Monday, July 11, 2011

Minute Meal Mondays

So this will be the last week of MMM. If you enjoyed it, and/or if you would like to see it again, please let me know! I am gearing up to start a new series "Super Summer Sides." I only like alliteration a little bit. More to come on that later! Today's recipe is more of a cooking technique than a recipe. I'd like to introduce you to the wonderful world of...(insert dah duh dah dah! here) Broiling!

Most ovens have a broiler. In fact, I've never seen an oven that didn't. Yours is most likely on the top of the inside of your oven if you have an electric stove, or in the bottom if you have gas. Now, I understand you may be apprehensive. You may be thinking..."but the broiler always burns stuff." Fear not, my fair readers! I am hear to reveal the secrets that will make the broiler your best friend!

Start with your favorite meat...I did chicken breasts, and they were AMAZING! Tender, juicy, full of flavor, and from freezer to done in about 20 min, maybe less. To shorten prep time, you can put your meat in the fridge to defrost 2 days before. If you are a bird brain like me (how long can I claim it's pregnancy brain?) you can use your microwave to defrost. If you have time to use a 20-30 min. marinade on your meat, or let it marinade overnight, GREAT...but it's not necessary to still have great meat. Other cuts of meat that work well are pork chops, fish filets, and steaks.

Trick #1: Use a meat mallet/ meat tenderizer to pound out meat to about a 1/2 inch thickness. You want it thick enough that it doesn't get dried out, but thin enough that it cooks evenly and quickly. (Yes, even do this to chicken breasts. It makes them DIVINE!

Trick #2: Use a glaze or a marinade. If you use something thick, water some of it down a little and pour a little in your pain around the meat.

Trick #3: Use a pastry brush to paint the marinade on both sides, then after cooking one side and flipping, re-paint the new side that is up before returning to the oven.

Trick #4: Pre-heat your broiler while doing your prep work.

Trick #5: Use a foil-lined cookie sheet for easy clean up!

Another great thing about broiling is that it tastes similar to grilling, is easier (or just as easy) as pan frying, but you need no added fat, and you don't have to stand over a hot stove to do it! You can pop your meat in the broiler, do a simple side dish while it's cooking, or use the time to work on clearing one of your "clutter catcher" area's ala Joyful Mothering's Homemaker's Challenge this week!

Here's the recipe that I used for marinade for my chicken breasts that I made in the broiler last night...I forgot to snap a picture, insert face palm here, but they had a beautiful bit of crustiness without being dried out or over crisp.

1 min. marinade
1/4 cup of soy sauce (we use a low sodium variety)
1/4 cup of orange juice (fresh or from concentrate is fine.)
1/8 cup of lime juice (fresh squeezed, *real lime*, or from concentrate is fine.)
approx. 2 cloves minced garlic (I used pre-minced refridgerated garlic, but you could use 2 fresh cloves pressed or minced.)
appox. 1 tsp black pepper...fresh ground is even better, but you will probably need less.
1/8 cup olive, or grapeseed oil

Turn on your broiler. Whisk ingredients together and let sit while you pound the meat out with your mallet...don't worry if the oil seperates out a bit. When your meat has reached the desired thickness place it on the foil lined baking sheet. Paint a good layer of marinade on the side of the meat that is facing up, stirring as you go if necessary, pour a little marinade between your meat on the pan, flip your meat, and paint the other side. Place in broiler, set timer according to table below. When the timer sounds, check that the side of the meat that is facing up is fully cooked (the bottom will still be raw) flip the meat, and, stirring as you go, paint with another generous helping of marinade...not making puddles on it, but just making sure it's enough to keep the meat from browning too quickly before it's cooked through. Return meat to oven, set timer for additional time. When timer sounds, temp meat with a meat thermometer (if you don't have one, get one! Digital is my favorite, and you can pick one up for $6-9 at your local grocer usually. It is seriously a cooks best friend! You can tell if you meat is cooked through, without accidentally overcooking it for fear of under cooking it!) Refer to the table 2 below for the temperature guidelines for meat "doneness." Eat and enjoy your quick, easy, delicious meal!

Table 1: Meat Broiling Temperatures
Type of Meat Broil Time
Beef approx. 5 min. each side, for medium-well
Pork approx. 4 min. each side
Chicken approx. 8 min. each side (I did six on the first, and 8 after flipping.)
Fish (Tilapia, Cod, etc.) approx. 3-4 min. each side

When in doubt, err on the side of cooking too short of time, rather than too long, then your meat thermometer and the table below as a guidline for determining doneness.

Table 2: Meat Temperature Guidelines
Type of Meat Temperature and doneness level
Beef 120-125 Rare
Beef 130-135 Medium Rare
Beef 140-145 Medium
Beef 150-155 Medium Well
Beef 160+ Well done (the higher the temp, the drier, and more brown it will be.)
As a disclaimer, ground beef should be cooked to a temp of at least 160 degrees, and until no longer pink.
Pork 160+ (You should not eat undercooked pork.)
Chicken 165+ (You should not eat undercooked chicken.)
Fish 140+ Cook until it flakes easily, but do NOT over cook or it will become tough and rubbery.
Tuna, Swordfish or Marlin 125+ Again, do not overcook.

I hope you found this information useful, and interesting. If you make something using one of my recipes, I'd love to hear about it! What's your favorite quick cooking method?

Image: Carlos Porto /

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