Serious Eats: Recipes

Eat for Eight Bucks: Meat and Two Veg

[Photograph: Robin Bellinger]

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1 pound flank steak: $8.00
1 bunch carrots: $1.50
1 bunch chard: $1.50
1 cup lentils: $0.75
1 lemon: $0.50

Pantry items: Salt, pepper, olive oil, vinegar, garlic.

Total cost (per meal serving 2): $6.13

Here are two menus for—well, not the price of one, but, I'd say, for the work of one. Broil a pound of flank steak to serve as two dinners (or one dinner and one lunch) for two people. The first meal is warm flank steak with carrot salad and sautéed chard. The second meal is a lentil salad full of tender bits of carrot and chard stem and topped with slices of leftover flank steak. Put the lentils on to simmer while you prepare everything else, and by the time tonight's dinner is ready, tomorrow's will be, too.

These dishes are very simply flavored but easy enough to tweak with your favorite spices or whatever fresh herbs happen to be around. Many of you could probably make these meals in your sleep, but I've written instructions out below since this kind of choreography helped me when I was learning how to cook. If you know that four ounces of meat and a heap of vegetables will not fill you up, you should be able to add a slice of cheese or a loaf of bread without breaking the budget.

Until Colwin made me put flank steak under the broiler, I always had bad luck with those relatively inexpensive "steaks" (skirt, hanger, etc.) that we're told to cook quickly to vivid pinkness before slicing in some crucially specific way. No matter how carefully I followed instructions, my steaks were ruby raw in the middle and tough throughout. That Home Cooking magic made me give it another go, however, and I discovered a reliable and all but effortless way to put meat on the table. It isn't even a recipe: season a flank steak, broil 5 minutes per side, and let rest for 10 minutes before slicing very, very thinly on the diagonal. If you like very rare meat, you'll want to cook the steak 4 minutes per side or perhaps even a bit less, depending on your oven. I have the kind of broiler that is a drawer beneath my gas oven and cannot speak to this method's success with the kind of broiler that is at the top of an electric oven.

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