Soul-satisfying meals from a single pot
Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2007 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 17, 2007 at 12:00 a.m.
One-pot meals — from the tasty tagines of Morocco and paellas of Spain to the spicy stir-fries of China and curries of India — have long nourished the families of the world.
Efficient, economical and soul-satisfying, one-pot dishes bring back memories of grandma's cooking, filling the home with steamy warmth and fragrant aromas.
"We all realize that one-pot cooking is a natural and loving way of preparing food," Jesse Ziff Cool writes in her book, "The Really, Truly, Honest-to-Goodness One-Pot Cookbook" (Chronicle Books, $19.95). "Who can resist a mouthwatering seafood stew, a cut-with-a-spoon braised lamb shank, or fall-off-the-bone ribs?"
One-pot dishes — the kind cooked in clay pots, cast-iron skillets, Dutch ovens or slow cookers — can also save busy cooks time at the stove. After you assemble the recipe, you can leave the pot on the stove and tend to other chores.
That's one reason Cool, who owns several restaurants, decided to write about one-pot cooking.
"I know how difficult it is to walk through the front door after a long day of work and prepare a meal from scratch," she writes.
Short ribs with steamed seasonal vegetables is an ideal, one-pot dish. The beef short ribs are slow cooked for several hours, while the vegetables are steamed at the very end, in a basket above the beef.
Moroccan chicken with couscous was inspired by a trip to Morocco, where Cool learned about the exotic spices and clay cooking vessels of North Africa.
Pork osso buco with Swiss chard makes for a perfect winter meal, with warming spices like the garam masala blending with winter vegetables like carrots and fennel.
Cool points out that you don't need fancy equipment for one-pot cooking: a few good, heavy pots with lids will do. She suggests using an 8-quart pasta pot or Dutch oven, or a heavy, 12-inch skillet.
In general, Cool abides by two rules:
· Brown the meat, poultry or fish first, to bring out its flavor.
· Add ingredients in the order of their cooking time, with sturdy vegetables first and more delicate vegetables later on.
Alongside Cool's cookbook, this year's crop of one-pot cookbooks includes Lynn Alley's "The Gourmet Slow Cooker, Volume II" (Ten Speed Press, $18.95) a compedium of regional comfort-food classics.
Like the first volume, Alley's new book offers dishes that are a cut above usual "crockpot" recipes, from an authentic Green Posole of the Southwest to Bacalhau, the salt cod stew brought to the Americas by Portuguese immigrants from the Azores.
Her recipes for Korean-Style Ribs, Basque Lamb Shank and White Bean Chili take advantage of the crockpot's low, slow heat, and its ability to tenderize meat while cooking dried beans to perfection.
"One Dish Meals" from the Culinary Institute of America (Lebhar-Friedman Books, $35), features flavors from around the world in more than 150 recipes.
With step-by-step photographs and kitchen-tested recipes, the cookbook takes off to Japan with Udon noodle pot, to Spain with Catalan beef stew and to Mexico with chicken mole.
American comfort dishes like Macaroni and Cheese, Chicken Pot Pie and Neopolitan-Style Pizza round out the global offerings.
Slow-Cooked Chicken in a Pot
3 1/2 pound chicken, organic and free-range
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 lemon, quartered
3 rosemary sprigs
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, optional
1 onion, coarsely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and coarsely chopped
1 to 2 stalks celery, cut into 1-inch slices
12 ounces potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 bay leaf
5 black peppercorns, crushed
10 fresh, flat-leaf Italian parsley sprigs
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons mined fresh oregano
1 tomato, chopped
Rinse the chicken under cold running water and pat dry with paper towels. Using a sharp knife, trim off excess fat.
Generously season the chicken inside and out with salt and pepper. Put the lemon pieces and the rosemary inside the cavity of the chicken. Tie the legs together. At this time, if you choose to, heat the oil over medium-high heat and brown the chicken on all sides, about 7 to 10 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a platter.
