Braised Duck Legs For Idiots

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The dish you see above is a dish from a four-star chef and yet it’s among the easiest you will ever prepare. It comes from Jean-George’s “Cooking at Home with a Four-Star Chef” which was co-written by Mark Bittman. As many of you know, Mr. Bittman is The Minimalist and it might seem strange, at first, that a man who prides himself on simplicity would co-author a book with a chef renowned for his complexity, innovation and flair. But this recipe proves that two opposing forces, working together, can generate electricity: it’s astonishingly good and amazingly easy. Click ahead and behold the splendor of Jean-George’s Braised Duck and Vegetables with Asian Spices.

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A Pork Shoulder To Cry On (With Blue Potatoes)

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In case you were boohoo-ing over my fish feast debacle from the other day, fear not. I have redeemed myself, ladies and gentlemen. All because of a trip to the farmer’s market with Diana.

On Saturday it was nice out so I said, “Let’s go to the farmer’s market.” We hopped on an N train and rode to Union Square and got out and milled around for a while. “You know my problem,” I said, “is I come to the farmer’s market but then I never know what to buy.”

Just as we were about to go home empty handed, I saw the Flying Pigs farm stand and I remembered Ed Levine talking about Flying Pigs farm at lunch the other day. “He says it’s owned by a husband and wife,” I recalled, “and they raise pigs as a hobby.” I also remember him saying the pork there was truly excellent.

Well we studied the bin of meats, all of which were quite expensive, and were about to give up when I found the pork shoulder you see above.

“Pork shoulder,” I said. “We could braise this.”

But did I have a recipe? I didn’t remember. So I did something very natural, something more people should do at farmer’s markets across the country. I asked the man behind the stand (who was not the owner) if he had a recipe for pork shoulder.

“Actually,” he said. “We do.”

He opened a drawer and pulled out a piece of paper with two pork shoulder recipes on it, both by Amanda Hesser. The recipe I liked best was for “Braised Pork Shoulder with Garlic and Thyme.” We purchased the pork shoulder and then, just before getting on the subway, we spotted a table of blue potatoes.

“Let’s get blue potatoes,” said Diana. “We need something to serve with the pork.”

So we bought them also and headed home.

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Win Back Your Loved Ones This Weekend With Chicken Breasts Braised With Hard Cider & Parsnips

You are about to read a record-setting post. This is the shortest amount of time that’s ever passed between a meal consumed and a post written. I just made this for dinner:

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And everyone loved it so much they said, “You HAVE to post this on your website.”

It’s from Molly Stevens’ new book, “All About Braising,” which I finally broke down and bought the other day. I vacillated between this and Daniel Boulud’s new braising book and it took days to pick the winner. I chose this because I already have a Daniel book and I wanted to give Molly Stevens a chance. Thank God I did! This dinner is one for the ages: I’m going to make it again and again.

Now some might say, “Chicken breast? Blech. What am I, on a diet?” Fair enough, but somehow it works in this dish because of all the other components: the bacon, the rosemary, the cider. They all come together and work a miracle.

Don’t forget to brown the chicken ’til it’s truly golden brown. That’s key. And try to get the best chicken you can (organic, free-range is best. At least the foodies say so.)

Now, then, I’m going to treat you all and type out the recipe after the jump. I hope you make this over the weekend–let me know how it turns out! (Craig wants your leftover parsnips. “Those parsnips were amazing,” he reiterates.)

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Babe, I’m on Fire: Braised Short Ribs with Horseradish Gremolata and Pumpkin Orzo

Damn, I’m good. Well: either I’m good or I choose very doable, readable recipes. Or I have really good cooking equipment. Or maybe not: maybe I’m just smokin’, I’m so hot. Check it out:

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I made this. This is not something I got from a restaurant, I got this from me: from my cutting, braising, stirring and slicing. Ok, there was a little help from Diana (she came over Saturday to eat this and to watch “Crash”) but by the time she got here, the short ribs were already in the oven.

At the risk of being too humble, let me say it like this: if you have a Dutch Oven or a heavy-bottomed skillet you can make this too. It’s so easy. And it’s NOT expensive. Two beef short ribs from Whole Foods cost me $8. The rest of the ingredients were all cheap vegetables with the exception of the bottle of red wine which, hopefully, you have laying around somewhere. The recipe comes from the Babbo cookbook and the results are as good as anything I’ve eaten at Babbo which is saying a lot because I consider Babbo the best restaurant I’ve ever been to ever so do not take that statement with a grain of salt. Take it with a box of Kosher Salt and dump it on your head. It’s really good for the roots.

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