The Cooking Technique that Helps Me Juggle Mealtime and Working from Home

It’s easy, hands-off and makes a big batch of comfort food — better than your slow cooker!

Related To:

I don’t know about you, but when I’m cooped up working from home in my New York City apartment, I spend a lot of time thinking about what I’ll eat next. Maybe it’s because snacks and meals break up the day. Or maybe it’s because my "home office" is actually just my kitchen table, which is right next to the fridge. Either way, the amount of time I spend thinking about eating is disproportionate to the minimal amount of time I actually have to prep lunch between meetings. Anyone else?

However, I’ve figured out a smart solution: braising. Let me explain. Typically, braising entails just a few minutes of hands-on time, and hours and hours of hands-off cooking time. It’s a low-lift cooking technique, but you kind of have to be home all day while it’s happening. Meaning it’s normally been a weekend activity. But now that I’m home all day long, I start my braised dish in the morning when I wake up at around seven or eight in the morning, and it’s done by lunch time.

Let’s get into some more merits of braising. First, if you’re a meat eater, it saves money: braising typically starts with tough and inexpensive cuts of meat. Second, braising is hard to mess up. Really. Third, it’s great for meal prep: it makes a lot of meat, which often tastes even more flavorful the next day when you eat it from the fridge. Or, it can be frozen in its braising liquid for later. And fourth, eating a warm, flavorful and tender braised dish is, in my opinion, an ultimate comfort food — and that’s exactly what I’m craving right now.

You might be thinking to yourself: I typically just put my meat in my slow-cooker and it’s done by dinnertime, why are you making such a big fuss over braising? Here’s why. Slow cookers heat up meat evenly and gently from the bottom. On the other hand, the pot you braise in (such as a Dutch oven) has hot spots and heats from every direction. Braised meat and vegetables caramelize and break down much more than slow-cooked ones. Although I used to prefer the convenience of my slow cooker, I far prefer the more tender, flavorful results I get from braising.

Below, I’ve rounded up my three absolute favorite braising recipes. I turn to these again and again. They’re easy, no-frills and deliver dependably delectable results every time.

Some beef stew recipes are fussy: they involve lots of standing over the stove and cooking different ingredients one at a time. Not this version. Just brown your meat and vegetables, then get braising. And when you’re done — is there anything more comforting than a warm bowl of stew?

Pulled Pork (pictured above)

I love this smart recipe for several reasons. It’s flavorful and juicy but doesn’t call for many ingredients. And it shortcuts the braising time by asking you to cut the pork shoulder into four smaller pieces that become tender in just about two hours.

When four pounds of brisket get braised in tomato juice and chicken broth alongside poblano peppers, smoky chili powder, cumin, coriander and oregano, the results are super flavorful. Turn the meat into tacos by following this entire recipe, if you wish, or simply stop cooking when the meat is done braising. You won’t be disappointed with the results.

Related Links:

Next Up

The Rules of Make-Ahead-and-Freeze Meals

With this extensive guide, there’s no need for you to — er — freeze up.

How to Make and Freeze Every Single Holiday Baked Good Ahead of Time

Take it from a recipe developer — these instructions will make your holidays much less stressful, and set you up perfectly for gifting (and mailing!) treats.

Freeze Pie Crust

Curious if you can make pie crust ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday and store it in the freezer? Food Network has the answer.

Summer Cooking (and Eating), Alex Guarnaschelli Style

Hear from Alex Guarnaschelli to learn her favorite seasonal eats, plus what she piles on top of her ultimate burger.

Curry-Style Cooking: Fresh, Family-Focused Mealtime on Ayesha's Homemade

Get all the latest details on Ayesha Curry's brand-new upcoming series, Ayesha's Homemade, premiering Saturday, Oct. 22 at 12|11c.

Italian-Style Macaroni and Cheese, Plus Pantry Staples for Roman Cooking

Discover a new, wide world of Italian flavors with Tasting Rome by Katie Parla and Kristina Gill.

Seven Tips for a Successful Stress-Free Brunch

Find 1000s of Food Network's best recipes from top chefs, shows and experts. And watch videos demonstrating recipe prep and cooking techniques.

Secret Ingredient Challenge at Home: Coffee and Doughnuts

Inspired by the Secret Ingredient Challenges on The Next Iron Chef? Try one of these recipes from Food Network stars.