Braised Beef

By Published On: 3 Jul '24Last Updated: 3 Jul '24

My Braised Beef is a one-pot Indian inspired beef delicacy that is simple, flavourful and made on stove! It features an affordable cut of beef that is flavoured with umami rich braising liquid of onion, garlic and a few pantry spices to transform into a juicy flavourful dish. No fancy ingredients to search for, you just need to coax out the deep and complex flavours of the steak with gentle heat and long cooking.

A Braised Beef dinner is so homely and comforting on a cold winter’s night. A dinner with braised beef warms you from the inside and makes you wish that winter would hang around just a little bit longer!

What is Braising?

Braising is a very old technique of cooking food using a combination of wet and dry heat. The meat is first seared or browned at a high temperature and then finished in a tightly covered pot at a mere simmering point, in a modest amount of liquid. Braising tenderizes a tough cut of meat so much, so the meat is tender enough to tear apart at the touch of a fork.

Some of the popular braised beef dishes include beef stew, braised flank steak, short ribs and brisket.

Braising can be done on the stove top, in the oven, slow cooker or pressure cooker.

What cut of Beef and Where to buy?

Braising works best with the toughest and lesser-known cuts of meat, because the slow cooking method breaks down the connective tissue and tenderizes the meat.

Typically, braises are made with cost effective yet flavourful boneless beef cuts such as, chuck steak and gravy beef. These cuts have little fat and are suitable for long and slow cooking. I have made braises with flank steak, gravy beef and chuck steak.

You may use any of these steaks for braising. The key to a good braise is the intentional slow cooking, in a tightly covered pot on a bare simmering temperature either on the stovetop, oven, pressure cooker or slow cooker.

If you have never tried them, let me walk you through some of these lesser known, yet incredibly delicious beef cuts:

FLANK STEAK – It is a wide, flat thin beefy steak taken from a single muscle in the abdomen area beneath the loin. It is a lean cut, which means it is much tougher than most other steaks. It has a unique taste which can be enhanced by seasoning and marinades as it absorbs marinades really well. Find at: your local butcher or any butchers. Also available at your local Coles, Woolworths or Harris Farm. It usually comes one steak per pack or occasionally 2 steaks per pack.

GRAVY BEEF – It comes from three areas – the front leg (shin), the hind leg and the neck area. It is a tough cut, with a coarse grain and a little fat. With plenty of connective tissue, it makes a good cut for slow cooking/braising. Because of its coarse grain, it stays together in chunks making it perfect for curries, stews and braises.

BRISKET – It is a well exercised muscle from the underside chest area between the front legs with ample connective tissue.

  • Navel End Brisket – square shaped and slices up neatly. Great for braising in the oven, stove top or slow cooker.
  • Point End Brisket – One of the best suited cuts for braising and casseroling, as it literally falls apart when cooked.

CHUCK STEAK – A prized and flavourful cut from the shoulder area. This steak also requires longer cooking time (2.5 hours to 3 hours) to tenderize because it is a tough steak. Find at: At your local butcher, Coles, Woolworths and Harris Farm Markets.

BLADE STEAK – From the shoulder blade and is a very versatile cut. Great for curries, braising, slow cooking, cutting into strips and stir frying. Find at: Your local butcher. Woolworths and Coles do not stock this steak anymore.

BEEF SHANKS/BEEF SHINS – From the leg, very tough and chewy but is well suited for braising.

And where can you buy these steaks?

With the exception of blade steak (check with your local butcher as the supermarkets do not stock blade steaks anymore), you will be able to buy them at your local Woolworths, Coles Supermarket and some Harris Farm Markets.

HINT – If your butcher does not stock blade steak, use gravy beef or chuck steak. You may also use flank steak or brisket – both will cost you more than gravy beef or chuck steak.

Can I use my Casserole Dish

For the stovetop method, I have used my non-stick saucepan and not a casserole dish. Non-stick pans do a perfectly good job braising the beef on the stovetop.

I have a good casserole dish which I use for braising in the oven however, I did not use this casserole dish on my stovetop to sear/brown the meat, as I was not certain that my casserole dish would go on the stovetop.

Most casserole dishes can withstand temperatures of up to 300°C (572°F) or more, however, you must always check the manufacturer’s guidelines for the exact heat resistance of your specific casserole dish.

HINT: If in doubt, do not use it on the stovetop or oven. It will save you many tears and heartache! Use an ovenproof dish that you normally use instead!

  • Do not use casserole dishes that are made with only ceramics as their components are limited and they are not safe to use on the stovetop and oven.
  • Use casserole dishes that are specifically marked suitable for all cook tops by the manufacturer. Many high-end casserole dishes sold today can go only in the oven and not on the stovetop.
  • Casserole dishes that go on the stovetop are mostly made of cast iron (eg. Dutch Oven), as cast iron can withstand temperatures from different sources.

HINT: If you are planning to purchase a casserole dish, look out for the one marked safe to go over a stovetop or suitable for all cook tops.

what you will need to make Braised Beef

As you can see from the image below, the ingredients to make Braised Beef are a fusion of basic Indian and Chinese pantry staples – Kashmiri chilli powder, pepper powder, turmeric powder and then the Chinese counterpart – tomato sauce, oyster sauce and vinegar/Chinese cooking wine.

Combine the spice powders with oil and salt and voila! the make-it-yourself spice marinade is ready in 3 minutes. Half the job done!

Then braise the beef with a handful of other simple ingredients such as onion, garlic, ginger, tomato sauce and oyster sauce, to turn your tough cut of beef into a delicious weekend family dinner!

Just remember to coax the deep and complex flavours of beef with gentle heat and long cooking!

