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So im still an intro cook, and this really isn't lazyness more than curiosity...

But every "pot roast" or "beef stew" aka "Rustic" recipe that you'd think would go in a cast iron pot is always seared on a pan before put into the Pot.

Are there any recipes where you don't do this? As in cook it all the way through on stove top, OR all the way through in the oven.

I imagine it'd be slower, but I like cooking slow. Plus.....it seems like thats the way our ancestors would've done it since they had just fire and a big pot at one point. Im not saying this is the best way..but are there still good recipes where you do just this?

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This is a very open and vague question; I am sorry to say I have to vote to close it, although you can edit it to improve it. We don't generally allow recipe requests. I will say, though, cast iron dutch ovens are ideal for searing then braising. Sear in the dutch oven stove top, then put in the oven to finish the braise. Or lower the flame to just keep it at a bare simmer, and finish stove top. Combined stove top and oven cooking is very, very common and good cookware like stainless steel or cast iron with metal handles will let you do it. –  SAJ14SAJ Mar 19 '13 at 3:46
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@SAJ14SAJ Read it as asking about techniques or broad categories of recipes, not a recipe request. –  Jefromi Mar 19 '13 at 3:51
    
@jefromi Oops wrong question.... but I take your point. I can write an answer to that. Can you cancel the closure vote with your vast mod-ly powers? –  SAJ14SAJ Mar 19 '13 at 3:53
    
Ah, Well yeah I more meant Broad Categories not specific recipes –  Mercfh Mar 19 '13 at 4:04
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Mercfh, you have enough reputation, so why not join us in our chat room, Frying pan from time to time. There you can ask or talk about whatever you want, and there are no "on topic" rules to obey. We are also quite wierd, and I think, sometimes, even entertaining. –  SAJ14SAJ Mar 19 '13 at 4:16
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1 Answer

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Why stove top and why oven?

The stove top provides high heat for searing, which generates browning (the famous maillard reaction) which creates delicious, savory flavor components.

The oven provides an even, gentle heat for longer cooking without burning.

The beauty of the braise

Braising is a technique where a food, usually a meat, is cooked slowly in a moist environment, partially covered with water. It is an ideal technique for tougher, generally less expensive meats, because it converts collagen to gelatin, changing the meat from tough to meltingly tender and wonderful.

Braising is more common than you might think. Chili con carne, and pot roast, osso bucco and coque au vin are all braised recipes.

Searing and braising

Many braising recipes start with a sear, which is most commonly done stove top, because of the high intense heat that is easy to generate. Alternate methods would be to use a broiler or an outdoor grill, but these are often not as convenient. The purpose is to generate the savory flavors (not as the old kitchen myth said, "to seal in juices").

Then the dish is finished in its liquid (which will later usually become the sauce) at a much more gentle cooking pace.

Braising is flexible

You can braise in the oven. The advantage is the heat is very even and predictable, and you can just let the pot sit in the oven for 2, 3, or even 4 hours without worrying about burning or sticking.

You can braise on the stove top, with a gentle flame (or lower electric element setting). You simply adjust to leave the pot contents at a slow simmer (bubbles form lazily, not continuously). There is slighty more risk of burning, and the occassional stir might not hurt, but especially with a good pan, no risk.

So almost any braising recipe can be easily converted to be stovetop only, by simply... erm... using the stove top for the long braising time. I prefer the oven personally, but that is a matter of convenience and easy control.

Quality cookware

Quality cookware like good multi-ply stainless steel, or your now famous dutch oven (from your previous questions) is ideal for braising because it can be used for both the sear (just like a cast iron pan) and for the slow braising portion. No need to dirty two pots or pans.

Recipes that are just stovetop

There are a countless myriad recipes that you can cook in your cast iron just on the stove top.

Anything:

  • Fried
  • Deep fried
  • Boiled
  • Braised

The one thing you may choose to avoid doing is highly acidic recipes, like tomato sauce, which are not great for your seasoning. On the other hand, in rotation with other recipes that rebuild the seasoning, or just doing some direct seasoning, there is no true harm done either.

Recipes that are just the oven

There are many recipes that would only be done in the oven.

Many braises skip the searing part. Even recipes that call for it can be done without, at some loss of flavor.

Any recipe you see for a crockpot can be done in a dutch oven in the regular oven.

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Very helpful comment thank you. I think I do want to try my hand at a Steak (I have a 12 inch Cast Iron Skillet). Since everyone seems to say "Cast iron" is the only way to cook a steak. –  Mercfh Mar 19 '13 at 4:08
    
Get ye then to the web site "Serious Eats". seriouseats.com/2012/12/… –  SAJ14SAJ Mar 19 '13 at 4:10
    
@Mercfh cast iron isn't the only way to cook steak. Its one of the better ways, especially for finishing one after heating it low-temp ("sous vide"). Without the low-temp step, its definitely a runner up to the wood or charcoal grill. –  derobert Mar 19 '13 at 15:52
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