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Comfort foods are more than just good eating— they unlock happiness, calm and good feelings. They ground us in ways the theater of haute cuisine could never do. It’s what chefs crave when they go home— and why we all want to open a little bistro someday.

Comfort foods all have basic similarities: they’re usually cooked (most for long periods of time), they’re simple in flavor and ingredients and, most importantly, they’re familiar foods that remind us of childhood meals (rice, potatoes, pastas, braised meats, etc.).

For this issue, I teamed up with my friend Australian chef Michael Dean to help me give a slight twist to my favorite comfort foods. (Chef Dean is spending three weeks this fall at the Inn at Easton as a guest chef— and as a source of inspiration.)

We hope you’ll enjoy the slow-braised pot roast and lamb shanks. This recipe gives you a good reason to dust off that old crockpot, an excellent way to control low heat over extended cooking times. Risotto is a classic no matter what time of year, and the ingredients can vary to suit the season or to use what’s available in your fridge. Sausage and gnocchi just plain taste good together, especially if you make the potato dumplings fresh.

So enjoy yourself as you cook for family and friends, and serve up these familiar favorites this fall.

Pot-Roasted Beef with Celeriac Pureé and Sautéed Spinach

Lamb Shanks Braised with Cinnamon, Garlic and Thyme

Parsnip and Pea Risotto with Parmesan and Mascarpone

Potato Gnocchi with Slow-Cooked Sausage Sauce

Andrew Evans is the chef and owner of the Inn at Easton.

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