The Minimalist Cooks Dinner showcases Mark Bittman’s signature ease and imagination, and focuses on center-of-the-plate main dishes. And, in this new volume, he also provides recipes for classic, versatile side dishes as well as recommendations for wine and food pairings. With a majority of its main dish recipes taking less than thirty minutes to prepare, this is truly the book every busy cook has been waiting for. Every recipe in The Minimalist Cooks Dinner is big on flavor, drawing on the global pantry and international repertoire that sets Bittman apart.
This inventive collection offers a refreshing new take on standards, along with ideas that will inspire both novices and experienced home cooks to branch out, making it the perfect solution for weeknight after-work meals or elegant weekend dinner parties. From Steamed Chicken Breasts with Scallion-Ginger Sauce to Korean-Style Beef Wrapped in Lettuce Leaves to Roast Fish with Meat Sauce, Bittman banishes the ordinary with an exciting range of choices. Also covering hearty pasta dishes, steaks, pork, veal, lamb, chicken, and a wide assortment of seafood, The Minimalist Cooks Dinner is the answer when you’re looking for “satisfying dishes with a minimum of effort.”
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Pot Roast with Cranberries
Unlike their cousin, the blueberry -- which is sometimes used in savory cooking, although almost never successfully -- cranberries are not at all sweet, and so make a much more natural companion for meat. This is a gutsy, appealing, and unusual pot roast, and one you can make quickly or slowly, depending on your time, taste, and budget.
Time: 1 1/2 hours, or more
Makes: 4 to 6 servings
1 tablespoon butter or extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup sugar
2- to 3-pound piece of chuck or brisket
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup sherry vinegar or good wine vinegar
12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
1. Put the butter in a casserole or skillet and turn the heat to medium-high. Put the sugar on a plate and dredge the meat in it until all the surfaces are coated. Reserve the remaining sugar. When the butter foam subsides, brown the meat on all sides --this will take about 15 minutes -- seasoning it with salt and pepper as it browns.
2. When the meat is nicely browned, add the vinegar and cook for a minute, stirring. Add the cranberries and remaining sugar and stir. Strip the zest from the orange (you can do it in broad strips, with a small knife or vegetable peeler) and add it to the skillet. Juice the orange and add the juice also, along with a pinch of cayenne. Turn the heat to low and cover; the mixture should bubble but not furiously.
3. Cook, turning the meat and stirring about every 30 minutes, for 2 hours or longer, or until the meat is tender. When the meat is done, taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. Turn off the heat and let the roast rest for a few minutes, then carve and serve, with the sauce.
Keys To Success
DUSTING THE MEAT with some of the sugar makes the browning process go much more rapidly, and leaves behind a caramelized residue that is deglazed by the vinegar when you add it. All of this lends complexity to the final dish.
MOST POT ROASTS depend for their flavor on the juices exuded by the meat itself; that's why tough, slow-cooking cuts like brisket or chuck are usually preferable. But since the meat's contribution here is minimized by the powerful cranberry-based combination, a faster-cooking cut like tenderloin works perfectly, reducing the cooking time to just over an hour.
With Minimal Effort
Faster Pot Roast with Cranberries: Substitute a 2-to-3-pound piece of tenderloin (filet mignon) for the chuck or brisket and reduce the cooking time to about 1 hour, or until the internal temperature is 125° to 130°F (medium-rare); you can cook it longer than that if you like.
Wine: Rioja, Merlot, or another soft red