Most instructions for stews and braises begin with searing the meat on all sides until well browned. But after reading that British cookbook author Jamie Oliver no longer browns meat for most stews, citing the “cleaner” flavor of meats left unseared, Chowhound ChervilGeorge wonders: Can you really skip this step and still get great results?

JoanN notes that in Molly Stevens’s cookbook All About Braising, the author says that while browning isn’t appropriate for every recipe, it can impart a depth of flavor that’s otherwise impossible to achieve. It also contributes visual appeal, cheesemaestro points out. Braising a large cut of meat or skin-on chicken pieces without browning can result in a pallid, unattractive dish.

Whether or not to brown depends on the flavors of the dish you’re making and which meat you use, ellabee says. While she considers browning crucial to good braised short ribs or beef stew, it’s probably optional for a lamb tagine or heavily spiced pork stew.

Discuss: Browning before braising

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