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Red-Cooked Pork Shoulder and Chestnuts

Red-cooking is a traditional Chinese braising technique, so named because high-quality soy sauce is said to develop a red tint after long-cooking. Here, that technique helps pork shoulder morph into a consummate bowl of comfort food.

1 large or 2 medium leeks, slit lengthwise, rinsed, then thinly sliced crosswise, white and pale-green parts only (about 1 cup)
1 cup low-sodium soy sauce
6 Tbs. Shaoxing or dry sherry
1/4 cup peeled, julienned fresh ginger (cut into 1/8 x 1/8-inch matchsticks; from a 3-inch piece)
2 Tbs. granulated sugar
1 Tbs. slivered garlic (3 medium cloves)
2 cinnamon sticks
1 star anise pod
4 lb. boneless pork shoulder (also called butt), trimmed and cut into 4 large pieces
2 cups jarred roasted peeled chestnuts
2 Tbs. plain rice vinegar, more to taste
Cooked medium-grain white rice or udon noodles, for serving
Thinly sliced scallions, for garnish

Stir the leeks, soy sauce, Shaoxing or sherry, ginger, sugar, garlic, cinnamon sticks, and star anise pod in a 6-quart slow cooker. Nestle the chunks of pork shoulder into the mixture. Sprinkle the chestnuts on top.

Cover and cook on low until the pork is fork-tender 5 to 7 hours. Discard the cinnamon sticks and star anise pod and stir in the rice vinegar.

Break the pork into smaller chunks and serve on the rice or noodles with the chestnuts, a little of the sauce, and a sprinkle of scallions.

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How to make Slow-Cooker Osso Buco

There are two tricks to this recipe: browning the veal shanks before they go into the slow cooker and reducing the sauce before serving. The result is an osso buco you’d be hard-pressed to distinguish from the labor-intensive classic (trust us).

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
Four 1-1/2- to 2-inch-thick veal shanks (about 2-1/2 lb.)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
1 cup dry white wine
One 14-1/2-oz. can diced tomatoes
3/4 cup lower-salt chicken broth
1 small red onion, chopped (1-1/2 cups)
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into
1/4-inch-thick rounds (1/2 cup)
1 stalk celery, chopped (1/2 cup)
5 sprigs fresh thyme
3 Tbs. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 Tbs. finely grated lemon zest
1 large clove garlic, minced (1 tsp.)

Put the flour in a wide, shallow dish. Season the veal shanks all over with salt and pepper and dredge in the flour; shake off the excess flour.

Heat a 12-inch skillet over medium heat. Add the butter, and when it foams, add the shanks to the skillet. Cook until golden, turning once, about 10 minutes. Transfer the shanks to a slow cooker.

Add the wine to the skillet. Scrape up any browned bits from the bottom of the skillet and pour the contents of the skillet into the slow cooker. Add the tomatoes and their juices, chicken broth, onion, carrot, celery, and thyme. Cover and cook on low heat for 6 to 8 hours—the meat will be very tender and almost falling off the bone.

Transfer the shanks to a platter and cover with foil to keep warm. Pour the sauce from the slow cooker into a large skillet. Simmer over medium heat until reduced to about 2 cups, 10 to 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the parsley, lemon zest, and garlic to make a gremolata. Serve the veal shanks topped with the sauce and the gremolata.

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Quick Chicken Parmesan

  • Quick Chicken Parmesan recipe
  • Crisp chicken cutlets are topped with two cheeses and a super-fast tomato sauce in this easy take on an Italian restaurant favorite.
  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 2-1/4 oz. (1/2 cup) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1-1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
  • 4 thin-sliced boneless, skinless chicken breast cutlets (about 14 oz.)
  • Kosher salt
  • 5 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (use the small holes on a box grater)
  • 4 oz. fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 medium cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • One 14.5-oz. can crushed tomatoes (preferably Muir Glen fire-roasted crushed tomatoes)
  • 1/4 cup packed fresh basil, chopped (1/2 oz.)
Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 425°F. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with foil and lightly coat the foil with nonstick cooking spray.

