For my husband and I, frying pan meals have come into their own over the last two months. We have been waiting to shift into a new house. After initially staying with kind friends, we rented a tiny apartment with extremely limited cooking facilities. But it did have an excellent frying pan. And I just love whipping up one-pan meals. They’re so easy.
This pan had a very heavy base so it distributed the heat evenly. It was non-stick which meant I didn’t have to use oil in much of my cooking. The pan was a good size providing enough room for cooking breaded schnitzels to keep the coating crisp instead of going soggy. And it was large enough to cook an entire meal for four servings.
If you do need to use cooking oil, choose one with a high smoke point so it doesn’t seep into the food. I prefer canola or sunflower as they are affordable and have a mild taste. However, if you want more flavour try grapeseed or avocado oil. Heat the oil until a faint haze rises. To test for the correct temperature, add a cube of day-old bread to the heated oil. Cook for about one minute until it turns golden and crisp — then the temperature is right for frying.
FUSILLI WITH SAUSAGE & MOZZARELLA
Because the sausages contain a little fat, there is no need to use oil for frying.
500g Italian-style, fresh sausages
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1/4 teaspoon chilli flakes or to taste
2 x 400g cans diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato paste
2 cups dried fusilli (spiral) pasta
3 cups water
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons sour cream or cream
75g fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
Heat a non-stick frying pan on medium. Squeeze out the meat of one sausage into the pan making 5 small balls. Repeat with the remaining sausages. Stir-fry until the sausage balls are browned all over. Stir in the garlic and chilli flakes and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Season with salt and pepper, if preferred.
Stir in the tomatoes and tomato paste. Simmer for 5-7 minutes. Stir in the fusilli and water. Bring to the boil. Cover and simmer gently until the pasta is cooked, about 15 minutes.
Remove from heat. Stir in the parmesan and sour cream. Top with the mozzarella. Cover until the cheese has melted, about 2 minutes.
Great garnished with fresh herbs and a little paprika and served with a crisp salad on the side. Serves 4.
MOROCCAN CHICKEN WITH LEMON COUSCOUS
For the best flavour, use the full two tablespoons of grated lemon rind.
4 large skinned and boned chicken thighs
1 tablespoon Moroccan seasoning
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
3 cups chicken stock
300g pumpkin, peeled and seeded
1 red onion, diced
1 cup each: frozen peas, couscous
2 tablespoons finely grated lemon rind
Trim any fat from the chicken and pat dry. Rub the Moroccan seasoning all over the chicken.
Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large frying pan on medium. Cook the chicken for 5 minutes on each side, until brown. Add a 1/2 cup of the stock. Cover and cook for 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked.
Meanwhile, cut the pumpkin into 2cm cubes.
Remove the chicken to a plate and keep warm. Add the cooking liquid to the stock.
Heat the remaining oil in the same pan on medium. Cook the pumpkin and onion for 5 minutes, or until softened and starting to colour. Add the stock mixture and peas. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, until tender.
Stir in the couscous. Remove from the heat and cover. Stand for 5 minutes. Add the lemon zest and fluff up with a fork. Top with the chicken. Serves 4.
SMOKED CHICKEN FRYING PAN PIZZAS
I love these ‘cos they’re so quick to prepare. Toppings are limited only by one’s imagination.
1 tablespoon canola oil
4 small garlic pita breads or similar
4 tablespoons tomato chutney
1/2 cup grated tasty cheese
150g smoked chicken, sliced
1 cup mixed baby salad leaves
2 tablespoons each: basil pesto, lemon juice.
Heat the oil in a non-stick frying pan on medium heat. Cook the pitas for about 1 minute, until hot. Flip them over.
Top with the chutney, cheese and chicken. Cover and heat through on medium for 1-2 minutes.
Remove and lightly pile with the salad greens. Drizzle with a little of the combined pesto and lemon juice. Serves 2 as a main.