Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

GOPM: Explanation and template

with 2 comments

This post offers a description and template for “Glorious One-Pot Meals.” Elizabeth Yarnell originated the cooking technique in her book of the same name: Cooking 2-4 meals at once (2 meals for very active adults, 4 meals for sedentary adults) in a 2-qt cast-iron Dutch oven (enameled or not), the food layered in the pot, which then is covered and put into a 450ºF oven for 45 minutes. The food is thus cooked mainly by the steam within the pot, which means that the meat is not browned (though it is tender) and fatty meats don’t work so well as leaner cuts.

Generally, you can assemble the pot of food in about the time it takes the oven to get to 450ºF. Variations are easy and almost always successful. I have used the technique often — see these posts for ideas.

Very important: This is not a “slow-cooker” method. Some see “one-pot” and stop thinking: even though they read the description, “one-pot” overrides everything and they think these are slow-cooker recipes. They are not: they are “fast-cooker”: 450ºF for just 45 minutes. Some foods that work well in slow cookers—shanks, oxtails, short-ribs—would not work at all in GOPM meals because those foods require long cooking at low heat, and this method is the opposite: short cooking at high heat.

Layering and a warning

The layering is one reason it works, and the layers make it easy to assemble the meal in your mind (the first creation, as Stephen Covey calls it) before assembling it in the pot (the second creation): that is, the technique makes it easy to improvise with some assurance that you know what you’re doing. (The layering technique is what Yarnell patented.) While I’ve had a failure—at most, two—the meals virtually always turn out to be tasty, nourishing, and balanced.

Two caveats about the recipes in her book: 1) they tend toward blandness (a little sprinkling of crushed red pepper helps), and 2) for some reason she cooks 4 servings (not 2) of rice. A serving of rice, measured before cooking, is 1/4 c, so two servings is 1/2 c. I generally use 1/3 c for two servings because I limit my intake of starch, but Yarnell’s recipes call for 1 cup (4 servings).  After I switched to a low-carb diet, I used 1/4 c—just enough to absorb extra liquid—and began using barley (pearled or pot barley or hulled) rather than rice, since barley has a lower glycemic index than rice. I also get four meals from one pot rather than two.

When I think of a recipe, I first consider what I’ll use for the three main parts: the starch, the protein, and the vegetables. Then I may think about the pour-over: the 1/4-1/3 c of liquid poured over the assembled vegetables just before covering the pot.

Pot options

The pot itself can be any cast-iron dutch oven that holds about two quarts. These tend to come in two versions: tall and narrow, or short and squat. Both work. Here are some possibilities:

AIDEA 2-qt dutch oven with skillet lid (enameled)
Tramontina enameled 2.5-qt sauce pot
Enameled cast-iron 2-qt sauce pot
Martha Stewart 2-qt dutch oven (enameled)
Bayou Classic 2.5 qt bean pot
Amazon Basics 2-qt dutch oven (pre-seasoned)
Cajun Cookware 2-qt sauce pot (pre-seasoned)
Bayou Classic 2-qt dutch oven (handle can be removed)
Lodge 2-qt dutch oven (pre-seasoned)
Le Creuset 2-qt dutch oven (enameled — and very expensive)

Staub for a time made a 2.25-qt (2-L) round cocotte with enameled exterior, some type of tough non-stick interior that I like a lot. The Staub comes with a metal knob to begin with—and a knob with a long shank, easy to grip while wearing oven mitts. Staub now seems to have 2.75 qt as the smallest size, and that’s rather large. The Staub 2.25-qt pot is is what I use.

Contents and assembly

I first spray the interior of pot and lid with olive oil, and then use a dry paper towel to wipe off excess oil, leaving only a thin film of oil. Then I layer the food. Below, and when I write recipes, I list the layers in the order in which they go into the pot—i.e., bottom layer first, and ending with the top layer.

It’s good to have some sort of “theme” in the back of your mind: Greek, Mediterranean, German (e.g., egg noodles, pork, cabbage, apples, etc.), Caribbean, Oriental, whatever. A theme will suggest things to include that go well together.

a. Starch: This is usually the first layer, or you can put it atop the aromatics. Starches that work well: white rice (converted rice has a lower glycemic index and higher arsenic content than, say, Lundberg rice grown in California), pearled barley, pot barley, hulled barley, cut pasta, egg noodles, lentils, quinoa (rinse it well, otherwise bitter), diced yams or potatoes. I use 1/3-1/2 cup, or for noodles and pasta, 3-4 oz. Aim for 1.5-2 servings (even though now I get 4 meals from the pot, which makes  it more low carb). Yarnell in her book uses 1 cup of rice (four servings) and gets two (not four) meals from the 2-qt dish, but she and her husband are triathletes. For non-athletes, I suggest 1/2 cup rice and also making the completed dish 4 servings, not 2, so that each serving of the completed dish includes only 1/2 serving of rice.

b. 2 Tbsp vinegar of some kind—I often use sherry vinegar, but rice vinegar, apple cider vinegar, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar are also options. Vinegar brightens the taste.