Mix the flour and 1/4 tsp. pepper in a wide, shallow dish. In a second wide, shallow dish, lightly beat the eggs with 1 Tbs. water. Put the panko in a third wide, shallow dish. Season the chicken with salt and coat each piece in the flour, tapping off the excess, then the egg, and then the panko, pressing the panko to help it adhere.

Heat 2 Tbs. of the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Working in two batches, cook the chicken, flipping once, until the crumbs are golden and the chicken is almost cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes per side, adding 2 Tbs. more oil for the second batch. Transfer the chicken to the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle the chicken with the Parmigiano and then top evenly with the mozzarella. Bake until the cheese is melted and the chicken is cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes.

Meanwhile, wipe the skillet clean and set over medium heat. Pour in the remaining 1 Tbs. oil and then add the onion and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until the onion is tender and lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and 1/4 tsp. salt. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the basil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve the sauce over the chicken.

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How to make Fried Egg Pitas with Arugula

The secret to this spin on a fried egg sandwich is the tapenade, a tangy, salty olive and caper spread. Look for it near the jarred olives in the supermarket, or make your own.

2 white or whole wheat pitas, halved crosswise
2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil; more for drizzling
4 large eggs
1/4 cup tapenade, store-bought or homemade
1 lightly packed cup baby arugula (about 3/4 oz.)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Position an oven rack 6 inches from the broiler element and heat the broiler on high. Broil the pitas on the rack until golden on one side, about 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, break the eggs into the skillet and cook to your preferred doneness, 3 to 4 minutes for sunny side up, or flip and cook about 1 minute longer for over easy.

While the eggs are cooking, open the pitas and spread the tapenade evenly inside each. Divide the arugula among the pitas.

When the eggs are done, sprinkle them with a pinch of salt and pepper. Use a spatula to transfer each egg to a pita. Drizzle a little olive oil into each pita and serve immediately.

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Slow-Cooker Bolognese Sauce with Pancetta, Porcini, and Rosemary

This rich, complex sauce smells and tastes like fall—with its earthy mushrooms, smoky pancetta, and sweet woodsy rosemary. Serve it over pasta, ideally pappardelle, and freeze any extra (you'll have a lot of sauce). This recipe uses a smaller quantity of milk than is traditional, since milk can curdle in the slow cooker. Be sure to use high-quality pancetta and feel free to vary the kind of mushroom.

1⁄4 cup dried porcini or other wild mushrooms
3 slices white bread
1 cup whole milk
Scant 3 lb. ground beef chuck or meatloaf mix, at room temperature
2 tsp. kosher salt
15 grinds black pepper
2 Tbs. unsalted butter
1⁄2 lb. pancetta, coarsely chopped
1 cup finely chopped porcini mushrooms (about 5 large)
2 cups finely chopped carrots (about 4 medium)
1 cup finely chopped celery (about 4 stalks)
1 cup finely chopped red onions (about 1 small)
1 Tbs. finely chopped garlic
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
1⁄2 cup tomato paste (about 5 oz.)
1⁄4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup dry red wine, such as Cabernet Sauvignon
3⁄4 cup canned diced tomatoes, with juice
1⁄2 cup low-sodium chicken stock
2 Tbs. minced fresh rosemary leaves
1 lb. pappardelle pasta, cooked according to the package directions

TIP:To adapt a slow-cooker recipe to a conventional oven, follow these guidelines: add more liquid, to accommodate for greater evaporation; bring the dish to a boil over high heat in a Dutch oven, then cover the pot and put in a 350°F oven. Plan on the dish taking roughly half the time to cook in the oven as it would in the slow cooker.

Add the dried mushrooms to a small bowl and cover with very hot water; let sit for 15 minutes, then drain and finely chop. In a large bowl, mash the bread and milk together until a smooth paste forms. Gently knead in the beef, salt, and pepper, and mix well.

Add the butter to a medium-size, heavy saucepan and heat over medium-high heat. When melted, add the pancetta and sauté until browned, about 8 minutes. Pour off all but about 2 Tbs. of the fat. Add the meat mixture, and cook until browned, about 10 minutes. Add the fresh porcini and cook until softened, about 2 minutes. Stir in the dried mushrooms, carrots, celery, onions, garlic, and nutmeg. Sauté until the vegetables are slightly softened and aromatic, about 3 minutes. Add the tomato paste and flour, and cook until the flour is no longer visible, no more than 1 minute. With the pan off the heat, carefully add the wine. Then return the pan to high heat and stir well, scraping the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release any food bits. Cook for 2 minutes, then stir in the tomatoes and stock, and cook for another minute. Pour into the slow cooker.

