Braising is a combination of cooking methods to render tough cuts of meat and fibrous vegetables succulent and tender. Usually, food is first sautéed or browned for color and flavor, then cooked slowly in a small amount of liquid in an airtight pot. This creates a moist, steamy cooking environment that gently breaks down hard-to-chew connective tissue and muscle and releases the food's own juices. The browned meat is often set on a bed of chopped aromatic vegetables, which later may be puréed, mixed with pan juices and used as a sauce. Any casserole dish with a tight-fitting lid is suitable for braising. It is important that the vessel be of a material that conducts heat evenly and efficiently to prevent scorching evenly and hot spots. The pot should not be much larger than the meat plus its liquid, so that the heat will be directed to the meat rather than the empty spaces.
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