Would you still need a braiser if you have a skillet, a Dutch oven, and plenty of pots and pans in your kitchen?
It’s a piece of cookware that may seem like a limited pan used explicitly for braising, but braisers are a “one-pot wonder,” as you can use it for a wide range of cooking styles.
But what is it exactly and do you need one? Let’s understand what a braiser is, if you need one, and whether or not you should get one for your kitchen.
What is a Braiser?
To define braiser, it is a type of pan designed for the cooking method called braising. Braising involves searing food over high heat, usually tough meats or hard vegetables, over the stove until color develops, lowering the heat, closing the lid, and letting the dish finish by slow cooking.
Braising depends on heat, moisture, and time to break down collagen, the tough tissue that connects meats. Collagen binds the muscle fibers together, and once this breaks down, you get soft and easy to break apart pieces of meat.
Pressure cooking and slow cooking are other forms of braising, and this cooking method is used extensively in Asian cuisine, particularly in Chinese, Vietnamese, and Taiwanese cuisine.
Examples of braised dishes include pot roast, braised pork belly, Swiss steak, and many others.
While a braiser is designed for braising dishes, you can use one for a wide variety of cooking, such as sauteing, frying, searing, shallow frying, roasting, and boiling.
The Design of a Braiser
It’s important to talk about the design of a braiser because its features allow it to cook dishes differently.
A braiser is usually broad and heavy, with high sides, and features a lid with a knob or loop. It also features handles for easy transport and has sloped sides to hold liquids safely.
The sides of a braiser are usually 2 to 3 inches tall, and the bottom features an oval or circular shape. The base is broad by design to fit large pieces of meat into them.
Cast iron or enameled ceramics are the usual materials of a braiser. The pot can be used on a stovetop and oven and can be used to store food in the fridge.
The braiser’s design is specifically made to retain high levels of heat. The tight-fitting lid prevents steam and moisture from escaping the dish, and the effect is that tough meats are tenderized.
Trapping steam and moisture also helps retain the flavor and juices of dishes, creating a flavorful, tender, and juicy dish.
Related: Ceramic vs Stainless Steel Cookware
What is the Difference Between a Braiser, a Dutch Oven, and a Skillet?
A braiser and a Dutch oven are very similar, and both can be constructed of enameled cast iron. Both have handles, as well as tight-fitting lids. Both types of cookware can also be used on a stovetop and in an oven.
However, Dutch ovens are usually heavier and bulkier, which means they are not ideal for daily cooking. Braisers are also shallower, wider, and their sides are sloped. A Dutch oven is more of a pot than a pan, while a braiser is more of a pan.
On the other hand, skillets are mainly used for daily use, and they’re great for searing and sauteing. Skillets also offer excellent heat retention, but they’re limited when adding large amounts of liquid or cooking over long periods.
What makes a braiser the best cookware option is that it can act as both a pot and a pan and can be used similar to a Dutch oven and a skillet.
It’s the most versatile kind of cookware as it is easy to use, multipurpose, and can be used as a daily addition to your kitchen.
What to Look for When Buying a Braiser
If you’ve never bought a braiser before, here are some things to look out for when you decide to buy one:
1. The Thickness of the Ceramic or Cast Iron
Ensure that the walls have a consistent thickness around the braiser. Uniform thickness means it will produce even heat throughout the pan. Make sure the base of the pan is also thick, as it needs to retain heat and prevent heat spots.
Related: How to clean ceramic pan
2. Three Coatings of Enamel
Enamel protects the cast iron and prevents iron from mixing with the food. High-quality braisers typically have three enamel coatings, making the pan last longer.
3. The Lid is Tight Fitting
Ensure the lid is tight-fitting, which is essential in retaining heat and moisture within the pan.
For a versatile piece of cookware, consider Xtrema’s Versa skillet with a lid, as this ceramic cookware is technically a braiser. Though it’s called a skillet, its design resembles a braiser and serves the purpose of a Dutch oven and a skillet at the same time.
Top-quality braisers manufactured by top-quality brands ensure that you get the best results and value for your money.
A braiser is a versatile, easy-to-use, and convenient piece of cookware that every home chef should have in their kitchen. If you’re wondering whether you need one, this article clearly shows that you should get one for your kitchen collection.
It may be too bulky for everyday cooking if you have a Dutch oven. If you have a skillet, it’s limited when cooking with liquids and over long hours. A braiser does everything a Dutch oven and a skillet can, which means if you have one, you won’t ever need to have either of the two cookware.
Whether you’re cooking lamb shanks, short ribs, or other tough cuts of meat, a cast iron braiser will give you the best-tasting and tender meats you’ll ever have.