The Five Minute Dinner
We’ve all had the dream: you are taking the SAT, and you realize that you have only finished the first page of forty with ten minutes left. You are fifty miles from the hospital, and the baby is already starting to come out. Or (and this is the one most likely to come true), you are making dinner for somebody and realize that you fell asleep and that they will be there in ten minutes and you haven’t done anything. No one can cook an elegant meal in five minutes!
Or can they?
I am here to tell you that you can make a fantastic dinner in literally five minutes. I challenge anybody in the food world to cook a good meal faster. (Raw foods enthusiasts don’t count.) I prepped, cooked, and served a dinner of braised pork chops, crisp and delicate potato webs, and string beans sauteed in hot pepper and garlic oil in less time than it takes to play Stairway to Heaven. All it took was a cool heady and a steady hand.
7:00 – 6:50: Put three pans on three burners, and turn them all up all the way. When they are hot you can turn them down a little. One of the pans, the biggest, should have a lid.
6:50 – 5:50: Take out two medium size pork chops. Rain coarse salt on them, and a little black pepper. Take out the olive oil and a stick of butter. Grab a potato and a grater. Open a bottle of wine or beer. Bash two cloves of garlic, and knock off their skins. Don’t bother cutting them up; there’s no time.
5:50 – 5:35: Pour olive oil in two of the pans and a big chunk of butter into the other one. Throw the garlic into one of the pans. Mash it around a little bit. Add some red pepper flakes. We are now ready to start cooking!
5:35 – 4:00: Turn on the vents. We are going to make some smoke! Throw the pork chops in the pan. They should sizzle. Don’t move them at all. Throw a big handful of string beans into the garlic and pepper oil. Shake them. Rain salt down. Shake them again. The butter should have melted in the third pan; spread it out with a spatula so the whole ban has sizzling butter on it.
4:00 – 3:00: Grate the potato on the coarse side onto the butter. Obviously you haven’t peeled it, but that’s OK. That will just make it taste better. Take care not to pile on a lot of potatoes, though; you are making a web; there should be as much pan showing as potato. Turn the heat down a little and salt. Shake the bean pan. Flip the pork chops.
3:00 – 1:00: Let the pork chops cook on the other side for about ten seconds or so; then pour wine up to about midway on them. The wine will sizzle madly and emit a cloud of fumes, but that’s OK too. If you want to throw something in there along with the wine – say some sage or oregano or any herbs, fresh or dried, that you have around, now is the time to do it. Close the lid and turn down the heat a little. Flip the potatoes. Shake the beans again. You now have about a minute or so to take out two plates. Do so!
1:00 – 0:00: In the last minute, you’ll pull the potatoes first; hopefully they will be brown and buttery on both sides and will have bonded into a web, thanks to the potato starch you’ve released. The beans will be seared and firm, with a peppery bite and a garlicky aroma; put a few on each plate. Lastly, pull the lid off the pork chops. Pull them out and put one on each plate. Throw a chunk of butter into the boiling wine. Whisk it around and around and around. Spoon a little of the thickened sauce on top of each pork chop. Wipe your hands and brow. When your wife walks in, tell her you have been cooking all day.