A braising pan is a specialty piece of cookware that’s designed to slow-cook meat over a low heat. This type of pan typically has relatively high sides and straight edges so the ingredients are fully submerged in liquid. A lid might also be included as part of the design. The name comes from the French word for “to soften,” and was originally used to describe a pot used for caramelizing onions. It’s considered an all-in-one cooking method that allows food to be rapidly browned without over steaming it.
The amount of liquid needed varies depending on the type of food being braised in the pan; choose a ratio that results in a thick sauce after cooking. Braising pans are typically made from heavy-gauge steel or cast iron. Aluminum varieties may be used for lighter foods like poultry. Braising pans can also be used to prepare stews, soups, and other casseroles.
Braising pans are available in a variety of sizes with widths ranging from . The most common dimension ranges from . These types of pans can be rectangular, square, or oval in shape.
Factors to consider when buying a braising pan
Material: Braising pans are made from a variety of materials, and the right kind depends on the cooking method. Aluminum braising pans are best for those who want to cook foods like fish, poultry, and meat that contain high amounts of moisture. Cast iron can be used with most foods, but it is susceptible to rusting over time. Stainless steel models are highly resistant to rust and often come in varying thicknesses depending on demand.
Size: The size of a braising pan depends on a number of factors. Most often, this will be done based on the type of food being cooked, but you should also consider the amount of liquid needed. While some recipes call for very little liquid, others require a large amount. It’s important to choose the right size for proper cooking. If any part of your food is not fully submerged in liquid, it may be undercooked or overly cooked by the time the entire recipe has been completed.
Handle: When choosing a braising pan, you’ll want to pay close attention to the design of the handles. Some have a long handle for maneuverability, while others have curved handles for easier use. The smaller the pan, the more likely you’ll need a wide or long handle. Additionally, some types of pans have wide or flat lids that may need to be held when placed on a stove burner or slow cooker.
Price: Braising pans can vary in price based on their material and size. You’ll most often find stainless models available for a lower price than cast iron and aluminum. You can also compare prices on websites like Amazon and Overstock.com, but keep in mind that buying from a specialty website may result in your pan arriving broken or damaged.
Types of braising pans to choose from
Most recipes will call for a small or medium-sized cast iron braising pan. These are usually made with a thick gauge of steel which makes them lightweight and sturdy. These pans are great for braising meat, vegetables, and anything that can be cut in cubes. For those who prefer a round pan, stainless steel is a good choice as well. Braising pans are also available in other sizes and materials, including square designs for casseroles or recipes that call for smaller amounts of liquid.
Another type of pan is known as a Dutch oven. This type is usually lighter than other large pans, but also harder to find in large sizes since it’s intended to be used over a fire. Consequently, many Dutch ovens are only made in smaller sizes which can be difficult to find. However, they provide extra versatility in the kitchen and can be used for all sorts of cooking tasks.
The downside to Dutch ovens is that they can’t go on the stovetop. Instead, these pans must be used over an open flame or in a slow cooker.
How to use the right braising pan
A braising pan is very versatile and can be used for numerous recipes from soups to stews. Use a large-sized pan for roasts, whole chickens, and other types of meat that require slow cooking over long periods of time. These pans are also best for vegetables or sauces that require long cooking times. To get the best results, sauté your ingredients in a skillet before placing them into your braising pan. You can even use the same skillet you sautéed ingredients in to stir-fry sauces or other types of liquids.
Advantages of using a braising pan
With proper care, a braising pan can last for decades. Stainless steel and aluminum models can be washed with soap and water, while cast iron pans can be left in the oven or dishwasher to ensure they don’t rust.
A braising pan is excellent for cooking at high altitudes since you won’t need to adjust the heat of your stovetop. Since the pan is designed to slowly cook food over a low heat, you can use fewer or even no liquids. Ingredients will also brown and become tender much faster than they would in a conventional oven.
Since braising pans are thick and sturdy, they’re less likely to burn food. If your pan does get too hot, however, you shouldn’t use cold water since this will damage the surface of your pan. Instead, allow it to cool for about 10 minutes before cleaning with hot water and soap.
Disadvantages of using a braising pan
Some may find that they don’t cook food evenly. If you’re cooking more than one dish at a time, it may be better to use multiple pans to ensure every piece of food is cooked evenly. Stainless steel and aluminum models also don’t hold heat as well as cast iron, which means your food may take longer to cook.
You may find that the handles of some pans are too short for your liking. For example, some models have handles that are about one inch long. If you want to use these pans for frying, you may want to consider a taller pot or skillet.