Tips for Braising in Convection for Full Flavor Dishes
Updated: Sep 29, 2022
Braising or slow cooking is one of the most rewarding ways of cooking, not only does meat achieve a tender melt-in-your-mouth texture, the vegetables, and the aromatics used, create a delicious full-flavored sauce. The preparation is fairly easy; however, the cooking time required is generally several hours, but the key to successful braising is temperature control.
Because of the long slow cooking process and the need to maintain a consistent low temperature, recipes for braising typically recommend the cooking be done in a covered oven-safe casserole, or Dutch oven.
Enameled cast iron pans are ideal for braising because once heated they retain a consistent temperature and the tight-fitting lid traps steam in the pan creating the ideal environment for the cooking process.
Understanding the Cooking Modes in Your Oven
A Convection oven has three heating elements; one under the floor of the oven, or in an older oven an exposed heating element, a top heating element, and the Convection fan and heating element in the rear of the oven.
If you select the Bake or Roast mode then the heat will be coming from the bottom and top heating elements.
This means the heat is directed at the pan and if for example, you place the braising pan too close to the bottom heating element then you may risk boiling the liquid instead of gently simmering it.
If the liquid boils too vigorously then the meat may become rubbery or the liquid may cook down too quickly.
The heat in a gas oven and ovens with an exposed heating element is more powerful in the lower part of the oven so, choosing a higher rack position and a temperature reduction of even 5 degrees will help maintain a more consistent heat.
What are the Benefits of Braising in Convection?
When you choose Convection the heated air is circulated around the oven heating the pan from the edge to the center, helping to maintain a consistent even temperature throughout the cooking process. Keeping the pan evenly heated ensures even cooking results.
If your oven has a Convection or True Convection mode this is an ideal choice for braising because heat is only coming from the Convection element, there is no direct heat on the pan. Otherwise, select the Convection Bake mode and place the pan on rack position 2, counting up from the bottom.
Using Convection to braise less tender cuts of meat will not shorten the cooking time however you can easily cook two braises at one time on different racks at one time or add a side dish such as oven polenta or risotto for the final 45 - 50 minutes of cooking time.
Additional Tips for Braising
Cast iron braising pans are heavy so if your oven features extension racks then arrange the racks so you can easily place and remove the braising pan from the oven.
A temperature range of 300 - 325 degrees is ideal for braising; however, there are so many variables to consider: the size of your oven; the type of pan you are cooking in so, pay attention to how your oven cooks until you get a feel for what will work best.
Always have a landing space designated to place the hot pan, and always leave a hot pad or kitchen towel on the hot lid to avoid accidentally picking it up and burning yourself.
When braising meats with more fat it is ideal to remove the meat from the pan once it has cooked and skim off the fat that rises to the top.
If you are cooking a braise a day in advance of serving and the meat needs to be shredded or sliced, first remove the meat from the pan and let it cool. While the meat is cooling, skim the fat from the cooking liquid and discard any aromatics. Slice or shred the meat and refrigerate it in the cooking liquid.
Reheat the braise gently on the cooktop or in the oven before serving.
You will find a selection of delicious recipes on our website including, Braised Duck Legs, Short Ribs, Brisket, Spareribs with Plum Sauce and Braised Turkey with Butternut Squash and of course we will be adding more soon.
Stay tuned for my next Blog Post that will cover the many ways to cook fish in a Convection and Steam oven.
Larissa, Your Convection Enthusiast