Fast and Easy (5 ingredients or Less) Recipes

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Huy Bui:  Whoa..... maybe this was my mistake in not explaining exactly what i needed (i didn't mean to upset you in any way).  

To all:  In this class they are asking for dinner menus with 5 ingredients or less that busy people (mostly women) can come home from work and prepare for their family's dinner in the shortest amount of time.   I am sorry that I missed the word "dinner" in my original post, now I understand the different replies I received.  
 
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Gunnar - Thanks the above message where i said "Fabulous - just what I needed" was intended for you.  I am still trying to get the hang of this posting.
 
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Five-ingredient I get, stupid though I think it is (and yes, I know it's not your fault). "Fast and easy" I do not get. What's "fast"? Are we talking about "I get home at 6, I can have this on the table by 6:30 with no pre-prep" or are we talking about "so long as I don't have to spend more than 30 minutes total in the kitchen, I don't really care if I have to start the night before," or somewhere in between?
Here's why I'm asking. Suppose you've got good technique and don't mind working ahead a bit. Take one chicken, spatchcock it for broiling, and set aside in the fridge. Strip the fat from the back and render it in strips for cracklings, and save some of the rendered fat. Cook the two fat pads, minced, until well rendered, then add the liver in lobes, and cook until just barely done, then puree the mixture, pack in a little crock, and refrigerate overnight. On the next day, broil the chicken. While it's cooking, make a simple vinaigrette with mustard, red wine vinegar, and the warm rendered fat (and S&P), then toss with frisee and top the salad with crumbled cracklings. When the chicken is just done, spread the surface lightly with mustard, sprinkle with a mix of fresh bread crumbs from a crusty loaf, salt, pepper, and a little more rendered fat, then broil until deep brown. Serve with the rest of the loaf.

Ingredients: 1 chicken, mustard, red wine vinegar, frisee, crusty bread (and S&P)

Now that's an elegant meal, it's not difficult or time-consuming to make, and it's five ingredients. Terrific. But somehow I suspect that this is not quite what this class is intended to be about, right? If I'm wrong, this sort of thing is fabulous. But if I'm right, then it turns out there are some constraints that are implicit, and it's those that need to be identified. Does that make sense to you?
When people want fast they mean fast.  They mean they get home from work and want to eat in a short time.  I doubt they (because "they" is also me) want to have already thought about having made cracklings from chicken fat the night before. How long does that take, anyway?  The night before, they were cooking something else, after a long day at work! 

On a weekend, i do all kinds of stuff, or if i finish work early - 5 or 6 - then there's all the time in the world to cook, if i'm so inclined.  (Often I'm not!)  When i'm not working, i can spend the better part of a day cooking a nice meal, because i really like to eat well. 
One thing if you cook just for your leisure activity, another thing is if you cook for necessity, every day, every day, every day,. Then you really do want simple and quick.

I think to your question "what's fast" what that means is, how do i get food on the table, a nice meal my family and i can enjoy, with the least effort and time.  Of COURSE it's not just actual working time.  I can't imagine on a work night, prepping something the night before, and much less spending the time to roast a chicken after getting home from work, even if i can sit and read emails or do something else while it cooks.  I get home at 7:30 or 8:30 - i want to eat before 8:30 or 9  and would appreciate being able to spend a bit of time first, just hanging out and unwinding and checking my mail and all. So  I want something i can get on the table FAST. 

What's fast? 

How hungry are you at 8:30??

What i find stupid about the whole issue is where does the number of ingredients affect the speed or ease of preparation?  If i peel and chop ten onions, that counts as one ingredient but it takes a long time.  If i chop an onion, a celery and a carrot, it;s much less work but is three ingredients.  If i add an herb, i add no time or energy. but one more ingredient.  Add a can of tomatoes, a cup of milk, a piece of butter, a can of tuna - those add the total of 5 seconds each!  The pairing of time and number of ingredients is absurd.

So what do i cook when i get home and it';s late and I'm hungry?  Do i make polenta impasticciata (cornmeal, butter, cheese- 3 ingredients)?  Of course not, that would be close to an hour to cook the polenta, then baking it another 20 minutes at least.  Do I make zuppa di scarola (escarole, onion, rice - 3 ingredients)?  NO!  It has to cook close to two hours. 

But I might make straccetti with rughetta (thin beef slices, oil, garlic, sage, wine, rocket,  vinegar or lemon - already at 6 ingredients - but it's on the table in five minutes.  Or a rice salad (rice, frozen peas, tomatoes, carrots, pickles, tuna, parsley, oil, vinegar, onion... 10 ingredients already, but ready in the time it takes to boil rice and works as first course, second course and side dish all in one!). 
 
