Tuesday, April 28, 2009

One-pot Meals

Well, Jeffrey asked a very good question about one-pot meals to avoid washing lots of dishes at the end of the night and I can't blame him. Dan and I are notorious for making the biggest mess possible in the kitchen - we're never quite sure how it happens. And I will admit that doing the abbreviated mise en place I am so very fond is definitely going to accumulate more dishes and gadgets to clean once your delicious meal is in your tummy. I know Joe would love for me to make more one pot meals, as he is the designated dish washer at our house.

The thing is, a lot of "one pot meal" recipes that I've tried seem to be big fat lies. They'll seem like they're one pot meals and then it will say "serve with pasta." Well, where the hell did that pasta come from I'd like to know? Another POT perhaps? Besides the fact that you usually need to chop up a lot of stuff to make your meal, and then shouldn't the cutting board and knife be washed? I mean, I suppose you could cut your veggies and meat and whatnot in your pan, but I wouldn't recommend it - you'll ruin your pan and the gashes you create will never get clean, food will get stuck in there and then bacteria will form. It's not fun.

But, Jeffrey, I will give you some tips that may help you eliminate the amount of pots and utensils you use.

Tip 1: When you are already making a meal (and I'm assuming you're planning your meals ahead of time) and you have your cutting board out and you're chopping away, go ahead and chop some of the veggies for other meals in the week. Cut veggies will usually only last about a week in the fridge because they've been exposed to the air, but that's just enough to plan ahead. For example, last night the meal I was preparing called for two chopped up bell peppers, so I figured, while that's cooking and I already have the cutting board and knives out, I might as well cut up an onion for my Chicken Picatta later in the week. That will make things go so much smoother on a work night. I have kept a sliced onion in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for an entire week, with no noticable defects, and I was a lot happier for it. If your tupperware is dishwasher safe, you just dump the onion into your dish when you need them and you're finished! If not, a plastic bag will also work.

One vegetable that canNOT be cut up and put in the refrigerator is the potato. Once the inside of the potato is exposed to oxygen, it starts to turn pink and will spoil very quickly. You can, however, purchase already cut frozen potatoes in the grocery store. I don't know how they do it, but I can't seem to do it at home. Apples can be cut up and put into the refrigerator with just a spash of lemon juice to stop the oxidation. This can also be done with avocados.

But just try it yourself! You may find one or two veggies that it just doesn't work out for but I know onions are my worst time-suck when I'm cooking and this realization that they can be cut up and stored has saved me lots of time.

Tip 2: Think through the dish you're making and figure out which ones can be made in dishwasher safe plates or bowls. For instance, Joe doesn't see much difference in heating up frozen vegetables in the microwave instead of on the stovetop, therefore I make his green beans and other vegetables in a cereal bowl in the microwave with a little water and into the dishwasher it goes at the end of the night.

Tip 3: Anytime you roast something in your oven (or toaster oven), cover your roasting pan or baking sheet with aluminum foil. When the roasting is done, just toss the foil and put that pan back into the cabinet.

Tip 4: Just think ahead. A little bit of planning will go along way. Do you need both a spoon and a pair of tongs for this recipe or could you use your tongs to stir your sauce as well as flip your steak?

It's possible to make some meals in only one pot (I'll saute the vegetables, take them out and put them on a dishwasher-safe plate while I saute the chicken in the same pot) but this will take more time. Time cooking versus time cleaning up, really - you decide.

There is, however, a magical appliance that seems to make one-pot meals a reality. It's called the slow cooker and many of your have asked me about it but, alas, although I own one, I haven't used it yet! And I don't know anything about it... good thing I have a cousin and fellow-blogger who is a slow-cooker GURU! So tune in soon for Kevin's love song to the slow cooker.


  1. I love your blog. It teaches me how to be an adult. :)

  2. I do love the lack of pots in the recent cooking! Thanks, Sweetie! Love you! Great post once again!

  3. I just made this one-pot meal and it was really great! Just thought I would share so others could try it!

    I did make a few adjustments to the meal as it reads on allrecipes; for a 2 serving portion:
    salt/peppered the beef while cooking.
    To the mixture added:
    1 clove of garlic
    approx 2 Tablespoons of Italian Bread Crumbs.

    - Marissa