Dinner In 20 Minutes Or Less

Making dinner in just 20 minutes is what Chris Kimball calls "the holy grail of weeknight cooking."

Kimball and his team at "America's Test Kitchen" have collected some of their favorite "Flash in a Pan" recipes - dishes that cook in 20 minutes or less - for their latest cookbook, "America's Test Kitchen Live!"

"Many recipes make good on this promise," the book says, "But most ultimately reflect the minimal effort exerted on the part of the cook. They are fine in a pinch, but rarely worth making again. But it doesn't have to be this way."

Read an excerpt here. On Monday's The Early Show, Kimball shows us how to prepare the following recipes:

Pan-Seared Shrimp
Serves 4

The cooking times below are for extra-large shrimp (there are 21 to 25 in 1 pound). If this size is not available in your market, buy large shrimp - the next size down - and adjust the cooking times slightly. Either a nonstick or a traditional skillet will work for this recipe, but a nonstick simplifies cleanup.

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 1/2 pounds extra-large shrimp (21 to 25 per pound), peeled and deveined
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon sugar

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a 12-inch skillet over high heat until smoking. Meanwhile, toss the shrimp, salt, pepper and sugar in a bowl. Add half of the shrimp to the pan in a single layer and cook until spotty brown and the edges turn pink, about 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat.

Using tongs, flip each shrimp and let stand until all but the very center is opaque, about 30 seconds. Transfer the shrimp to a large plate.

Repeat with the remaining tablespoon of oil and the remaining shrimp. After the second batch has stood off from the heat, return the first batch to the skillet and toss to combine. Cover the skillet and let stand until the shrimp are cooked through, 1 to 2 minutes. Serve immediately.

Variation:

Pan-Seared Shrimp With Chipotle-Lime Glaze

Stir 1 chipotle chile in adobo, minced, 2 teaspoons adobo sauce, 4 teaspoons brown sugar, 2 tablespoons lime juice, and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves together in a small bowl. Follow the recipe for Pan-Seared Shrimp, adding chipotle mixture when returning the first batch of shrimp to the skillet.

Sauteed Chicken Cutlets With Mustard-Cider Sauce
Serves 4

To make slicing the cutlets in half even easier, pop the chicken into the freezer until firm, about 15 minutes.

Chicken Cutlets
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (6 to 8 ounces each)
Salt and ground black pepper
Vegetable oil

Mustard-Cider Sauce
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 medium shallot, minced (about 3 tablespoons)
1 1/4 cups apple cider
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
2 teaspoons minced fresh parsley leaves
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt and ground black pepper

  1. For The Chicken: Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 200 degrees. Season both sides of each cutlet with salt and pepper. Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until smoking. Place 4 cutlets in the skillet and cook without moving them until browned, about 2 minutes. Using a spatula, flip the cutlets and continue to cook until the second sides are opaque, 15 to 20 seconds. Transfer to a large heatproof plate. Add 2 teaspoons of oil to the now-empty skillet and repeat to cook the remaining cutlets. Cover the plate loosely with foil and transfer it to the oven to keep warm while making the sauce.
  2. For The Sauce: Off the heat, add the oil and shallots to the hot skillet. Using residual heat, cook, stirring constantly, until softened, about 30 seconds. Set the skillet over medium-high heat and add the cider and the vinegar. Bring to a simmer, scraping the pan bottom with a wooden spoon to loosen any browned bits. Simmer until reduced to 1/2 cup, 6 to 7 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the mustard and parsley; whisk in the butter 1 tablespoon at a time. Season with salt and pepper and serve immediately with the cutlets.

Variation:

Sauteed Chicken Cutlets with Shallot and Wine Sauce

Follow the recipe for Sauteed Chicken Cutlets with Mustard-Cider Sauce, substituting 1/2 cup dry white wine and 3/4 cup cup low-sodium chicken broth for the cider, omitting the vinegar and mustard, replacing the parsley with 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme, and increasing the butter to 3 tablespoons.

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