Chefs often refer to braising liquid as “liquid gold" because it transforms whatever it touches into a succulent, rich plate full of concentrated flavor. You might think braising liquid is a one-and-done situation, but really, you can use it over and over again to enrich recipes and speed up cook times, as long as you store it properly. The possibilities are just about endless, from seasoning lentils to flavoring soup. You could even make an argument for drinking it straight up—we don't judge. So please, don’t throw the remains from your braise away, but instead learn all the many ways you can reap the benefits from upcycling the leftover liquid.
01 of 07
For long-term use, you’ll need to freeze your braising liquid.
- To do this, cool down your liquid to room temperature, then skim the fat off the surface and pour into an ice tray. Once the braising liquid freezes, transfer it from an ice tray into a sealed container or bag to stash away for future recipes.
- Cube-sized portions of braising liquid are far easier to incorporate into recipes at a whim, so you’ll be more likely to use it.
- Reinforce fresh stocks by dropping in a few cubes, or replace your stock altogether in recipes that don’t need to cook quite as long, like this Asian braised bok choy.
02 of 07
If you want to impart your grains with a deep and rich flavor, cooking them in braising liquid instead of water will get you there.
- This is especially useful for grain-forward dishes like a katsudon pork rice bowl or farro risotto, where the starch will absorb the liquid for an aromatic finish.
- What’s more, have fun layering flavors from both your stock-infused grains and additional ingredients, resulting in a more complex, nuanced dish.
- Don't let these starches have all the fun; let your pot of polenta and grits get in on the action for a hearty breakfast bowl or dinner side.
03 of 07
Legumes are a pantry staple, providing great nutrients at an affordable price. That said, their inherent flavor is relatively mild, so cooking them down in a robust stock will deliver a winning dish.
- As a general rule, the heartier and meatier the legume, the richer the braising liquid should be.
- Using braising liquid with your legumes is a great way to achieve an umami flavor if you're not using meat, like in this vegetarian Boston baked beans. Simply replace a portion of the wet ingredients with your braising liquid and you won’t miss a beat.
04 of 07
Many of the classic mother sauces and their offshoots are built from a stock and thickening agent. This means that your extra braising liquid is the perfect base for making a variety of sauces.
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- Create a freezer of instant sauce for dishes like Korean braised short ribs and pork loin steaks with mushroom stroganoff sauce.
- Enrich a hearty pasta sauce like bolognese all while cutting down the cook time.
- You can thicken your braising liquid for a new take on a traditional Hollandaise for a bit of flair at your next brunch.
- Apart from sauce making, you can get creative with dips, gravies, and marinades.
05 of 07
Braising liquid can be paired with many cooking methods, so there’s no need to limit yourself to thinking within the framework of a single recipe.
06 of 07
Dumplings are a beloved dish found in many different cuisines, which is exciting news if you’re in the business of repurposing braising liquid.
- Introduce your liquid into soup dumplings, Turkish meat dumplings, or use it to simmer drop dumplings.
- High collagen braising liquids are perfect for soup dumplings, while low collagen braising liquids are suitable for recipes like drop dumplings.
- You can easily gauge the collagen level and consistency of your liquid by cooling it down to room temperature, which will look more gelatinous as collagen content increases.
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Once you’ve got the hang of both making braises and using the leftover liquid, why not experiment?
- A compound butter fortified with a gelatinous stock may not be a recipe you’ve heard of before, but you should add it to your menu.
- Or why not riff on bacon jam and make a braise jam? With some technique and additional ingredients, it may very well be the perfect thing to smear on a sandwich.
- Boil potatoes in your braising, then turn them into the ultimate side of mashed potatoes.
- Or, simply stir it into your next scramble or stir-fry.