Here’s what goes into making my humble delicious Braised Beef:

  • Boneless beef chuck steak – Choose a budget friendly cut. Chuck steak is a heavily exercised muscle from the shoulder area with lots of flavour and works best for braising. Find at: Woolworths and Coles Supermarkets priced at around $11.00 for $750g pack. Alternate cutsGravy beef at around $12.00 for a 750g Pack or Grassfed Beef Flak Steak – on the higher side at $8.00 for a 300g pack.
  • The spice marinade – Beef chuck relies greatly on the flavourful braising liquid to tenderise the meat during the slow cooking. Marinating and cooking with care can transform the tough texture of chuck into a flavourful treat. The spices in this Braised Beef marinade are Kashmiri Chilli Powder, pepper powder and turmeric powder.
    • Kashmiri chilli powder – For a lovely chilli kick without the bite. Increase or decrease to your taste. Find at: All Indian supermarkets and some large Coles Supermarkets. My preferred brand is ‘Pattu’ and comes in 250g packs in Coles. Use only the chilli powder marked as ‘Kashmiri chilli powder’ as chilli powders marked ‘HOT chilli powder’ will be very spicy for this recipe. Just be mindful of using HOT chilli powder – check the label!
    • Pepper powder – Nothing out of the ordinary. Adds a different layer of spice to the marinade and goes very well with chilli powder.
    • Turmeric powder – It is a big part of Indian cuisine and is used to add colour and a mild overall flavour to most Indian meats, vegetables and fish dishes.
  • Vinegar – I like the sharpness of white vinegar and I have used white vinegar for this recipe. Milder alternatives: equal amount of white wine vinegar or Chinese cooking wine. Use any supermarket brand of Chinese cooking wine such as Blue Label or Shao Shing. Using expensive wines is not going to make much difference to the final dish!
  • Onion, Garlic and Ginger (aromatics) – For loads of good flavours. Onion also helps to thicken the sauce, while garlic and ginger add texture to the thick savoury sauce. Dice the onions, slice the garlic and chop the ginger!
  • Stock – It forms the braising liquid. Beef braises in this bath of chicken/beef stock that is seasoned with onion, garlic, ginger, tomato sauce, oyster sauce, thyme, vinegar/Chinese cooking wine, sugar and star anise. The meat goes tender and flavourful resulting in a thick, luscious mahogany coloured caramelised sauce.
  • Tomato Sauce and Oyster Sauce – Tomato sauce works as acid to break down the tissues in beef creating the most tender meat, while the flavourful oyster sauce works as a natural source of umami. Add only what is called for in the recipe, as excess oyster sauce will render the final dish salty!!
  • The aromatics – Fresh thyme and star anise – Rarely used in Indian cooking, fresh thyme gives subtle citrusy flavour and pairs well with beef in this braised beef. A pod of star anise will infuse the braising liquid with a unique layer of aroma. Add to the braising liquid when you start braising and remove the woody stems and pod before serving, as the pod is not meant to be eaten.
  • Sugar – For a bit of sweetness to round off the savoury flavours.
  • Spring Onions – a perfect garnish that adds a pop of colour and freshness!
  • Toasted sesame seeds – Adds elegance to the presentation and makes an attractive garnish!

watch how to make braised beef

how to make Braised Beef on the stovetop!

Here’s my easy Step-by-Step tutorial for making Braised Beef on the stovetop. Refer to Recipe card below on how to make Braised Beef in the oven.

The full instructions to make this Braised Beef are in the recipe card below, but here are some helpful tips to go along with the process photos.

Chef’s Tip: This recipe takes about 1¾ hour to braise on stovetop. Braising is all about cooking the tough cuts of meat slowly over a few hours to bring out the flavours and to make it fork tender. Do not rush with the cooking or the meat will be disappointingly chewy.

At the end of cooking, you will end up with a tender steak that you can leave whole or slice. If you like fall apart tender/shredded meat, top up with 1 cup of water and braise for an extra 15 minutes (1¾ hour + 15 minutes = 2 hours).

Here’s what we are trying to achieve at each step:

Step 1

Prepare Beef and marinade

Bring beef to room temperature 1 hour before cooking. Pat dry with paper towel. Make the marinade by combining salt, ground pepper, turmeric powder, Kashmiri chilli powder, and oil in a rectangular dish. Marinate beef for 15 minutes.

Step 2

Sear beef and sauté aromatics

Drizzle oil into a large stovetop non-stick saucepan (with a well-fitting lid) over medium heat, until hot. Sear beef until brown for 3-4 minutes on each side, in batches if necessary. Remove to a bowl. Sauté onions for 2 minutes. Add ginger and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes.

Step 3

Deglaze Pan with stock and add sauces and herbs

Deglaze the pan with beef/chicken stock, scraping the bottom and sides to remove anything that sticks, and to release the flavour. Add the sauces, herbs and vinegar/cooking wine. Stir to combine thoroughly.

Step 4

Start Braising

Add the beef back to the pan along with any juices. Stir gently to distribute the braising liquid around and bring to the boil. Now reduce heat to a bare simmer. Pop the lid and braise for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, open lid and turn over the steaks. Continue braising for a further 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding water (½ cup increments) and stirring through if necessary.

Step 5

Finish Braising

Taste and season with sauces, vinegar and sugar, if required. Stir gently, pop the lid on and continue braising for 30-40 minutes. Stir every 10 minutes and check the level of braising liquid. Add water in ½ cup increments, if required. We want just enough sauce to serve with beef. Remove pan from heat.

Step 6

Skim off surface fat, slice beef, Garnish with spring onions and sesame seeds

If you want to skim off fat, do so at this point and slice the beef. You may also serve whole steak along with some sauce. Garnish with spring onions and sesame seeds. TIP: You can also garnish with coriander leaves, if you have them handy.