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How to keep braised meat moist

braised lamb shank

Question:

After I braise my lamb shoulder, how do I keep it moist for service?

– Osei Blackett, Chef-Owner, Picky Eaters Restaurant, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Answer:

By using shoulder rather than a leaner, more delicate cut, you are definitely on the right track to moist, succulent lamb.

Some suggestions:

  • Braised meats are often tastier the next day after they’ve had time to rest and flavors can meld. If your setup allows, braise meats the day before service and properly chill using the two-stage method—140 F (60 C) to 70 F (21 C) within two hours and to 41 F (5 C) within four hours—keeping in mind local regulations may be more stringent.
  • Always allow braised meats to rest and chill in the liquid. Studies show that as the cooked meat cools, it will absorb more of the flavorful braising liquid. A common mistake is to remove the meat from the liquid for chilling—while it will cool things more efficiently (the liquid and fat of the liquid retain heat), it will result in a loss of moistness.
  • A lot of dryness may result from improper holding over long periods. For example, if you hot hold your shoulder in an open steam table, the surface of the meat will dry out, especially if you are not rotating it frequently and don’t have adequate liquid. If your volume for this item is modest, consider portioning the lamb cold, in some sauce, and heating it to order.
  • If your volume is higher, make sure you are hot holding in a cabinet that allows for moist heat. I like the CVap from Winston, but as long as your equipment has the functionality you need, brand doesn’t much matter.
  • Finally, if it works better, you can heat and hold smaller portions more frequently.

More on keeping large cuts moist here

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