at a medium to low heat. It may be beneficial to use a diffuser.
Depending on the size of the cut, it may take up to three hours on a stovetop.
What are some of the main Braiser brands?
There are many companies that make Braisers…to suit all kinds of budgets. The premium end of the braiser market is dominated by Staub and Le Creuset.
The mid-market is dominated by companies like Lodge, Cuisinart and Tramontina.
However, before you buy a braiser, it is worth reading real reviews of real users. I always find that Amazon is the best place to do this.
Summary – What is a braiser pan used for
What is a braiser pan used for? I hope I have answered your question. The simple answer is to experiment. It is difficult for things to go wrong if you are vigilant and don’t overcook. The answer is be brave and experiment…you learn more this way.
P.S. I love my Braiser 😊
If you have any specific questions, leave a comment and I will get back to you.
Since you are here…can i ask a favor?
It would be really nice if you could pin this image on Pinterest…it’s only a couple of clicks for you but it means the world to me.
Thank you so much …