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Visit a first-rate restaurant in Manhattan and you'll have an unforgettable meal that will set you back at least $60 a person. For the same amount of money, you can throw an extraordinary dinner party for six in your home with one of the menus here from star New York City chefs Daniel Boulud, Anne Rosenzweig and Charlie Palmer. This trio pinched a few pennies to meet the $60 limit we imposed, most often in their main courses, but they still found money in the budget for some carefully chosen extravagances. Our chefs also found ways to include their kids in the pre-party excitement. The result of their labors: three luxurious yet affordable winter dinners.

"The $60 budget meant that I could still use a luxury item like shrimp in the first-course chowder," says Anne Rosenzweig of Arcadia. For her main course, she saves money by choosing lamb shanks, an economical alternative to the rack of lamb she serves at her restaurant. She marinates the shanks in pure pomegranate juice (a quart sells for about $3 at health food stores), which imbues the meat with a rich sweet-tart flavor. Her frozen pineapple-coconut parfaits with coconut tuiles end the meal on a refreshing tropical note. 

For his meal, Charlie Palmer of Aureole splurges on one ingredient: the prosciutto wrapped around the cod in the main course. "You're using such a small amount of it, plus it keeps the inside of the cod so moist and white," he explains. Cod itself is an inexpensive fish that Palmer feels is underappreciated: "It's nice and flaky, and it's a great medium for the flavors of sage and prosciutto." The other elements of his menu--the hearty pumpkin risotto starter and the homey pear scrunch dessert--are Palmer's ideal winter fare at any price, the kind of food that's perfect "when you're sitting in front of the fireplace and it's icy cold outside." 

"In the summertime, it is easier to feed six for $60," laments Daniel Boulud of Restaurant Daniel. "People don't eat as much or need as many calories." Boulud rises to the challenge of creating robust winter food with a main course of pork shoulder, a relatively inexpensive but delicious cut of meat. The pork is braised until it's tender and then cooked with green lentils and endives, which add an opulent touch. (To make the most of every dollar, save the bones from the pork shoulder for soup.) The smoked trout in Boulud's first-course salad and the dried cranberries in his bread-pudding dessert are pricey ingredients, but they deliver so much flavor that only small

Published January 1995
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