Cover the slow cooker and cook on low until the meat has cooked through and the sauce is aromatic and very flavorful, about 6 hours. Spoon the fat off the surface, stir in the rosemary, break up the meat more with a fork, and serve with pasta.

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How to make Rhubarb Brown Sugar Crumble

A mix of mushrooms contributes deep, earthy flavor to this vegetarian main dish. Instant polenta, with a flavor boost from mascarpone and Parmigiano-Reggiano, helps keep the cooking time short.

1/2 oz. dried porcini (about 1/2 cup)
3 Tbs. unsalted butter
2 Tbs. olive oil
3 medium shallots, thinly sliced (about 1 cup)
Kosher salt
2 lb. mixed fresh mushrooms (shiitake, oyster, cremini, hen of the woods), trimmed and coarsely chopped (10 to 12 cups)
1/2 cup dry vermouth
2 Tbs. heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped mixed fresh herbs, such as tarragon, parsley, thyme, chives, and sage
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup instant polenta
1/4 cup mascarpone
1/2 oz. finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (1/2 cup using a rasp grater)

In a small bowl, soak the porcini in 1-1/2 cups warm water until softened, about 10 minutes. Lift the mushrooms out and reserve 1 cup of the liquid. Coarsely chop the mushrooms.

Meanwhile, in an 8-quart Dutch oven or other heavy-duty pot, heat 1 Tbs. of the butter with the olive oil over medium heat. Add the shallots and a pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 4 minutes. Add the fresh mushrooms and 1 tsp. salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms start to soften, about 6 minutes. Add the porcini and cook until the mushrooms are very tender and release their liquid, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the vermouth and cook until all the liquid is evaporated, about 2 minutes. Add the reserved cup of porcini liquid, leaving any sediment behind in the measuring cup, and cook until reduced to about 3/4 cup, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in the heavy cream and 3 Tbs. of the herbs. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep warm.

Bring 3-1/2 cups of water to a boil in a 4-quart heavy-duty saucepan over medium-high heat. Add 1-1/2 tsp. salt and then gradually whisk in the polenta. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and cook until the polenta absorbs the water and thickens, about 3 minutes. Stir in the remaining 2 Tbs. butter and the mascarpone. Add the Parmigiano and stir until combined. Serve the polenta topped with the mushroom ragoût and sprinkled with the remaining 1 Tbs. herbs.

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How to cook Oatmeal Date Cookies

A generous amount of oatmeal streusel tops this crumble, providing a crunchy contrast to the tart, juicy filling. Vanilla ice cream is a natural with this homey favorite.

1 Tbs. unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
For the topping:
4-1/2 oz. (1 cup) all-purpose flour
1 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. kosher salt
4 oz. (8 Tbs.) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
For the filling:
7 cups 1/3-inch-thick sliced rhubarb (about 2 lb.)
1 cup lightly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest (from 1 medium lemon, using a rasp-style grater)
1/4 tsp. kosher salt

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F. Grease an 8x8-inch Pyrex baking dish with the softened butter.

Make the topping: In a food processor, combine the flour, brown sugar, oats, cinnamon, and salt and pulse several times to combine. Add the cold butter and pulse until the mixture has the texture of coarse meal and clumps together when squeezed lightly, about 1 minute.

Make the filling: Combine the rhubarb, brown sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, lemon zest, and salt in a large bowl and stir with a spatula until evenly mixed. Transfer the rhubarb mixture to the baking pan, and sprinkle the topping evenly over the fruit; the pan will be very full, but the crumble will settle as it bakes.

Bake until the topping is lightly browned, the rhubarb is tender (probe in the center with a skewer to check), and the juices are bubbling thickly around the edges, 45 to 60 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool to warm or room temperature and to allow the juices to thicken, at least 1 hour.