c. Aromatics – use some or all of the following, layer by layer
c1. Chopped allium (onion, shallots, leek, cippolinis, scallions, spring onions, whatever)
c2. Minced garlic (also an allium, but I always add some)
c3. Chopped celery (you can chop an entire bunch of celery, drying the stalks well before chopping, and it will keep in the fridge: the drying is important; if it’s wet, it rots)
c4. Diced carrot
c5. Diced green bell pepper
c6. Finely chopped mushrooms

d. Protein: 8 oz. cut into chunks for easy serving: boneless skinless chicken breast, thigh or leg; boneless skinless turkey; boneless pork chop; lamb; Dover sole (I just lay the fillets down without cutting into chunks) or salmon, cod, swordfish, halibut (any of which I do cut into chunks); tofu or tempeh (diced or cut into small slabs). It’s better to avoid very fatty things, like duck breast: the fat doesn’t cook off and will make a greasy meal. Still, I sometimes use linguiça or chorizo or lamb sausage, but generally a small amount (thin slices) as an accent with some other protein.

e. Seasonings: Crushed red pepper, thyme, Penzeys Mural of Flavor, Emeril’s Essence, whatever. Generally I cannot taste the seasoning, though I certainly can detect the presence of (say) crushed red pepper. You can also use condiments in this layer (or as another layer): chopped olives, capers, anchovies, sesame seeds, and so on: whatever might spark up the taste. Pickle slices? Why not? (I’ve not tried them, but now will.)

f. Veggies the rest of the way—choose what you like and give each vegetable its own layer. Frozen vegetables work fine without requiring thawing before putting in the pot. Again, to make serving easy, I chop or dice or slice the vegetables. Diced zucchini or summer squash or bitter melon; chopped or diced tomatoes; pitted olives, halved or chopped; eggplant, sliced (Japanese) or diced (Italian); chopped okra; sliced or diced mushrooms (if not used in the aromatics layer); chopped bell pepper of whatever color (ditto); corn kernels (fresh or frozen); dried cranberries; raisins or chopped prunes or dried currants; peanuts, walnuts, or pecans. As a top layer, green beans (fresh or frozen, cut into 1″ sections) or chopped greens (spinach or dandelion greens or cabbage or sliced Brussels sprouts) or chopped cauliflower. Experiment: look around the produce aisles and see what you like. Diced or thinly sliced whole organic lemons are good with fish or with greens. I’m eager to try halved kumquats.

Fill pot to the top. Greens will wilt as they cook, thus taking up less volume. The heavy lid of the Staub is an advantage.

The pour-over: Keep in mind the likely volume of liquid you’ll get from the vegetables and how much liquid the starch will absorb—yams and potatoes don’t absorb much, for example, while rice and noodles do; tomatoes, lemon, frozen vegetables may contribute a fair amount of liquid. Adjust the volume of the pour-over to complement the amount of liquid you expect. Experience will quickly teach you, and too much liquid is not really a problem since it tastes good.

I always use 2 Tbsp of vinaigrette and then add whatever strikes my fancy: soy sauce, mirin, ponzu sauce, sherry or red or white wine, Dijon mustard, gochujang sauce or other hot sauce, Worcestershire sauce, whatever. You can also add seasonings here: ground black pepper, paprika, and the like, though they tend to remain on top, so it’s often better to put them atop the protein layer. I have a small bottle that once held some food; I use that to receive the pour-over mix, which I then shake vigorously before pouring over.

Experience will polish your routine

I recommend that you make a few GOPMs. Even a little experience provides knowleddge and confidence that makes the process enjoyable. I would say that by the time you’ve made three, you’ll get the idea and find it easy and interesting. Although it’s said to be two meals, many will get at least three from a pot, sometimes four.

If you have a family, you can simply use a larger pot. I have a 3-qt Staub round cocotte, and you can also get larger sizes: a 4-qt pot could doubtless serve 4 athletes easily, and probably 8 moderately active adults and children, or 2 teenagers. 🙂

For examples to stimulate your imagination, look through the GOPM posts in this blog, most containing recipes. Measurement of starch, vinegar, and protein is always exact—of course, if I buy (say) Dover fillets, I generally do not get 8.00 oz exactly, but I am going for 8 oz and I buy as close to that as reasonable. Same for chicken, pork, etc. For tofu, I will use a 10 oz cube and figure what the hell; tempeh conveniently comes in an 8 oz package. The vegetables I simply use enough to make a layer. The vinaigrette (containing the oil) I measure exactly: 2 Tbsp.

You can also look at Elizabeth Yarnell’s own website.

Leave some of your successful GOPMs in comments: just list the layers, starting with the bottom layer, ending with the top, and describe the pour-over.

Written by Leisureguy

28 November 2012 at 9:58 am

2 Responses

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  1. An excellent description and workflow. I love GOPM’s, especially in the colder months. I find that fish works best, shrimp and seafood does very poorly because it overcooks. Chicken also does well.



    28 November 2012 at 6:08 pm

  2. Shrimp does poorly, as do scallops (and probably oysters and mussels, but haven’t tried those). Lamb, pork, etc., does fine, as does chicken, as you point out.



    28 November 2012 at 6:32 pm

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