Q: I’m a very busy professional with little time to cook during the week. Do you have any suggestions on good after-work recipes that I can make?
A: Dear busy professional,
Wouldn’t it be great if the day was 25 hours long? I know that we all could sure use that extra hour. Here are a few tips for healthy, quick and tasty cooking for the “pro on the go.” Since time is the concern here, we should focus on quick cooking methods such as grilling, sautéing or broiling. Common cuts of meat that are suitable for these cooking methods are flank steak (London broil), NY steak, beef tenderloin steak and rib eye steak (most fish and chicken are also suitable). Since these types of cuts are generally lower in fat content, the key here is to marinate. Beef and chicken should be marinated for a minimum of three hours to overnight (I recommend overnight), while fish should be marinated for up to three hours.
I’ll give you one beef, one chicken and one fish recipe to start with.
Purchase one flank steak (it feeds two to three people) and marinate it in one cup of pineapple juice, ½ of a red onion thinly sliced, one tablespoon of soy sauce, one tablespoon of red wine vinegar, two tablespoons of olive oil, one lime sliced thin, one tablespoon of minced garlic, and one tablespoon of minced ginger. Once the steak is coated well, cover and leave it in the refrigerator overnight. When ready to cook, simply season both sides lightly with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and broil, sauté, grill or barbeque. (Flank steak usually takes about four minutes on each side to reach rare to medium rare.) One key to serving flank steak correctly is that it needs to be sliced thin on an angle against the grain. In other words, you’ll see the natural lines on the beef running in one direction so the cuts will be made perpendicular to those lines. Also, all meats should be allowed to rest for about ten minutes before slicing so the juices don’t escape. Serve with some steamed sticky rice and steamed broccoli. (See the “Ask the Expert” food column for tips on cooking broccoli and spicing up rice dishes.)
Marinate two chicken breasts in two tablespoons of olive oil, one teaspoon of minced garlic, two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar and ½ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper overnight. Cook the chicken however you choose, seasoning them on both sides lightly with salt and freshly ground black pepper. While the chicken is cooking, put one cup of balsamic vinegar in a one-quart saucepan and bring to a boil. Immediately turn down the flame to low and let it simmer.
Let it reduce by ¾ until the sauce has a syrupy consistency and is slightly sweet to the taste. To serve, slice each chicken breast into about six pieces and serve over two salads of arugala, radicchio, Belgian endive and some diced tomatoes.
Drizzle some of the reduced balsamic vinegar and some good extra virgin olive oil over each salad and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and some freshly ground black pepper. The vinegar will be strong, so don’t use too much. The rest can be kept in the refrigerator for a month.
Purchase two six-ounce fillets of white fish with the skin on. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Season lightly on both sides with salt and freshly ground black pepper. With a sharp knife, make a couple small slits on the skin, and place the fish skin-side-up in a 10-12 inch sauté pan that is oven proof. Add enough water to the pan to go halfway up to the top of the fish. Add four or five torn basil leaves, five cherry tomatoes cut in half, two tablespoons of dry white wine, and a pinch of salt and pepper to the pan. Place the pan on the burner and bring slowly to a simmer. Cover the pan and place in the oven to cook for five to six minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and uncover. You will know that the fish is done when it has an opaque color to it. Remove the fish from the pan with a spatula and keep it on a warm plate. Meanwhile, put the pan back on the stove and turn the flame on high. Reduce the sauce by half, or the amount needed for both pieces of fish. Add one tablespoon of fresh chopped Italian parsley to the sauce and pour over the fish. Enjoy immediately.