Chatelaine Kitchen

Braising vs. slow-cooking

Whether you prefer the ease of a slow-cooker or a more hands-on approach with stovetop cooking, we have easy tips and recipes for both — directly from our associate food editor's kitchen.

Chicken mulligatawny soupPhoto, John Cullen

Chicken mulligatawny soup
Photo, John Cullen.

When the ice storm hit last December, chicken mulligatawny soup was simmering in my 20-year-old slow-cooker. The lights went out and the power outage lasted two days. But the soup, reheated in the fireplace, warmed all five of us as we huddled under a mountain of flannel blankets.

Wintry storms aside, my slow-cooker gets a lot of use through the year — with peak season starting in December, running through the end of March. Moist pork carnitas and tender beef brisket with caramelized onions are two family favourites. (And the convenience of not having to tend to it after the ingredients go in earns high marks from me!)

The stovetop and oven get equal time though — and on any given weekend, the smell of fennel and orange or meats braising also fills the house.

You can do the math on which cooking method will save you more time and energy, but each time my family gathers for dinner, I’m thankful we have these two great options to choose from.

Braise vs. Slow-Cook

Slow cooking

  • Make sure you have a tightly sealed lid on your slow cooker, so the liquid doesn’t evaporate. (Most slow-cookers will have a lid that seals easily.)
  • Filling the insert just half to two-thirds full (with enough liquid to cover the meat and veggies) is the best way to go.

Braising

  • For the budget-conscious, large, inexpensive meat cuts like an eye of round roast or blade roast are ideal.
  • Make sure to season and brown meat in a heavy pot with a tight-fitting lid.
  • Add just a bit of liquid and simmer over low heat for an hour or two. (So when the laundry and cleaning is done, dinner is ready.)

Find more of our favourite slow-cooker recipes here!