It is interesting following recipes from books when they give a star rating for difficulty and estimated minutes it takes to perform the preparations to produce a meal. I have only one thing to say - they are gimmicks.
This week I was short of time and needed to put a meal on the table so I chose pork steaks, crushed new potatoes and peas with sage and onion seasoning. Rather than saying that this meal takes a specific amount of time I will say what is possible.
Roast pork plus trimmings
Really the success of any meal is in the planning. I've never really been a person who believes in cooking and keeping things warm, unless it is unavoidable, and neither do I believe in letting things 'rest'. I was brought up to serve hot food 'hot' and at a reasonable time. Having been in the situation where I've been invited for a meal at a certain time and then have had to wait a couple of hours or more beyond the stated time, I understand the frustration. Also I have been in the presence of very good cooks who have failed to get it all together as a result of poor planning.
Okay the above meal.
The planning comes with practice but you need to understand how you like your vegetables, how well cooked you want your meat and the sauce you may need to prepare. Now I am not attempting the sauce, a drop of gravy using gravy browning is a cheat but does the job if time is short. So that element takes as long as a kettle needs to boil.
The potatoes take 20 minutes and that is the backbone of the above meal. Pork chops will cook in 10 - 15 minutes and the peas in 10. That is all that you need to know for the majority of the meal. The extra ingredient, the sage and onion stuffing, is oven cooked for 25 - 30 minutes.
So to get this on the table in half an hour -
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius.
1st minute. Boil the kettle - measure the required quantity and stir into the sage and onion mix. A knob or two of butter and into the oven.
5th minute. Place the potatoes in a sauce pan and pour over the rest of the water from the kettle (waste not want not) and bring to the boil on the hob. Simmer for 20 minutes.
10th minute. Place oil and butter into a frying pan and heat up till the butter turns brown. Season the pork on both sides and place in the hot pan. Cook for 2 minutes and turn over and after another 2 minutes turn the heat down.
15th minute. Place the frozen peas in the pan with the potatoes.
25th minute. Remove the stuffing from the oven and remove the potatoes from the pan. Crush the potatoes with the back of a fork and add butter. Season. Make the gravy.
30th minute. Plate up and enjoy.
It is a very workman-like meal but it worked for me. You can add variations, different meat, vegetables and more cheffy touches, but then it does effect your timing.