Glorious One-Pot Meals


Food with few dishes

Elizabeth Yarnell has developed an easy, tasty, and fast method of one-pot cooking she calls “infusion cooking.” More or less, it’s the opposite of slow-cooker cooking. The ingredients are layered in a two-quart cast-iron Dutch oven, which is covered and placed in a 450F oven for 45 minutes. I’ve found that I can assemble one of Yarnell’s meals in the time it takes the oven to heat. That makes two servings: one for a couple or, in my case, one for lunch and dinner. Although the recipes in Glorious One-Pot Meals need a bit of spicing up, after making a couple, you get the idea and improvisation is easy.

Yarnell recommends an enameled cast-iron Dutch oven. Although it’s not enameled, I’ve found the Texsport two-quart Dutch oven ($25 at Amazon) to be my favorite. It’s pre-seasoned and easy to clean and use. Most of the two-quart Dutch ovens are squat and short. The Texsport is narrower and taller, which seems to work best for this method of cooking (I’ve tried several different ovens). Plus, when it’s filled to the brim, the Texsport is actually 2.5 quarts. The extra room is useful if you’re including leafy greens. If you have your heart set on using an enameled pot, I recommend the Staub 2.25-quart round cocotte ($100 at Amazon) instead of the Le Creuset dutch oven ($185), because the Staub is higher quality and better made.

-- Michael Ham 03/8/11


To give you an idea, here's a recipe I came up with, layer by layer, starting with the bottom and moving up:

1/4 large onion, chopped coarsely
1/2 c uncooked converted rice (this makes 2 servings: for some reason in the book Yarnell consistently cooks a full cup---4 servings---of rice: too much for me)
2 Tbsp vinegar over the rice (sherry, rice, balsamic, Chinese black, whatever)
8 oz protein (I've successfully used lamb, chicken breast, tempeh, and a variety of fish---I cut the protein into bite-size pieces)
salt, pepper, crushed red pepper (just a little to provide some body), perhaps some herbs---with fish I usually squeeze half a lime over them and add some capers to this layer
4 mushrooms, sliced
1/2 bell pepper (green, red, or yellow), cut into squares
1 yellow crookneck squash, coarsely chopped
1/2 bulb fennel, cored and sliced

Fill the remaining space with your choice of: green beans, broccoli, red chard, spinach, or any other leafy greens.

2 Tbsp Bragg's vinaigrette
2 Tbsp sherry
1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce (I use homemade)
1 tsp Dijon mustard

Whisk together in a small bowl, then pour over the top.

Cover and cook for 45 minutes in 450F oven. Serves two.

You will discover through experience the amount of liquid you'll need with different vegetables. With bok choy, for example, no additional liquid is needed. For the starch layer, I've also used: baby potatoes, quinoa, egg noodles, pasta, and the like. This method is terrific and generally will up your vegetable consumption without raising calories.