F&W’s Managing Editor, Mary Ellen Ward, calls Lunch Club “civilized.” In reality, Lisa Kim, F&W’s assistant photo editor, and I make lunch for each other because we’re broke and have big appetites. (A Pret A Manger sandwich will almost always leave us hungry in three hours, a salad from Hale and Hearty Soups in two.)
Lunch Club rules are simple: I bring lunch for the first half of the week, she does the last half, and we cap our ingredient spending at $5 per meal. Surrounded by chef recipes prepared by our amazing Test Kitchen staff all day, Lisa and I were undoubtedly daunted at first. We almost always prepared a F&W recipe—sometimes up to three for a meal—using them as crutches, each desperately hoping to please the other. Then, when it was time to eat, we turned into culinary Woody Allens, all our anxieties spewing forth: “Too salty?” “Undersalted?” “Too well done?” “Underdone?” “I’m REALLY sorry.”
Three months into it, however, we've turned, well, downright lazy. Prep time for my last meal was about three minutes: I chopped up some endive and radicchio to add to a prewashed lettuce mix, which I tossed with capers, olive oil and balsamic vinegar. And I bought a rotisserie from Murray's Chickens. For today’s lunch Lisa took more time, though not by much. She roasted brussels sprouts with D’Artagnan black truffle butter (which we mentioned in our Gift Guide in last December’s issue) and pan-seared pork chops she had coated with Stubb’s Pork Marinade.
Earlier today, Senior Test Kitchen Associate Grace Parisi asked us how our Lunch Club was coming along. Lisa and I gave each other embarrassed looks. “Pathetic,” we both said, detailing our most recent minuteman endeavors. Grace told us we were just being realistic. “You can call it prefab,” she insisted.