Who needs the hassle of multiple cooking methods for a weekday meal? Who needs four pots to clean after dinner? Who needs 25 ingredients in Monday’s meatless dish? Well, not many of us.
Granted the four-pot scenario may have its place for those entertainment dinners where you want to dress (up your meals) to impress.
But talking to my friends it seems we all want ‘simple’ during the week. We also want variety in our meals — not mince five nights in a row even if it is presented as bolognese, chilli, meatloaf, burgers and meatballs.
This one-pan regime is not new. It started in caveman days when a large joint of game was thrown in to a large pot with various leaves, herbs and possibly a root vegetable or two. It was slow-cooked over a fire. How simple is that? It was the prototype slow-cooker.
Checking out ethnic recipes helps to vary the weekday menu. Many Asian and European dishes can be prepared in one pan. A traditional roast chicken cooked in an electric frypan is tastier if root veg and greens such as Brussels sprouts, capsicums and asparagus are added.
And now that the school holidays are here, why not encourage the kids into the kitchen to make cooking even easier for you.
TANDOORI CHICKEN TRAY BAKE
No need for rice — potatoes are cooked in the same pan.
500g skinned and boned chicken thighs
3 tablespoons tandoori paste
2 tablespoons yoghurt
2 onions, quartered
2 large potatoes peeled, cut into 8 wedges
1 red capsicum, seeded and cubed
100g feta cheese, diced or crumbled
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Lightly oil a large roasting dish.
Trim the chicken if required. Using a rolling pin, flatten the thick pieces so the chicken is even.
Combine the tandoori paste and yoghurt in a large bowl. Add the chicken, onions and potato wedges and mix until uniformly covered. Spread the mixture evenly in the roasting pan.
Roast for 30 minutes turning halfway through. Add the capsicum and feta cheese and cook for a further 10 minutes. Serves 4.
MEXICAN PORK POT ROAST
Serve in warmed tacos or burrito wraps. This dish can also be cooked in a slow cooker for 5-6 hours.
1.5kg pork shoulder
35g packet burrito seasoning or similar
2 onions, quartered
4 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 cup chicken stock or water
1 each: red and green capsicum, chilli, seeded and sliced
Preheat the oven to 160°C.
Rub the pork well with the burrito seasoning. Place in a large casserole or baking dish with the onions, lemon juice and chicken stock. Sprinkle with any remaining seasoning. Cover tightly and cook for 3 hours.
Uncover and add the capsicums and chilli. Continue cooking — uncovered — for 30 minutes, until the pork pulls easily from the bone.
To serve, shred the pork and serve in taco shells or burrito wraps with the onion, capsicum and chilli. Serves 6.
The name ‘rarebit’ originated in Wales. A cheese sauce was poured over toast, which was grilled or baked.
Tip: Potatoes can be baked at the same time as the chicken. Place in the oven 10 minutes before the chicken.
4 large skinned and boned chicken breasts
1 1/4 cups shredded tasty cheese
2 tablespoons wholegrain mustard
3 tablespoons milk
8 cherry tomatoes
Preheat the oven to 200°C. Lightly oil a shallow baking pan just large enough to hold the chicken.
Cut the chicken breasts in half lengthwise. Using a rolling pin, flatten the thick ends to make the breasts even. Place the chicken in the pan.
Combine the cheese, mustard and milk. Dollop on top of each piece of chicken.
Bake for 10 minutes. Add the cherry tomatoes and continue baking for 10 minutes, until the chicken is just cooked.
Great served with a crisp green salad. Serves 4.