Monday, August 22, 2011

My Method for a One Skillet Meal

Way back when hubby and I were first together, we made the deal that as long as I would cook he would clean the dishes.  At the time he did not know what a messy cook I was.  Sometimes I feel bad for him with all the dishes and bowls and pots and pans that I dirty, so I take mercy on him, and make a one skillet meal. 

My idea of a one skillet meal has nothing to do with boxed or frozen meals.  For me really, it comes down to a single pan (usually cast iron) being used to cook everything.  Sometimes everything cooks at once in the pan.  Other times, like the meal I made this evening, I just keep using the pan over and over letting the food pick up all the lovely browned bits from the bottom of the pan.

This meal was pretty simple.  I started with a 1.25 pound flat iron steak (these happen to go on sale quite often here, and I love the real beefiness of this cut of meat).  I seasoned it simply with iodized sea salt and fresh cracked black pepper.  I heated my cast iron skillet on medium to medium high heat with about a tablespoon of grapeseed oil.  Once the pan was hot, I sat my steak in it, and allowed it to cook for 5 minutes on the first side.

While the first side was cooking, I sliced two red bell peppers, and a small container of cremini mushrooms.  When it was time to flip the steak, I added the peppers to one side of the pan beside the steak, and the mushrooms to the other side, as seen in the picture below.

I added more salt and fresh cracked pepper to the peppers and mushrooms in the pan.  I allowed the steak to cook an additional 2.5 minutes on this side, and then set it out to rest on a platter (this yielded a medium steak, which is a little more done than we like it and I will reduce the first side cooking time to 4 minutes and the flip side to 2 minutes next time).  When I removed the steak from the pan, I stir fried the peppers and mushrooms together until they were tender (normally I would have had onions in the mix, but GASP, I was out of onions). 

While the peppers and mushrooms were stir frying, I chopped a large zucchini and after I removed the peppers and mushrooms from the pan, I added the zucchini along with the juices that had accumulated in the platter the steak was sitting in.  The zucchini really picked up the flavor of the steak from those juices, and the yummy bits in the bottom of the pan.  In the pictures below, you can see the color the zucchinis were when I started, versus the color they were after they grabbed on to all of that flavor. 

Once the zucchini were tender, I plated everything together on a platter, and placed the sliced steak on top.

Dinner was an easy clean up.  One cutting board, and one knife, a pair of tongs, a cast iron skillet, a platter, three plates, and three forks.  Hubby almost had it all cleaned up before I had his lunch packaged up for the next day.  I always try to make enough food that hubby can take leftovers for lunch the next day, because that makes him feel loved, and it means he doesn’t have to spend any of his “pocket money” on a meal out that is nowhere near as good as what he gets at home.

This entry has been more about a method of cooking than a single recipe.  Substitute whatever cut of meat you have on hand, and whatever summer veggies you have in the fridge.  Add lime juice, cumin and chili powder for a taste like fajitas.  Add a splash of Worcestershire sauce to the pan if you like that flavor.  Don’t be afraid to experiment with dishes, and make them your own.  This would also qualify as a five ingredient meal.  After all, we only used a steak, bell peppers, mushrooms, zucchini and grapeseed oil (salt and pepper are freebies in five ingredient meals).  Get in your kitchen, out on the grill or over a campfire, and give this method a try.  I am sure you will come up with something tasty!

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