Sunday, October 5, 2008

How to Cook a Quick, Delicious and Nutritious Dinner

I continually harp (to the point of irritation?) how fast, easy and cheap it can be to cook for yourself, or for your family. That being said, I’m the last person who wants to create a gourmet meal on a random Tuesday night. But making simple food that is both delicious and nutritious is completely feasible, even for those with limited cooking skills.

The other night, as I was starting to cook dinner for myself, I thought, “Hmm, let’s time and document this to see if I actually know what I’m talking about.”

The menu was sautéed beef liver (grass-fed) with onions, boiled yellow and purple fingerling potatoes with Anchor butter and parsley, roasted broccoli, and a chunk of whole wheat bread. The meat, vegetables and bread were bought at the farmers market that day, and the total cost for everything was about $6.25.

(For the broccoli, potatoes and bread, I used about a third of what I bought, and calculated accordingly. For the minimal amounts of butter, olive oil, parsley, unrefined sea salt and fresh ground pepper, I generously added $1.00. The onion was $0.25 and the half pound of liver was $3.50.)

I know some of you are saying, “That’s gross,” in regard to the liver. But trust me; it was delicious (and so healthy). More importantly, the same dinner can be made with a hamburger, chicken breast, fish filet or telephone book. And the vegetables used can be substituted freely. Home cooking is all about basic technique, confidence and good ingredients.

Here’s a play-by-play of the process:

(I’m sure many of you are thinking that you can’t do this as quickly as I describe. But I was taking notes and photos while cooking, so this is likely a realistic timetable for people who don’t cook as often as I do.)

0:00 - Preheat oven to 375° (for broccoli).

0:05 - Wash broccoli and fingerling potatoes.

1:00 - Put potatoes in a small saucepan, c
over with water, bring to a boil.

2:00 - Let liver r
est in paper towel to absorb moisture, which will help it brown.

4:00 – Reduce temperature of water cooking potatoes to a simmer.

5:00 - Cut broccoli into bite-size florets, put on baking sheet, sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper, and mix.

7:00 – Put broccoli into oven.

7:45 – Heat oil in sauté pan (for onions).

8:45 – When oil is hot, put in onions and
brown. Stir occasionally.

10:00 – Check potatoes and broccoli for doneness.

13:45 – Onions browned (5 minutes); push to side of sauté pan.

14:00 – Potatoes cooked (13 minutes). Drain water, let cool.

14:15 – Season liver with salt and pepper, put in sauté pan. Cook on one side for 2 minutes.

14:30 – Check comments on blog; anyone reading?

15:00 – Broccoli done (8 minutes). Remove from oven and plate.

16:15 – Turn liver to second side. Brown for 1 minute.

17:15 – Liver cooked (3 minutes). Transfer to cooling rack and let rest for two minutes.

17:30 – Cut potatoes into bite-size pieces, chop parsley, cut a tablespo
on of butter. Mix in small bowl, add salt and pepper, and plate.

19:30 – Plate liver and onions. Garnish with extra parsley.

19:58 - Eat!


Anonymous said...

-Telephone call to baby buddha for General Tsao's Chicken...37 seconds
-delivery to your door....5 mins

Love emmet

Autumn Rae said...

Yes! Someone is reading Rob! Perhaps you wit is almost on the verge on intimidating, but I will risk a commment anyway... After your description of liver, you have inspired me to try it on my next order of grass-fed meats.

Thank you for the mention at the 2-minute mark to let the liver rest on paper towels. It is the little hints like this that give us newbies aspirations of culinary greatness (for better or for worse)!