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'The Four Ingredient Cookbook' Henry McNulty  Octopus Books....

Seems to have been compiled for this specific situation with over a hundred pretty classy recipes. Its old so might only be available used...
 
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Foodie5951, thanks for the clarification.

Siduri, what you say makes perfect sense -- it's sort of what I was trying to get at, really. You just put it differently -- and probably better.

The other question would have to be technique -- what I can do in 5 minutes with a very good sharp knife, what a hamfisted incompetent with a CutCo paring knife can do in 5 minutes, and what a professional with brilliant knife skills can do in 5 minutes are worlds apart. Number of ingredients is silly. Still, that's not the OP's fault....

How about poulet grille au diable with simple salad?

Ingredients: a chicken, Dijon mustard, crusty bread, tomato, favorite salad green.

Spatchcock chicken -- takes 2-3 minutes if you barely know how, and you'll be teaching it. Lay flat in hot oven (or you can broil it both sides, whatever method you, the teacher, prefer). Cooks about 30 minutes, during which you do nothing at all. Remove chicken, brush with mustard, sprinkle with some crumbs ground off the bread with a microplane, shove under broiler. While it browns, slice the tomato, toss with the salad, slice the bread. Serve.

That doesn't take 5 minutes, but let's say you get home at 7:00. You take 5 minutes mucking around, then spatchcock the chicken and it's in the oven by 7:15, you serve a great dinner well before 8:00, and you've spent about 15 minutes in the kitchen if you're quite slow.

Oh, and let's bear in mind that you can pick up a whole chicken for about $0.99 per pound in Boston, a notoriously expensive place, and it'll weigh about 4#; add the rest of the ingredients and you've got dinner for 2-4 (depending how hungry) for well under $10 in Boston and a lot less in many other places.

Just a thought.
 
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Thank you again Chris, I might make that for my dinner tonight /img/vbsmilies/smilies/lol.gif
 
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Hi Chris. 

Spatchcock.  It's a great word, could be a great threat (I'll spatchcock you!) or an insult (you're nothing but a spatchcock!) - but strangely enough, with all my cookbook reading, i don't really know what it means.  Listening to the sound it sounds like maybe you cut it through the breastbone, (or through the backbone?) and spread it out flat?  (Like pollo alla diavola?)

I never thought of that as a way to get a sort of roast chicken on the table fast. When i'm in a hurry, I generally use thighs and cut them lenghthwise along the bone so they're divided in two pieces, to make them cook faster.  (though i like roast chicken better than practically anything except maybe a really good steak).  I'll try it. 

On the question of the five ingredients (it's really bothering me that someone would consider this an issue, as you can see) I would wonder what ingredients are they leaving out that would maybe make the dish a little better, without increasing the work time, but are leaving them out to manage to fit it into the five ingredient limit!  So artificial!!!
 
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Cut out the backbone, crack the breastbone, and flatten the chicken. It cooks quite quickly at high heat. Poulet grille au diable means "chicken grilled Devil-style," so it's probably exceedingly similar to Pollo alla diavolo, though I don't actually know. The "au diable" just means the mustard and crumb crust, really.
 
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ah, interesting chris.  I think in italy it's got hot pepper flakes sprinkled on it.  No mustard here, generally.  They sell them already opened here - though generally they;re very small - already regular chickens are pretty small, but these are usually even smaller. 
 
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Cut out the backbone, crack the breastbone, and flatten the chicken. It cooks quite quickly at high heat. Poulet grille au diable means "chicken grilled Devil-style," so it's probably exceedingly similar to Pollo alla diavolo, though I don't actually know. The "au diable" just means the mustard and crumb crust, really.
This is funny, in France we call this "Poulet à l'americaine" (for "American style chicken"), but it does not have mustard or bread crumbs. It is seved with "Sauce Diable", which is veal stock with a bit of tomato paste, shallots, black pepper, white wine and vinegar, montée au beurre.
 
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Oops, my mistake, Chris, you were right on the mustard/crumb part: I just pulled up an old French reference cooking book, and it does indeed indicate to slather the grilled chicken with mustard, sprinkle bread crumbs and finish in the oven. I didn't know that!

As for the sauce au diable, the recipe is the same as I just wrote, except they use chicken stock instead of veal stock.
 
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You're so right, Siduri. It's a great word, easy to have fun with.

It's also one of those terms that everybody thinks they understand, but don't. We've had discussions about it before.

Some people say "spatchcock" and "butterfly" are synonyms (one source even goes so far as to claim that "spatchcock" is British, and "butterfly" American).

Some, and I subscribe to this view, say there is a difference. For me, if you remove the backbone; score the keel if necessary, and flatten the bird, that's butterflying. If you actually remove all the bones (other than those in the legs), then it's spatchcocking.

