The Breakfast Burrito: An Unusual Study on Kitchen Efficiency

Note: The recipe below is a tad bit different from my usual ones.  I will not only focus on the traditional “food” aspects (in black text) but also the non-cooking parts that make a big difference (in red).  There will be many steps.  And like an athlete learning how to execute a golf swing for the first time, it WILL look intimidating.  But mastering the art of efficiency will allow you to do less cooking, more eating, and get you to the point where you’re not crushed by the debilitating case of “Food Network-envy”. A few weeks back, I wrote about the reason many of us have become so disillusioned by cooking.   It’s no wonder with all these unrealistic expectations society has hoisted on us.  Cook 3 courses in 30 mins!  Roast a chicken in half an hour!  Impress your date with an herb-crusted pork roulade with vegetable terrine and wine demi-glace under an hour (I’m kidding….but you get the gist)! What then?  Well…I think we need to spend more time focusing on the aspects of cooking oft ignored by the TV shows: movement, mise en place, shopping…in short: the setup.

20131103_193458

 I found the perfect time to do it when I was placed on a quick client for 4 days.  That meant 4 days to haul ass.  4 days of the inability to sit down and make a nice hot breakfast.  Enter the Breakfast Burrito, simple to make but with enough complexity to keep your belly happy.  The challenge: make enough Breakfast Burritos for 4 days within 30 mins. including setup and cleanup (excluding shopping). Yes guys…it can be done.  But not without proper preparation. Let’s get started. (Note: I won’t assume you’ve got the perfect setup. Instead, let’s take a typical night: dirty dishes in sink, uncleaned pan, etc. In addition, let’s assume you haven’t prepped ANY ingredients. All you have to do at this point is line up all your ingredients on your counter next to the stove unwrapped and ready for magic.)

EQUIPMENT:

Frying pan Baking sheet (for assembly)
Plate (to park chopped ingredients)
Couple of spoons
Plastic takeout soup containers (opt.)
Knife
Big bowl or plastic bag for trash

 

INGREDIENTS:

Pack of tortilla shells/wraps
4-5 strips of thick-cut bacon (or any flavorful meat like chorizo), chopped
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1/2 onion, minced
1 red bell pepper, minced
3-4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tomato, diced
1 pack salad mix (I mean…you can chop your own veggies but kinda defeats the whole efficiency part no?)
8 eggs (and don’t you DARE remove the egg yolks.  The cholesterol’s good for you.  Especially you testosterone-deficient men out there)
Spices (I used: salt, pepper, paprika, the green Yucateca hot sauce)

 

ABOUT TO GO HAM:

OK…take a deep, deep breath, turn on some music that’s got a good beat (I’m all up in a Deep House daze right now so check out DJ Danny Dance, Ahmet Kilic, or Anzari & III.  You’re welcome).  Here…we…go! (4 mins.)

1) Quickly clean only the essential tools you need as listed above.  Leave the other dishes in the sink for now. If all your stuff’s clean, good for you! (2 mins.)

2) Lay out your bacon and slice it real quick. (30 secs.)

3) Heat some oil in the pan on high.  While this happens, lay out your wraps on the baking sheet. (3 mins.)

4) Toss the bacon in the oil and cook.  While this happens, slice the mushrooms, garlic, and onions and place on plate.  Toss the peels into your trash bowl. Once the bacon is nice and crispy, remove it and place on paper towels in a bowl to drain. (2 mins.)

5) Toss the mushrooms into the pan and cook.  The umami from the mushrooms will combine with the bacon-infused oil for some epicness.  While this happens, slice up your bell pepper and tomatoes and place on plate.  Toss trash into the trash bowl. (5 mins.)

Uno...

Uno…

6) When the mushrooms look semi-done (they’re not white anymore), toss in the bell pepper and tomatoes and reduce the heat to medium.  While this cooks, open up your salad mix and place a handful on each wrap.  Put the salad mix back in the fridge. (1.5 mins.)

Dos...

Dos…

7) When the veggies are done to your liking (some like it soft, I like it a tad bit crunchy), use a spoon to divide them onto each wrap. (2 mins.)

Tres...

Tres…

8) Heat a little more oil on the pan.  While this happens, toss your plate, knife, and chopping board into the sink and any other trash into the trash bowl.  Once heated, break all 8 eggs into the pan and scramble. Season w/ spices as you go. (3 mins.)

9) This is a crucial point.  The eggs will need a bit of time to cook and while that happens, get right to cleaning.  Clean your knife, chopping board, and whatever dishes you have.  You don’t have to finish.  You just gotta utilize the downtime while waiting for the eggs. (2 mins.)

10) Scoop the eggs onto each wrap and top with the bacon from earlier.  Use the remaining time to roll up the wraps and put in separate container or in foil for later consumption.

I'm about dat life...

I’m about dat life…

That should take you up to 25 mins. with 5 mins. of flext time if you had any hold ups. I’ll be honest.  I took about 41 mins. due to the doorbell ringing and a quick discussion of the Twitter IPO with the roomie.  Other than that, this should be possible within the 30 mins. Final notes: this is NOT a chill, easygoing method. You pull off 30 min. meals with speed and economy of movement. You want easygoing? Order in, turn on a cooking show, and fantasize about serving a 3-course meal with your posh friends in your house in the Hamptons.  However, the payoff was apparent.  30 mins. of intense cooking saved me about 15 mins. every morning of prep and cooking, not to mention the goodwill of arriving to work at an early hour. I’ll write a follow-up post summarizing the thinking and methodology of the “quick meal” but for now, practice this mode of cooking and soon enough, you won’t have to face the constant disappointment of not being able to pull of a quick dish, TV celebrity chef-style.

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