Braising—slow cooking in liquid—is an easy way to tenderize food and to bring out intense, gutsy flavors.
You begin by sautéing—browning the meat in a small amount of oil or butter. (Although you could skip this step if you're in a hurry, it gives both the meat and the pan juices a deep color and rich taste.) Then slowly add a small amount of liquid such as broth, wine or water to the pan—it should reach about halfway up the sides of the meat. Cover the pan tightly to keep in the moisture and heat. Whether you're braising on the stove or in the oven, finish cooking the food at a low temperature by simmering, not boiling, the liquid.
It is good to braise in a heavy six- or eight-quart Dutch oven, which is also excellent for larger cuts of beef, veal or pork. A large skillet or roasting pan can do the job as long as the food is completely covered by the lid.
How do you know when it's done? You should be able to cut the meat with a fork. You can make the dish ahead of time, cover it, and refrigerate it for a couple of days. It's even better reheated.