How to Cook Everything Fast — Off the Shelf

Mark Bittman is back, and he’s about to revolutionize the way you eat dinner (again). In his newest cookbook, How to Cook Everything Fast, Bittman promises a better way to cook great food, and he certainly delivers.

The book starts with an introductory section and an overview (The Fast Kitchen) that is a culinary treasure trove of kitchen tips. It features everything from how to use to book to insights on families cooking together. It contains the last shopping list you’ll ever need, complete with details and notes on the ingredients and instructions for their proper storage. He also dispels the need (and the reasoning) for extensive mise en place right up front. The idea is to cook smarter and save yourself time by consolidating steps within the recipe.

Sound confusing? It really couldn’t be simpler to follow, thanks to Bittman’s new recipe layout. In easy-to-follow (color-coded) instructions, Bittman separates cooking actions and prep actions to keep you moving quickly and smoothly through each recipe, without clunky overuse of the word “meanwhile.” The book is broken down into sections featuring Main Dishes and Simpler, Smaller Dishes. Each Main Dish recipe gives suggestions for variations as well as immensely helpful suggestions for side dish pairings. And don’t be fooled; just because the recipes are simple doesn’t mean they aren’t absolutely mouthwatering. Bittman is known for his inventive, practical approach to layering flavors together, and one bite of the Broken Won Ton Soup, Skillet Meat Loaf or Broiled Ziti and you’ll see for yourself. Better yet, try the Fastest Chicken Parmesan at home (recipe below). The book is your one-stop shop for quick, easy, delicious meals, perfect for busy weeknights and activity-filled weekend days and busy families. How to Cook Everything Fast is on sale now, and you can order your copy   here .

Fastest Chicken Parm
Time: Faster (30 minutes or less)
Makes: 4 servings

This take on the classic couldn’t be easier: Instead of dredging and panfrying, just stack the

ingredients in two stages on a baking sheet and broil. Done this way, the tomatoes get lightly

roasted and the bread crumbs stay nice and crunchy. (For eggplant like this, see the Variations.)

Ingredients
5 tablespoons olive oil
3 medium ripe tomatoes
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds)
Salt and pepper
8 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese
2 ounces Parmesan cheese (1/2 cup grated)
1 bunch fresh basil
1 cup bread crumbs

Turn the broiler to high; put the rack 6 inches from the heat. Put 2 tablespoons olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet and spread it around; put the baking sheet in the broiler.

Core and slice the tomatoes.

Cut the chicken breasts in half horizontally to make 2 thin cutlets for each breast. Press down on each with the heel of your hand to flatten.

Carefully remove the baking sheet from the broiler. Put the chicken cutlets on the sheet and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Top with the tomatoes, and broil one side only until the chicken is no longer pink in the center, rotating the pan if necessary for even cooking, 5 to 10 minutes.

Grate the mozzarella and Parmesan.

Strip 16 to 20 basil leaves from the stems.

Combine the bread crumbs, mozzarella, and Parmesan in a small bowl.

When the chicken is cooked through, remove the baking sheet from the broiler. Lay the basil leaves on top of the tomatoes, sprinkle with the bread crumb and cheese mixture, and drizzle with 3 tablespoons olive oil.

Variations
Cubano Chicken

Use sliced dill pickles instead of the tomatoes and Swiss cheese instead of the mozzarella. Omit the basil. Before putting the pickles on top of the chicken in Step 2, spread a little Dijon mustard on the cutlets. Instead of the Parmesan, mix 1/2 cup chopped ham into the bread crumb and Swiss topping.

Chicken Melt

Use Gruyère cheese instead of the mozzarella and 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves instead of the basil. Omit the Parmesan. Before putting the tomatoes on top of the chicken in Step 2, spread a little Dijon mustard over the cutlets.

Fastest Eggplant Parm

Instead of the chicken, slice about 2 pounds large eggplant crosswise 1 inch thick. After the pan heats in Step 2, spread out the eggplant slices — but not the tomatoes — and turn to coat them in some oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Broil until softened and browned in places, about 3 to 5 minutes. Flip the eggplant, then top with the tomatoes and proceed with the recipe from the end of Step 2.

HOW TO COOK EVERYTHING FAST © 2014 by Double B Publishing, Inc. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.

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