In a large, heavy pot, combine the onion, carrots, celery, potatoes, bay leaf, peppercorns and parsley sprigs. Pour the broth over the vegetables and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Place the chicken on top of the vegetables. Bring the liquid to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for about 1 hours, or until the meat nearly falls off the bone. While cooking, baste the chicken occasionally with the juices. Halfway through cooking, add the basil, oregano and tomato.
When the chicken is done, using two large forks or tongs, transfer it to a cutting board and either cut into serving size pieces or carve as you would a turkey. Transfer to a platter using a slotted spoon, remove the vegetables, and arrange them on the platter next to the chicken.
Increase the heat to high and reduce the juices until you have about 1 cup to use as an au jus sauce. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Pour the juices through a sieve over the chicken and vegetables and serve.
Makes 4 to 6 servings.
This recipe is basic and Italian-style, but you can add your favorite fresh herbs, veggies or spices to personalize it. Instead of the basil, oregano and tomato:
· ASIAN: 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger, 3 tablespoons soy sauce, 2 cloves minced garlic.
· MEXICAN:1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro, 1 tablespoon ground cumin, 2 cloves minced garlic, 1 jalapeno chili, finely chopped.
· BARBECUE: 1/4 cup packed brown sugar, 2 tablespoons vinegar, 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon dried chipotle powder.
— Jesse Ziff Cool
3 pounds pork or beef ribs, trimmed of excess fat
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 cup freshly squeezed orange or tangerine juice
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 tablespoon finely minced or grated fresh peeled ginger
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar or honey
3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
2 green onions, green parts only, thinly sliced, for garnish
Place a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the ribs and cook, turning for 15 to 20 minutes, until browned on all sides. Transfer the ribs to the slow cooker.
In a bowl, combine the soy sauce, orange juice, vinegar, ginger, garlic, sesame oil and brown sugar and mix well. Pour the sauce over the ribs. Cover and cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, until the meat is very tender.
To serve, arrange the ribs on plates or a serving platter and spoon the sauce on top. Garnish with the sesame seeds and green onions and serve at once.
Makes 4 servings.
— Lynn Alley
Catalan Beef Stew with Orange Peel and Black Olives
1 tablespoon olive oil
5 slices bacon, thick-cut, diced
2 pound boneless beef chuck or bottom round, cut into 2-inch pieces
Salt as needed
Freshly ground black pepper, as needed
2 cups chopped yellow onion
2 cups red wine
2 tablespoons orange peel julienne
2 bay leaves
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 parsley sprigs, minced
1 cup Spanish black olives, pitted
Heat the oil in a casserole or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and saute until crisp and browned, 5 minutes. Transfer the bacon to a bowl with a slotted spoon, letting the oil drain back into the casserole.
Return the casserole to the heat and heat the oil. Season the beef generously with salt and pepper. Working in batches to avoid crowding the pan, add the beef and sear on all sides until brown, about 8 minutes.
Transfer the beef to the bowl with the bacon using a slotted spoon, letting the oil drain back into the casserole. Add the onion to the casserole and saute, stirring occasionally, until deeply caramelized, 25 to 30 minutes.
Return the beef and bacon to the casserole, add the red wine, orange peel, bay leaves, garlic and parsley; bring the liquid to a boil. Immediately adjust the heat for a gentle simmer. Season the stew to taste with salt and pepper throughout cooking time. Simmer the stew, covered until the beef is nearly tender, about 2 hours. Add the olives and continue to simmer until the beef is fork tender, 1 to 1 hours. Serve in heated bowls.
Makes 4 servings.
Tip: Cut a piece of cooking parchment that will fit snugly inside your casserole or Dutch oven. Once the stew is simmering very slowly, carefully push the paper down onto the surface of the stew to keep the meat completely submerged.
— From the Culinary Institute of America's "One Dish Meals."
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