While I love this video—and, yes, Le Creuset is giving away ten of these awesome oval pots (yes, giving them away)—the video doesn’t show how succulent and delicious and simple these bean dishes are. Kate will be pissed that I’m desecrating her beloved cassoulet with American middle-of-the-week ease. Sorry, Kate (but not really). I got great Tarbais-style beans from Steve Sando of Ranch Gordo; these and a great pot are all you need. Sure, I’d love some moulard duck leg confit, but I don’t have it here! What I have is pork! And I love pork, and it’s delicious, and this dish adds up to just a few dollars a portion (even with Whole Foods meat!). Easy cassoulet, American style: thick chunks of bacon started in water (to speed the fat-rendering), browned, then pork shoulder chunks seared in the Read On »

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We’re back with another cooking lesson and Le Creuset giveaway! This time with my favorite cooking method: braising. Why is it my favorite? Because it so definitively expresses what real cooking is: transformation. Great cooking is about transforming something that would be unpleasant to eat into something exquisite. In my view, grilling a steak is not cooking, it’s heating. That’s not to diminish grilling steaks—one of my favorite activities and foods to eat. It can be done well or poorly, but it doesn’t transform food, which is what truly inspires me in the kitchen. To transform pork shoulder into a sausage is cooking. Whether caramelizing onions to develop their sweetness or toasting seasonings in a pan to grind and create a curry, that’s cooking. And braising, transforming tough cuts of meat into meltingly tender mouthfuls of Read On »

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  The two great turkey conundrums: 1) how to have juicy breast meat and tender dark meat and 2) how to serve it all hot to a lot of people. Answer: the roast/braise method. Last year, chatting with my neighbor, the excellent chef Doug Katz (Fire Food and Drink), described how he cooks the turkey in stock up to the drumstick so that the legs braise while the breast and skin cook in dry heat. Last year I tried it and it works brilliantly. Thank you, Doug. Doug posted his version on the restaurant’s blog. I’ve simplified and added a couple steps to make it easier for perfect doneness. (Step-by-step pix below.) The basic idea is this: cook the turkey half submerged in flavorful liquid and lots of aromatic vegetables. When the breast is barely Read On »

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I’m finishing up answering copy-edit queries on the new book, my beliefs on the core techniques of cooking due out next fall from Chronicle, and also going over some last minute testing with the good folks at cookskorner.com. One of the recipes being tested is a Moroccan-style braised lamb shank using lemon confit and the blend of spices known as ras el hanout.  The testers asked, for those who weren’t able to find it in their town, should I include a recipe for it. The book is already running long and I’m not an expert on the subject, so I thought why not include a link to it rather than my own version?  Yes, but how do I know the online version I find will be any less spurious than mine? Go to an expert.  Read On »

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