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Do I Need to add sugar to make my braising liquid into a glaze?

post #1 of 10
Thread Starter 

I've seen a lot of mention in various recipes of adding a small amount of sugar, honey, etc to a braising liquid at the end, after removing the meat, then reducing it by about half to turn it into a glaze which is then applied to the ribs before broiling, or repeatedly spooned over while in a hot pan, in order to obtain a nice glossy glaze over the ribs.  

 

If the recipe I'm working with includes veggies that have a good bit of natural sugars in them - carrots and beets for example - do I still need to add the additional sugar/honey, or can I rely on those natural sugars to create the glaze I am looking for?  

 

Any thoughts on this, or on alternative ways to have a nice glossy/glazed finished product are welcome.  

post #2 of 10

The sugar is a cheat.

 

Yes, you have lots of natural sugars in onions, carrots, etc.  But if you want the high-shine, you need gelatin.  This comes from the meat juices themselves,(assuming you use meats with lots of connective tissue)  and can be supplemented with things like pig's trotters, calf's feet (both of the last two  are split and blanched first) or chicken/turkey wing tips.

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post #3 of 10
It's cheating? I don't do glazes but I thought that glazes need some kind of sweetness like ketchup or honey or something like that to make them sticky and sweet.

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #4 of 10

I think it really depends on what end result you are looking for. Honey glazed ham comes to mind right away as an example of a sweet glazed savory dish.  From your post it sounds like ribs are the menu item. Many rib rubs and sauces call for some sugar. A bit of vinegar could balance out some of the sweetness if necessary.

The vegetables you refer to will help but if you are using them for their sugar content, you might have to cook them past where you want to serve them and squeeze them for their juices. So you might have to use  some for sweetness and some for service.

Essentially your question as stated can only be answered after the braising process. Then taste the braising liquid. If it is not sweet enough, add some sugar but  I think I would reduce the liquid first until it is almost to the glaze stage. Reduction removes water and concentrates all the flavors, not just the sugar. As an example, if  you have a quart of braising liquid and sweeten it as necessary. then reduce it to a pint, it might end up overly sweet. Tasting the liquids at each stage should inform you of the best course of action for the following step. 

post #5 of 10

What are you braising them in?  If you braise contains a wine or tomato paste, to mention a couple, your liquid will glaze easily after being reduced on their own, thanks to many sugars already available.  As mentioned, a well made stock will add a nice shine to it

 

I also tend to reduce at the beginning, not at the end.  My braises almost always begun by reducing wine, then adding stock and reducing again, and adding a very light about of starch to the liquid.  Once the braising is done I need only remove the excessive fat. grease tends not to be a cooperative glaze :)  I do add sugar though, but purely because I like sweet short-ribs.

 

and if you are using wine, remember cheap wines have more sugars...

post #6 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by pcieluck View Post

What are you braising them in?  If you braise contains a wine or tomato paste, to mention a couple, your liquid will glaze easily after being reduced on their own, thanks to many sugars already available.  As mentioned, a well made stock will add a nice shine to it

 

I also tend to reduce at the beginning, not at the end.  My braises almost always begun by reducing wine, then adding stock and reducing again, and adding a very light about of starch to the liquid.  Once the braising is done I need only remove the excessive fat. grease tends not to be a cooperative glaze :)  I do add sugar though, but purely because I like sweet short-ribs.

 

and if you are using wine, remember cheap wines have more sugars...

 

Interesting, you reduce braising liquid at the beginning?  Why?

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post #7 of 10

Because I want the braising liquid to be as flavorful as possible, so i concentrate it.  Plus reducing it with vegetables in it allows me to do a lot of the skimming while it's easy; on your stovetop before transferred to the oven, and without large masses of whatever you're braising in it.

post #8 of 10
Quote:
Originally Posted by pcieluck View Post

Because I want the braising liquid to be as flavorful as possible, so i concentrate it. ...

That's precisely why I wait until after braising, that way I feel I capture all the flavors, not just the ones I started with.

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Chef,
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post #9 of 10

I hear ya, but the stock i use was made with A LOT of meat in the first place. Lots of trimmings compliment of the restaurant I work for not using them for anything.

post #10 of 10
Thread Starter 

Thank all of you for the tips and suggestions.  I ended up braising the beef short ribs in a braising liquid made up of beef stock, red wine, and beet juice along with onions, carrots, celery, and fresh beets.  Towards the end, I removed the ribs, strained out the veggies, reduced the liquid by about half, and used that to glaze the ribs before putting it under the broiler.  It came out just the way I wanted it to - glossy, rich, and delicious.  Next time I might experiment with finishing the ribs over medium-high heat while constantly spooning that glaze over them instead of broiling, but that is just to see how it affects the finished product.

 

As usual, the many contributors to this forum came through in a great way!  Thanks!

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