Old-school fare gets an upgrade with an Asian-style lemongrass dinner from Park Avenue.
One of the most coveted gifts this past holiday season was a slow cooker. Gadget minimalists and the counter space-conscious make an exception for this piece of machinery. It’s versatile (oatmeal! hot wings!) and makes cooking healthy meals easy since dishes get their complexity from herbs and spices infused over hours. Yes, you can toss ingredients in and let it run. But a modicum of additional effort transforms Sunday football-watching grub to a special Saturday night dinner. For a restaurant-quality recipe, we went to Craig Koketsu, chef-partner of the inventive Park Avenue restaurantin New York City. The recipe uses nuoc mao, a dark caramel syrup and a staple of Vietnamese cooking, which can be found in Asian grocery stores, or made at home using sugar and water. (Substitute molasses if unavailable.) The purple potatoes also contain antioxidants, the same ones that make blueberries blue, and bok choy is a great source of vitamins A and C. No slow-cooker? A Dutch oven works, too–adjustments below.