Because the heat actually penetrates the flesh faster, both butterflying and spatchcocking will, indeed, help roast a bird more quickly---butterflying faster than a whole bird, and spatchcocking even faster than that.

When grilling, a spatchcocked bird does not have to be turned. The advantage to that is not only speed of cooking, but it allows you to sauce the bird while it cooks, without the sugars carmelizing too quickly.

The downside to spatchcocking is that you lose the flavors imparted by the bones.
 
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Spatchcock is basically what many might know as butterfly.  You take your good, solid kitchen shears in one hand, the whole chicken in the other.  Cut from the tail to the neck along one side of the backbone.  The rib bones aren't that tough.  Repeat on the other side.  If I had a video camera and a chicken handy, I'd demonstrate.  It really isn't that difficult.  But just removing the backbone, which is saved for stock making later, will not get the chicken to lay flat.  Close, and often good enough for many recipes.  To get it even flatter you have to deal with the keel bone, that familiar piece between the breasts.

Now that I am thinking about it, I do believe that Alton Brown demonstrated the technique on Good Eats at one time.  I may poke around and see if I can find that episode.

mjb.
 
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See what I mean. For Teamfat, spatchcock and butterfly are synonyms. And many sources treat it that way.

But most sources I checked include partially deboning, so that the keel, breastbones, and ribs are removed. Thus:

"A spatchcocked chicken, like a butterflied chicken, is a chicken that has had the back and breastbones removed so it can be opened up and flattened out like a book. This way, it cooks faster and more even all around."

And:

 

"A spatchcock is a poussin or game bird that is prepared for roasting or grilling or a bird that has been cooked after being prepared in this way. The method of preparing the bird involves removing the backbone and sternum of the bird and flattening it out before cooking[sup][1][/sup]."



Although not everyone agrees, the most likely derivation is from "dispatch the cock," and is probably originally Irish.

But just removing the backbone, which is saved for stock making later, will not get the chicken to lay flat. 

Depends on the size and age of the bird. Young chickens and most gamebirds can be butterflyed and made to lay flat without scoring the keelbone. Older chickens usually need that extra help.

The real test is your ability to break the wishbone without help from cutlery. Open the bird like a book, with the flesh side up. Hit it sharply with your fist or the flat of a cleaver. More times than not, that's all it takes. If not, turn it back over, score the keelbone, and repeat the above.

Frankly, the larger the bird the easier it is to actually spatchcock (i.e., remove the bones). But I hate to think about how many quail I've treated that way. What a pain! But faster to cook, and a much nicer presentation.
 
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Ducasse's Grand Livre de Cuisine, which is poorly but literally translated, uses the term "spat-cooked," as a translation of "cuit sur la braise." He removes the ribs by the shoulder but not elsewhere.
 
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Chris, does "braise" in that phrase mean the same as it does in English? And what is "cuit?"

Besides which, I'd almost bet that the translater saw something lewd or otherwise off-putting in "spatchcock" and so changed is to something similar sounding.
 
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Chris, does "braise" in that phrase mean the same as it does in English? And what is "cuit?"

Besides which, I'd almost bet that the translater saw something lewd or otherwise off-putting in "spatchcock" and so changed is to something similar sounding.
"Braise" is a noun here, and means "embers" -- sur le braise = over the embers. "Cuit" is just the past participle of cuire, "to cook." So the phrase really means nothing more than "cooked over the embers." I did find another recipe in the same book: "Spat Cooked Squabs with Pommes Dauphine in a 'Sauce a la diable'" -- Pigeonneau cuit sur la braise en crapaudine, pommes dauphine, sauce--condiment a la diable. So it turns out they're rendering en crapaudine as "spatchcocked," "spat-cooked," etc. (en crapaudine, "in toad form"). I thought it was odd!

As you noted earlier, the current edition of the OED gives the term "spatchcock" as from Irish usage, already in its first English usage meaning a bird killed, immediately split open, and broiled. "Spatch," from "dispatch," is quite a bit earlier, and the two may have gotten muddied together, as often happens with English words. Whether you want to distinguish "butterfly" from "spatchcock" strikes me as a piece of precision that the older history won't sustain, so it's more a question of arguing what the words should mean now, instead of what they already mean.

"Spat-cooked" is a perfectly plausible usage, but I don't see it anywhere obvious. It would presumably mean "cooked like spat" (essentially baby oysters), "cooked on a spatula (or spatula-style)," or "cooked by, while, or after slapping" -- those all being established meanings of "spat." I suspect the mediocre translators here ran into "spatchcock," didn't know what it meant, and were reminded of "spit-cooked." Not everyone has as dirty a mind as you and I do, you know. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/crazy.gif
 
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