Time for another food blog!
One of the hardest things to learn when starting to cook is how to time your dinner so everything is ready at the same time. The only thing you can do is practice, practice, practice. In time, you'll know roughly how long it takes to steam brussel sprouts (about 10-15 minutes) or sear a 1" steak (about 7 minutes per side). This also varies by your stovetop and pans, so your cooking time may be different than mine.
Practice, practice, practice.
I also recommend watching copious episodes of Iron Chef or Chopped.
Tonight I made lamb chops and rice for dinner. Using my practice, practice, practice for multi tasking dinner, I got everything together at roughly the same time in about 25 minutes.
While not practical for every meal, when you have a very fast cooking meal, I recommend having all your ingredients pre rinsed, chopped, and ready to go in bowls. Professional chefs call this "mise en place". It is French meaning, "everything in place". My lamb chops will take a mere 10 minutes to cook, so it's important that I have all my ingredients ready. I will not have time to chop and drop, or things will burn or get overcooked.
- Lamb chops seasoned with herbes de provence, salt, pepper, and a dash of olive oil.
- A bottle of my favorite wine for drinking, Chateau Ste Michelle Indian Wells Merlot. I'll use a tiny bit for a red wine sauce at the end.
- Fresh brussel sprouts, cleaned and cut.
- Seasoned pilaf rice package, where I will add chopped onions and bell peppers, frozen peas, and chicken stock. Normally I make my own seasoned rice, but tonight I am tired and need something quick, so a packaged rice will do.
- Sliced bell peppers and tomatoes for a salad. A red wine vinegrette salad dressing. Not show is the lettuce, which is already washed and in a salad spinner.
Remarkably, I am only going to be using two pans for this. My saute pan, and a steamer pot. The rice will cook in the lower half, and the brussel sprouts will steam above in the steamer section. Nice, eh?
Brussel sprouts are placed in the steamer.
I turn my stove on. Medium high for the lamb chops, and medium for the steamer pan. While my pans are heating, I make my salads.
When steamer pan is hot, I add bell peppers and onions and saute. When they have softened slightly, I add the chicken stock, rice, and seasoning. Peas do not go in yet.
Brussel sprouts are added to the top of the rice to be steamed - about 15 minutes on the clock.
By now, my saute pan is ready for the lamb chops.
While lamb chops are sizzling, rice is simmering, and brussels are steaming, I start loading up the dishwasher and wiping down counters.
5 minutes left on the clock, I add the frozen peas.
I take the lamb chops out of the pan and on a warm dish to rest. To the pan that has a lovely brown frond from the searing lamb chops, I add about 1/4 cup red wine, and couple tablespoons of chicken stock. When that starts to simmer, I add 1 teaspoon cornstarch dissolved in cold chicken stock to thicken the sauce slightly. I whisk it until the sauce thickens.
Everything is ready! Time to plate!
Scoop of rice pilaf, steamed brussel sprouts, and seared lamb chops with a red wine sauce.
Served with salad and a glass of wine.
Over half of this meal is veggies. The lamb portion is small faction of this meal, but very, very flavorful. Believe me, we have very full, happy bellies.
Total Calories: 623
Carbohydrates: 65g (48.3%)
Fat: 19g (31.1%)
Protein: 28g (20.6%)
I could have had a Whopper Jr and small fries for dinner for 600 calories, or I could have my salad, lamb chops with red wine sauce, rice pilaf, brussel sprouts, and a glass of wine.
How much would you pay for this in a restaurant? $25-30? Would you believe this meal cost me less than $10?
2 lamb chops, 3oz total: $2.60
Glass of Wine: $3 ($12 for the bottle, about 4 glasses total)
Brussel Sprouts: $1.50
Total: ~ $8.50