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How to Make Twice-Baked Potatoes

The combination of creamy Cheddar and bright chives is a classic way to flavor twice-baked potatoes, but feel free to try other melting cheeses. These potatoes are big enough to be a main dish; make halves (see variation below) if you’d like to serve them as a side. 

4 large russet potatoes (10 to 12 oz. each), scrubbed, pierced 5 or 6 times with a fork
2 oz. (4 Tbs.) unsalted butter, softened
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 oz. coarsely grated sharp or extra-sharp Cheddar (1-1/2 cups)
1/4 cup sour cream
1 Tbs. canola oil
1 Tbs. thinly sliced fresh chives 

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. Place the potatoes directly on the oven rack and bake until tender when pierced with a fork, about 1 hour 10 minutes. Transfer the potatoes to a cutting board and let sit until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes.

Cut a 1/2-inch-thick slice lengthwise off the top of each potato; scrape the flesh from the slices into a large bowl and discard the skins. Spoon the flesh from the potatoes into the bowl, leaving a 1/4-inch shell. Add the butter, 3/4 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper and mix with a potato masher until blended; do not overwork (lumps are OK). Gently fold in the sour cream and half of the cheese with a silicone spatula. Season to taste with more salt and pepper.

Using your fingers, rub the outsides of the potato shells with the oil. Distribute the filling among the shells, mounding it, and place on a rimmed baking sheet.

Bake the potatoes, uncovered, until heated through, 25 to 30 minutes. (To check, insert the blade of a small knife into the center of a potato for 5 seconds; it should be hot.) Sprinkle the potatoes with the remaining cheese and bake until the cheese melts and browns lightly in some places, 2 to 3 minutes more. Garnish the potatoes with the chives, let sit 5 to 10 minutes, and serve.
Make Ahead Tips

The potatoes can be baked and filled up to 1 day ahead. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Bring them to room temperature and heat the oven to 400°F before doing the final bake.

Twice-Baked Potato Halves: After the first bake, halve the potatoes lengthwise. Scoop the flesh out of both halves, leaving a 1/4-inch shell. Make the filling, then fill both halves of each potato, bake, and finish as directed.

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How to cook healthy

Medical school is already a whirlwind of classes, intensive training, and first-hand experience with patients and other health care providers. Yet, as our understanding of medicine grows, it's getting more and more complex. The latest innovation, coming out of Tulane University, is the addition of cooking classes to the medical school curriculum. Wondering what med students are doing in the kitchen when they should be surrounded by the tiled walls of the OR?

Growing evidence strongly indicates that dietary choices can have a profound effect on human health. While the specifics of nutrition (look at the recent revelations about saturated fats, for example) are still a topic of lively research and debate, we do know that people eating fresh, whole foods tend to be healthier, physically and mentally. Many people aren't getting the fruits and vegetables they need, and they're relying heavily on diets that feature frequent use of prepared and fast foods.

That's partially a function of not knowing how to eat, and primary care providers are the first line of defense there. Unfortunately, many primary care providers are equally clueless, and historically, medical schools have provided very limited nutritional training to people who aren't going into nutrition-related healthcare fields. While doctors might tell patients to "eat right," they don't always have tips and tricks for doing so, or suggestions to help their patients eat better.

With the culinary program, Tulane is teaching medical students to cook, and it's also providing valuable information about nutrition. Students can use that information in their own lives -- med students are notorious for eating poor diets thanks to the long hours they work and the limited time they have for food preparation -- but they can also help their future patients, relying on firsthand experience to offer advice about nutrition, recipes, and food preparation.

It's a small, quiet revolution in a world where people are growing more and more aware that food isn't just fuel, but a vital component of our health. As people start up edible San Francisco landscaping and hit up farmers' markets on the weekends, food is occupying a much larger role in our lives, and physicians are smart to want to join in. Especially for patients who haven't been exposed to culinary diversity and opportunities to source and cook their own food, this medical training will be vital, because it will help doctors provide concrete solutions to their patients without having to refer them to a nutritionist.

Many human cultures have been using food as a healing tool for thousands of years. Bringing the practice back again can help people take control of their health and save big time on medical care, with a focus on preventative medicine to keep patients healthier so they don't need costly interventions.

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