The slow cooker is our friend in the test kitchen, and we’ve discovered some helpful tips to create the perfect dish every time:
1. Pick the Right Cut of Meat: Use cuts of meat that are best for slow braising, like pork shoulder, and try to avoid leaner cuts, like pork tenderloin, that don’t hold up as well.
2. Spend Some Time Up Front: All you need is 30 minutes or less to brown your meat. Make a quick pan sauce or reduce wine before adding to your slow cooker — it makes a big difference in flavor.
3. Choose Your Alliums Wisely: Onion, garlic and shallot all belong to the same genus and when they’re added raw to a slow cooker, sometimes they create a metallically after-taste. We prefer to use leeks (also in same genus), which are milder. We also love to toast thinly sliced garlic in butter or oil and stir in at the end (like in Food Network Magazine’s Vegetable and Lentil Slow Cooker Soup, pictured above).
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Broccoli isn’t just an easy summer side: This versatile ingredient is the perfect addition to a hearty winter meal. The holiday season calls for hours in the kitchen cooking up elaborate dishes for family and friends. Understandably, sometimes you just need a break.
Instead of reaching for the nearest takeout menu, try Food Network Magazine‘s Chinese Beef With Broccoli. Stir-frying in sections allows each ingredient to really shine without muddling the flavors. Flank steak will boost your energy, while broccoli brings both color and fresh flavor. In 30 minutes you’ll have a tasty meal and guaranteed smiles all around.
Talk to us: What’s your favorite way to eat broccoli? Tell us in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter at #cookingwith.
More broccoli recipes from family and friends:
Napa Farmhouse 1885: Broccoli Salad Recipe
What’s Gaby Cooking: Spicy Broccolini Pizza
Cooking With Elise: Roasted Vegetable Lasagna
FN Dish: Chinese Beef With Broccoli
The skillet potato cake is a lot like a potato gratin and, in my opinion, easier than making a lot of individual latkes. It has tremendous flavor and goes really well with other lighter dishes that adorn your holiday table. Let’s face it: Who doesn’t love a scoop of some kind of potatoes this time of year? I love to give people what they want. Last week, while I was cooking at my restaurant, we were making various sauces for pasta and all I could think of was a simple tomato sauce. This potato cake serves the same purpose.
Get Alex’s Skillet Potato Cake recipe »
There is little doubt among the judges that Chef Zakarian (or Iron Chef Zakarian, as he should now rightfully be called) will make a mighty fine addition to the roster in Kitchen Stadium. Throughout the competition, he offered not only consistently the best technique on the show, but also some of the tastiest food placed before us and, of course, Alton Brown.
He was not alone, however. If my calculations are correct, I believe that I worked my way through nearly 100 dishes during the series and, while we were there to judge and offer criticism of their dishes, the truth is that the majority of what the chefs offered up would have received a definite thumbs up in any restaurant.
There were a few clunkers, of course, but I will get to that later. For the moment, let me just share with you the dishes I consider the very best of this season of The Next Iron Chef.
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On Rachael vs. Guy Celebrity Cook-Off, eight celebrities will be competing for a chance to win $50,000 for their favorite charity. Meet the celebrities and find out which organization each is playing for. And don’t forget to tune in for the season premiere on Sunday, January 1 at 9pm/8c.
Find out who’s competing
The fourth season of The Next Iron Chef: Super Chefs has come to a close and Geoffrey Zakarian has been crowned the prize so many would-be chefs covet: joining the ranks of Iron Chefs Marc Forgione, Bobby Flay, Masaharu Morimoto, Cat Cora, Jose Garces and Michael Symon.
While Geoffrey has won the final battle, we can’t forget his worthy and very talented opponent, Elizabeth Falkner, who fought to the very end. Each week, she’s proven herself more than a pastry chef; in fact, she can do it all. However, we still had to say goodbye to her.
FN Dish: You mentioned in this last challenge that you’ve really stayed away from the pastry side and haven’t called upon it until the finale. Why?
