One-pot wonders: dinner recipes for cold winter nights

Date:23-01-2014 08:58:21 read:2

One-pot wonders: dinner recipes for cold winter nights

One-pot meals are delicious, easy and - crucially - low on the washing-up afterwards. Lindsey Bareham, author of a new book on one-pots, shares three of her favourites

Flexible: this fish pie recipe is 'as good for one as it is for a dinner party' 

Cinty’s French Fish Pie

Cinty, pronounced Kinty, is the sister of a friend and this is her foolproof recipe. It’s as good for one as it is for a dinner party. It’s easy to scale up or down. You want plenty of leeks – which are stewed in butter with white wine – then a fillet of white fish per person. I prefer haddock loin but cod, carefully boned hake, brill or lemon sole are good alternatives. The fish is laid over the top of a thick layer of leeks, then covered with a generous layer of full-fat crème fraîche. My contribution is a gratin topping of fine fresh breadcrumbs and finely grated Parmesan to give crunch to every mouthful. It could be made with fennel instead of leeks.

Sometimes when I have plenty of time I salt the fish first. This has the advantage of firming it up, seasoning it and drawing out some of the liquid. For 4 fillets you will need about a tablespoon of coarse Maldon sea salt. Leave them for 20 minutes, then rinse and pat them dry.

Serves 4

Prep: 15 minutes

Cook: 40 minutes

1kg trimmed leeks

40g butter

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 fillets of skinned haddock loin

150ml dry white wine

300ml full-fat crème fraîche

50g fine white breadcrumbs without crust

2–3 tablespoons finely grated Parmesan

Halve the leeks lengthways, hold the pieces together and finely slice them into half-moons. Soak them in cold water to loosen any grit, then drain. Heat the oven to 200˚C/gas mark 6. Melt the butter in an ovenproof pan to fit the fish fillets snugly, stir in the leeks, season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, cover and cook for 5-10 minutes until they are soft.

Add the wine and simmer briskly until the leeks are juicy but not wet. Pat the fish dry and lay it over the leeks. Spread the crème fraîche over the top to cover the fish, then dredge with the breadcrumbs mixed with the Parmesan. Bake for 30 minutes or until the crust is crisp and golden and the fish cooked through.

Steak and Mushroom Cobbler Pie

A cobbler, in the culinary sense, is a rough-and-ready pie, or pastry crust. It’s thought to date back to early American settlers who had to improvise with ingredients as well as cooking implements, pots and pans. Fruit cobblers are covered with a light, soft scone mix, but the rich flavour and dense texture of suet pastry suits meaty pies like this. Skirt steak, incidentally, is extremely lean with a texture that cooks up like loose corduroy. It is very good value and usually sold in one piece. The flavour will be vastly improved if the pie filling is cooked 24 hours in advance, then reheated from cold when the crust is added for the final cooking.

Serves 6

Prep: 45 minutes

Cook: 3 hours

2 onions (300g)

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

A knob of butter

1 bay leaf

2-3 sticks of celery (125g)

2 carrots (150g)

Dalt and freshly ground black pepper

1 kg skirt steak or stewing steak

Flour for dusting

A few sprigs of thyme

200ml red wine

250g chestnut mushrooms

400ml chicken stock

2 tablespoons chopped parsley

For the crust:

1 beaten egg

2 tablespoons cold water

200g self-raising flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

100g packet of prepared suet

1 teaspoon finely chopped thyme

1 tablespoon milk

2 tablespoons finely chopped flat-leaf parsley

Heat the oven to 150˚C/gas mark 2. Peel, halve and slice one onion; peel, halve and chop the other. Heat the oil and butter in a spacious Le Creuset-style lidded pan and gently soften the onion with the bay leaf. Peel and dice the celery and carrot into dolly-mixture-size pieces and stir them into the onion. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then cover and cook for 5 minutes.

Dice the steak into large kebab-size pieces. Dust with flour. Scoop the onions into a sieve over the pan so that the oil drains back. Increase the heat slightly and brown the steak in batches, removing it to a plate. Return the onions and steak to the pan, then mix thoroughly while adding the thyme and the wine. Stir to loosen the flour as it bubbles, then put in the wiped, halved mushrooms and the stock. It will seem a terrible squash but the mushrooms will soon flop. Bring to the boil, stirring, then turn off the heat. Cut a piece of baking parchment to cover the pan, letting it sag to touch the food. Hold it secure with the lid and trim off the excess. Put the pan into the oven and bake for 2 hours. Take it out, let it cool, then chill overnight.

Heat the oven to 220˚C/gas mark 7. To make the crust, whisk together half of the beaten egg with the water. Sift the flour into a bowl, then mix in the baking powder, suet, a pinch of salt and the herbs. Gradually add the egg mixture and work it with the flour into a stiff but elastic dough; you may need a little more water. Chill in a plastic bag until required. Pat or roll the pastry to make a thick lid or, if simpler, into 6 patties. Place the lid over the steak. Glaze it with the remaining egg, beaten with the milk. Make a central air hole. Bake, uncovered, for 25 to 30 minutes or until the crust is puffy and golden. Serve with a sprinkling of parsley.

Braised Chicken, Toulouse Sausages and White Beans

This hearty casserole is inspired by cassoulet, the garlicky bean stew from south-west France traditionally made with various fresh and preserved meats. In this baked version, chicken thighs and meaty Toulouse sausages are cooked in an aromatic red wine, tomato and onion gravy with creamy haricot beans. It goes down well whatever the weather.

Serves 4

Prep: 30 minutes

Cook: 90 minutes

6 rashers of smoked streaky bacon

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

6 Toulouse sausages

3 tablespoons olive oil

2 red onions (300g)

1 sprig of rosemary

3 sprigs of thyme

1 bay leaf

2 cloves of garlic

8 free-range chicken thigh fillets

2 tablespoons flour

150ml red wine

300ml chicken stock

400g tin of chopped tomatoes

2 x 400g tins of haricot or butter beans

A squeeze of lemon juice

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

25g flat-leaf parsley

Heat the oven to 170˚C/gas mark 3. Slice the bacon into batons. Heat the vegetable oil in a spacious lidded heat- and ovenproof casserole dish over a medium heat. Brown the sausages thoroughly and remove them to a mixing bowl. Wipe out the pan, add a tablespoon of the olive oil and fry the bacon crisp while you peel, halve and slice the onions into half-moons. Tie the herbs together with string. Peel and chop the garlic. Add the onions to the bacon with the herbs. Stir occasionally and cook for about 15 minutes until the onions turn sloppy. Add the garlic, cook for a couple of minutes then tip the contents of the pan over the sausages.

Dust the chicken with the flour. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the pan and brown the chicken in batches. Return all the chicken to the pan, then pour in the wine, stirring so that the flour thickens the juices. Let it bubble for a couple of minutes, then add the stock, sausages and onion and simmer, giving the odd stir, for 5 minutes.

Put in the tomatoes, beans, lemon juice, and season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Simmer for a further 5 minutes, give a final stir and remove from the heat. Carefully drape a sheet of baking parchment over the top letting it rest on the food. Catch the edges of the paper with the lid. Cook on a middle shelf in the oven for 60 minutes.

Stir well, taste the juices and adjust the seasoning. Chop the parsley, stir it in and serve.

Recipes extracted from 'One Pot Wonders' by Lindsey Bareham (Penguin, £18.99 HB)

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