First Glorious One-Pot Meal in quite a while
I was making Glorious One-Pot Meals (GOPM) quite regularly for a while, but what with one thing and another got out of the habit, although I do like them a lot. For no particular reason other than recipe fatigue, it occurred to me to get back into it because they are extremely easy to improvise once you get the pattern down.
Glorious one-pot meals are built in a 2-quart cast-iron pot, and my favorite is the Staub 2.25-quart round cocotte though the Texsport 2-quart cast-iron Dutch oven works well and is much less costly (around $22, if you can find it). (The Staub runs $190, but I bought it when it was being introduced and got mine for $100.) Elizabeth’s Yarnell’s book calls for a 2-quart Dutch oven (and for some reason she likes Le Creuset, but I find the Staub, which costs less, much better in several ways), but it turns out that 2.25 quarts is a convenient size. (Staub 2.25 quart round cocottes are somewhat hard to find: they seem to have moved to one a pint larger, 2.75 quart. I prefer the 2.25 quart, but the other will work.)
Some people who hear “one-pot meal” think of using a slow cooker, but GOPM is pretty much the opposite: instead of cooking a long time at low heat (typically 8-12 hours at 200ºF), GOPM is cooked for a short time (45 minute + 15 minute rest) at high heat (450ºF). Thus meats that require long slow cooking for tenderness (e.g., oxtails, short-ribs, shanks) would not be suitable in a GOPM.
The ingredients are layered in the pot: reading from the first (bottom) layer up, a typical dish will have:
- aromatics (onion, spring onion, green garlic, celery, leeks, shallots, carrots, whatever)
- starch (rice, barley, quinoa, egg noodles, cut pasta, tiny potatoes, whatever)
- protein (marinated tempeh, chicken, fish, beef, lamb, pork, whatever)
After layering the ingredients, about 4-6 Tbsp of liquid is poured over the contents—the “pour-over.” Then the pot is covered and put into a 450ºF oven for 45 minutes, whereupon it is removed to sit for 15 minutes, and—voilà!—dinner for two.
In her book Yarnell provides a variety of recipes, which are helpful in getting the idea, but the recipes themselves are almost unbearably bland—plus for some reason she always puts in enough rice for 4 servings, not 2: she uses 1 cup of uncooked rice, and one serving is 1/4 cup uncooked rice, so she should use 1/2 cup. I asked why, and it turned out to be simple ignorance on her part. (She is extremely active, so probably burned up the extra carbs without noticing it.) I tend to use 1/3 c rice (or barley) in the pot: a little less than 2 servings, but I follow a low-carb diet.
The meals have always been extremely tasty and they are quite easy (and rather fun) to prepare: you layer the foods, pour over the liquid, and an hour later dinner’s ready.
Here’s the one I made tonight that’s in the oven now. I first rub the interior of the pot (including the bottom of the lid) with olive oil before I begin. The layers, from the first (bottom) layer up:
3 large chopped scallions
2 ribs celery with quite a few leaves, chopped
1/3 c pearled barley
0.67 lb lamb stew meat (actually, little lamb flank steaks that I cut into squares)
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c chopped mint
1 medium yellow crookneck squash, diced
4 good slices eggplant (plan was 1 Japanese eggplant, but store didn’t have)
12-15 pitted Kalamata olives, halved
5 oz crumbled feta cheese
3 Roma tomatoes, diced
1 lemon, ends cut off and discarded, then the lemon diced
2 Tbsp Crosse & Blackwell mint sauce [update: next time use 1 Tbsp]
2 Tbsp Bragg’s vinaigrette salad dressing (Sesame & Ginger, in this case)
1 Tbsp red wine [update: next time skip this]
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tsp Dijon mustard
I put all that in a little jar, shook it well, and poured it over the top. I might have added smoked paprika if I had thought of it.
I am looking forward to this. I do have more than half an eggplant left over, so I’ll probably make another meal using the rest of the eggplant.
I totally made up this recipe, just thinking of a general lamb/Mediterranean theme.
BTW, in an earlier post you can find Yarnell’s patent for her method.
UPDATE: Extremely tasty. A little more liquid than I like, but very little. I would leave out the 1 Tbsp red wine in the pour-over next time, and perhaps use just 1 Tbsp mint sauce.