The techniques of braising and roasting are integral cooking skills that transform ordinary ingredients into meals that will impress even your most critical dinner guests. Incorporating either method makes a meal feel special and will fill your home with a tantalizing aroma long before the dish is brought to the table. But what is the difference between a roast and a braise?
It’s all in the amount of liquid.
Related Reading: A Simple Chef Trick for the Most Flavorful Braise Ever
Roasting and braising are both ideal for tougher cuts of meat that are often less expensive but require a little more love to coax out their virtues. They are also optimal ways to turn an ordinary root vegetable into something extraordinary.
Fall (and winter) is the perfect time to invite braising and roasting into your cooking arsenal. Even though both techniques rely on longer cooking times and are transformative in their ability to turn an ordinary ingredient into something exceptional, there are significant differences between them.
Braising is a method that relies upon both wet and dry techniques to complete the cooking process. An ingredient is typically quickly seared in a very hot pan to jumpstart the method. It is then placed in the oven to complete the process. Liquid is added during the second phase and the cooking temperature is low to medium, enabling enough time for the ingredient to become tender and flavorful.
A Dutch oven is a great tool for braising, as you can use it on the stovetop to brown the meat and vegetables, then add liquid and cover with the lid to braise on the stove or in the oven.
Classic 5.5-Quart Dutch Oven, $95 at Milo
This affordable Dutch oven from online brand Milo comes with a lifetime guarantee.
Related Reading: The 10 Best Dutch Ovens to Buy in 2020
This low and slow cooking method is ideal for tougher cuts of meat since it transforms its collagen into gelatin which thickens the cooking sauce and adds luxurious flavor. Beef stew, short ribs, oxtail, pork belly, and chicken legs are all ideal braising partners, as are root vegetables, Brussels sprouts, and just about anything else that will hold up during the process and benefit from a velvety sauce and enticing flavor.
Roasting is a process that relies upon dry heat to complete the cooking process. This can be completed in a roasting pan or sheet tray in the oven, on a grill, or even an open flame. The temperature varies from low to high depending upon the ingredient and desired outcome.
The tempting flavor of roasted dishes comes from the caramelization or browning that takes place as it cooks. Basting with liquid throughout the process increases the flavor and also prevents scorching.
Related Reading: Why Roasting Makes Vegetables Taste Sweeter
Roasting results in a drier external surface than braising but as long as the temperature is controlled and the ingredients are basted properly, the interior is usually moist and tender. Chicken, beef, pork, fish, and countless vegetables are ideal dancing partners for roasting.
Cuisinart Chef's Classic Stainless Steel 16-Inch Roasting Pan with Rack, $37 on Amazon
Use with the lid on for more moisture and take it off for a crisp skin on poultry.
Braising & Roasting Recipes
Now that you know the difference, try some of these recipes that demonstrate each technique.
Braising and short ribs were made for one another. Short ribs are an inexpensive, tough cut of meat but braising coaxes out their velvety texture and rich, deep flavor. The most excellent union is celebrated in this recipe with the addition of a rich, sweet and sour balsamic glaze. Get the Instant Pot Short Ribs recipe.
This wonder of a meal is sure to satisfy a hunger crowd just in from the cold and enough flavor to impress the most finicky amongst them. Chicken drumsticks are braised slowly with white wine, garlic, and chicken broth in a simple recipe that is as easy and inexpensive as it is flavorful and comforting. Get the Garlic Braised Chicken Legs recipe.
Braising isn’t just for chicken, beef, or pork. It’s also a lovely way to transform ordinary root vegetables like the carrots and parsnips in this recipe into a side or main course that is as healthful as it is satisfying. Orange juice plus its zest, oregano, and thyme ratchet up the appeal while chicken stock adds depth and nuance. Get the Orange-Braised Carrots and Parsnips recipe.
Brussels sprouts are begging for a long roasting process that transforms them into tender bites of fall flavor while blackening their leaves for just the right amount of crispy toastiness. With just six ingredients and a few minutes of preparation time, this is the ideal recipe for a weeknight meal that needs something a little extra. Lemons add brightness, punching up the flavor even more. Get the Crispy Lemon Roasted Brussels Sprouts recipe.
Roasting pumpkin transforms this tough vegetable into pillowy bites of autumn perfection. In this recipe, bite-sized pieces of pumpkin are roasted with honey and balsamic, a combination resulting in a lively flavor tempered by a candied hint of sweetness. Feta cheese adds an additional hint of tartness while chili flakes infuse it with a flash of fire. Get the Roast Pumpkin recipe.
Straight out of Tuscany comes this roasted pork loin recipe that will fill your home with a tempting aroma long before the tender meat roasted low and slow with apples arrives at the table. Garlic and white wine round out a dish as fitting for a lazy Sunday family day as it is for a weekend gathering of friends. Get the Roasted Pork Loin with Apples recipe.
Related Video: How to Make the Best Garlic Pot Roast
Header image by Chowhound