5 easy recipes you should know how to make
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Whether you want to learn to cook, cook more or just cook less packaged food, here is a great place to start. These five recipes are easy, fast and require no special spices or equipment beyond an oven-safe between 9, 10 or 11-inch skillet, a sheet pan, a wooden spoon and a decent chef’s knife. They all contain six ingredients or fewer. And any leftovers can become the foundation for other dishes.
Simplest Roast Chicken
A roast chicken is the culinary equivalent of the little black dress: It’s appropriate for almost any occasion: a weeknight supper, a dinner party, a Sunday dinner, a potluck. This one, from Mark Bittman, has only four ingredients and yields a crisp exterior with moist and tender meat. His recipe calls for a cast-iron skillet, but an oven-safe skillet will do just fine. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, don’t sweat it. Just cook until the juices run clear when you pierce the meat.
Leftover ideas: Chicken salad, Chinese chicken salad, chicken soup.
Don’t let the thought of cooking a steak at home intimidate you. Follow this simple recipe from Julia Moskin, and you should get a perfect steak. The secret lies in salting the pan (not the meat) and searing the steak in it at an “insanely hot” temperature. You’ll get a bit of smoke, so open the windows and, as one of our clever readers suggested, cover your smoke alarm with a shower cap. (Don’t forget to uncover it afterward.) You don’t have to use a cast-iron pan for this, but we don’t recommend a nonstick skillet.
Leftovers ideas: Steak fajitas, fried rice, hash.
Classic Marinara Sauce
Step away from the Prego. There’s just no good reason you can’t make your own when it’s this easy, cheap and fast. It’s just six ingredients, which you can throw together in about 25 minutes. Be sure to use a skillet (a large, low-sided pan), not a saucepan (a medium, deep-sided pan). This speeds up the reduction process considerably. The sauce freezes like a charm, so make a double batch and do just that.
Leftover ideas: Eggs in Purgatory, shrimp alla marinara.
Roasting transforms otherwise “meh” vegetables into something marvelous, by crisping and caramelizing them. This crazily simple recipe from Melissa Clark shows you how to roast practically any vegetable, including beets and broccoli rabe. All you need is olive oil, salt and pepper. Roasted vegetables are the perfect accompaniment to steak or chicken, or on their own crowned with a fried egg, a scoop of creamy yogurt or some crumbled feta.
Leftover ideas: Frittata; tacos: with aioli, with polenta.
Shake up a bottle of this sunny stuff on Sunday and it will last you the week. It’s subtle enough for soft greens like mesclun, but pungent enough to stand up to hearty greens like kale. Try tossing it with some quartered and boiled red potatoes and crisp bacon bits for an impromptu warm potato salad.
Leftover ideas: This will last indefinitely if you keep it refrigerated, so there’s no reason to use it all in a certain period of time. But you can deploy it as a marinade for boneless chicken breasts or thighs. Or drizzle it over a salmon filet and roast it.
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