Roasting and braising are both methods of cooking.
Roasting involves placing meat or vegetables in a roasting tin, placing it on a rack, skewer or spit/rotisserie and exposing it to an open flame or heat source such as an oven. The circulation of hot dry air around uncovered food in the oven ensures that food is fairly evenly cooked.
Braising uses dry heat followed by a moist heat. Meat or vegetables are first seared at a high temperature and then the cooking is finished in a covered pot which has liquid, either a stock or water. This is also called pot roasting.
Effects of method
Roasting browns the surface of the food, thereby enhancing the flavor. Food is often basted during the roasting process, usually with oil or lard to add flavor and reduce moisture loss through evaporation. Lower temperature is applied for larger pieces of meat to ensure they cook well without drying or burning on the outside before cooking on the inside. Smaller pieces of food are roasted at a higher temperature. Some meats like beef are initially cooked at a high temperature to brown the outside and seal the moisture in, followed by a low temperature to cook the meat through.
Braising dissolves the tough collagen fibers into gelatin to enrich and add body to the braising liquid, thus softening the meat. The tougher, older cuts of meat are ideal for braising. Braising is an economical method of cooking as it uses one pot. Pressure cooking is also a type of braising.
Any meat cooked by roasting is called a 'roast'. A traditional English lunch or dinner, usually on a Sunday or special occasion such as Christmas involves a whole roasted chicken with roasted vegetables and gravy made from the drippings of fat collected in the roasting tray. Beef, pork belly, shoulder or pork loin can also be roasted. Rotisserie chicken, where a whole chicken is impaled on a spit or skewer and rotated over an open heat source is the main ingredient of the popular Middle Eastern wrap, Shwarma. In America, turkey is traditionally roasted for the Thanksgiving meal.
Popular braised dishes include pot roast, beef stew, goulash, coq au vin, beef bourguignon. Braising is one of the methods used for Moroccan Tajines.