EF: I wanted to show people that I cook everything and actually have been doing so from the beginning of my career. I focused on pastry for the first chunk of years because I love the artistic side to it and the discipline. It helped me become a better savory chef. I love all kinds of food, cooking and learning about it all.
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No menorah lighting is complete without a few snacks to mark the occasion. This year, switch up tradition and try our top five Hanukkah recipes below. Each is quick and easy to make and boasts classic holiday tastes.
5. Apple Cider Doughnuts — A pureed red apple-apple cider mixture gives these doughnuts their sweet, seasonal flavor, while a cider glaze and cinnamon-sugar topping adds extra decadence and decoration.
4. Challah Crowns — This dense but light egg bread is scented with warm honey, sprinkled with poppy seeds and baked until the crust achieves a glossy, golden hue.
Get the top three recipes »
I have to say, if you’re not going to win a competition show, being recruited to help cook by the last two standing is a pretty decent consolation prize. As was true for the entire duration of this series, I learned a lot on that day. Elizabeth and Geoffrey have very different styles of cooking and very different work methods. The hardest part? Going out to sit in the audience with my fellow competitors and knowing that I was soon going to have to join each team for 15 minutes. Wow. That’s like joining Gene Kelly in the middle of one of his tap-dancing routines without rehearsal. That Chairman doesn’t know when to quit, does he?
I started out on Team Geoffrey. After years of working together on Chopped, I know that we share a great love of French food and impulsive cooking. Geoffrey seemed as if he hadn’t completely decided what he was making and in his shoes, I would have been in the same position. “Take the cranberries the Chairman just gave us, the rice and sake and make me risotto as one of the dishes,” he shouted above the din of the kitchen noise. Make an entire dish? For him to serve to the Iron Chefs? I cooked some onions and butter in some sake and added the arborio rice. I stirred the rice, added some more sake, a sprinkle of sugar and a pat of butter and let the mixture simmer. Separately, I cooked the cranberries until tender with some spices (not too heavy) and set them aside for Team Geoffrey to reheat to their liking. The key to cooking food in a context like this is to get everything close to how you want it and perfect it at the last minute. The pressure was unreal. What if that ended up being the one dish the Iron Chefs didn’t like?
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Ellie Krieger uses low-fat milk to lighten up this decadent dish, but she adds garlic and creamy Parmesan cheese to maintain its full flavors and traditional textures. Slices of sautéed zucchini offer layers of bright color and healthy freshness to this easy 30-minute recipe.
For a light but satisfying side dish, serve Michael Chiarello’s Frisee Salad With Spiced Walnuts, Pears, Farmhouse Cheddar and Port Vinaigrette. Sugar-coated walnuts are tossed in a cayenne-cinnamon mixture and add a sweet and spicy crunch to the bed of greens, fresh fruit and rich cheddar shavings.
Get the recipe: Fettuccini Alfredo With Zucchini Ribbons from Food Network Magazine
Meatless Monday, an international movement, encourages people everywhere to cut meat one day a week for personal and planetary health. Browse more Meatless Monday recipes.
There’s officially a new Iron Chef in Kitchen Stadium! Geoffrey Zakarian prevailed in the final showdown, a full-out Kitchen Stadium battle that celebrated the holiday feasts we’re all looking forward to right now. Now he’s joining the prestigious ranks of Marc Forgione, Bobby Flay, Masaharu Morimoto, Cat Cora, Jose Garces and Michael Symon.
Iron Chef Zakarian is chef-partner at The Lambs Club and The National Bar and Dining Rooms in New York City and Tudor House in Miami. He’s also a veteran judge on Chopped. After surviving all 10 of the Chairman’s intense challenges, plus a couple of Secret Ingredient Showdowns, we have no doubt that he’ll have much success in Kitchen Stadium.
We sat down to chat with Zakarian about the intense Next Iron Chef experience. “It’s like the game of golf,” says the newly crowned Iron Chef, an avid golfer. “If you have a bad hole, you just go to the next hole and you have to get the last hole out of your head. Anybody can beat anybody any day of the week.”
Read on for our exclusive interview. Read more »