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A Quick Bistro-Style Dinner

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Fast food, French-style

The term “bistro” tends to conjure up visions of homey, slow-cooked braises, but you can capture the same flavors and flair with this quick menu, which lets you have dinner on the table less than 45 minutes after you start chopping. The slowest element is the sweet-wine and honey roasted pears, but they’re so hands-off that they can roast in the oven while you enjoy a relaxed dinner. Round out the meal with some crusty French bread. 

Menu Timeline

If you prefer not to have dessert roasting in the oven as you eat, you can also roast the pears in advance and reheat.

Forty minutes before dinner:

  • Heat oven to 400°F.
  • Prepare salad greens and mix dressing ingredients (keep them separate for now).
  • Cut carrots; mince shallots and herbs for flank steak.
  • Peel and core pears, arrange in baking dish, and drizzle with honey and wine.

Twenty minutes before dinner:

  • Put carrots on to simmer.
  • Sear steak; finish in oven.
  • Take steak from oven and tent with foil. Immediately lower oven temperature to 375°F and put pears in to roast.
  • Make pan sauce for steak.

Just before sitting down to dinner:

  • Toss carrots with fresh herbs and adjust seasoning.
  • Slice steak.
  • Toss salad with dressing.
  • Remove cream from refrigerator to come to room temperature.

Pears will continue to roast for 40 to 45 minutes during dinner (check them once to baste).

Shopping List

Fresh Produce

  • 1 large bunch watercress
  • 1 large or two small heads butter lettuce
  • 1-1/2 pounds carrots (about 8)
  • 1 large bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 small bunch chervil or chives (optional)
  • 1 small bunch tarragon
  • 1 small bunch thyme
  • 2 large shallots
  • 4 firm-ripe pears (any variety)
  • 2 medium lemons

Meat, Eggs & Dairy

  • 1 flank steak, about 1-1/2 lb.
  • 1/3 to 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter

Other Groceries

  • 1/2 cup sweet dessert wine, such as a late-harvest Muscat or a Viognier like Bonny Doon’s Viognier Doux
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine

Pantry Staples

  • 9 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. corn oil
  • 3 medium cloves garlic
  • 3/4 cup low-salt beef broth
  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • Kosher salt
  • Whole black peppercorns

The Menu


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