bean soup dusted with cilantro, served with tortilla
chips on the side.
there is a month that tests the soul, itís January.
holiday bills are arriving in the mail. The caloric
over-indulgences of the season have sparked resolutions
that, in the gray light of a winter day, are difficult to
maintain. The adrenaline that kept us moving through
November and December has been spent. We are tired.
time for the one-dish dinner. Whether it is a soup or stew
that simmers on the stovetop or a casserole that bakes low
and slow in the oven, it emits aromas that perfume the house
with the promise of tasty sustenance and the need to wash
just one pot at dinnerís end.
not alone in my passion for one-pot meals. In 2014, 4.4
million Crock-Pots ó the consummate "one-pot"
ó were sold compared with 3.2 million in 2005. The study
(by the international consumer product market research firm
Euromonitor) coincided with the 75th anniversary in 2015 of
Crock-Potís invention. To boot, Food Technology magazine
reported in an April 2015 article that over a five-year
period, one-pot meals were up 29 percent nationally.
Chesman, a Vermont-based cookbook writer and editor, caught
the wave. In late 2016, she updated her 2005 book titled
"Momís Best One-Dish Suppers." The new edition,
released by Storey Publishing in September 2016, is titled
"101 One Dish Dinners, Hearty Recipes for the Dutch
Oven, Skillet & Casserole Pan."
book is well organized, written with no-fuss instructions
like "just throw (the frozen veggies) into the pasta
water" and begins each recipe with an introduction that
ranges from cultural insight to opinions about the mix of
spices in the recipe.
three recipes that follow, as a package, work on several
levels. The meals will hit wildly different palate-points.
They are healthy. And they are, when taken in a threesome,
particularly economical. Together, the cost of the
ingredients ó including spices ó was less than $100.
Note: Chesmanís recipes do not contain the usual number of
servings, but each easily serves four hungry people, and the
leftovers will stretch through most of a week.
first recipe, Quick Black Bean Soup, is indeed quick and
costs about $10 for a large pot. As is typical, the author
suggests the no-fuss way: using canned black beans so the
dish can be made at a momentís notice. With the smoky
spice of a chipotle chili and the warmth of ground cumin,
this soup is perfect for a snowy day.
second recipe features sauerkraut. Sauerkraut and January
just seem to go together. (Sauerkraut on New Yearís Day is
supposed to guarantee good luck for the new year.) Skillet
Choucroute Garni (choucroute is French for sauerkraut) would
feature, if being prepared the traditional Alsatian way,
goose fat and juniper berries, and a considerable helping of
goose meat, pork and ham. Chesmanís version goes lighter
on the calorie count, and I went even lighter, using a
"lite" version of kielbasa and ham. This meal is
delightfully tasty, easy to make and costs about $15 for a
huge skillet-full. A slice of pumpernickel bread with butter
is a perfect complement.
sold on the third recipe as soon as I saw that it involved
lamb and that the preparation was described as osso bucco-style.
Usually made of a veal shank and braised in wine and stock,
osso bucco is the definition of decadence. Using lamb, the
meal was less expensive than veal shank but just as
delicious. This dish is the most expensive of the three: The
lamb, four one-pound-plus-change shanks, cost about $30.
Considering that only about $25 was spent on the other two
meals, it seemed an acceptable splurge.
BLACK BEAN SOUP
this recipe, I took every short cut possible, including
jarred minced garlic and canned minced chipotle chilies in
adobo sauce and, instead of using my blender to mash a
portion of the beans, I used my immersion blender after I
poured the first can of black beans into the soup. This dish
came together literally in about 15 minutes and got better
by the time I pulled it from the fridge for a second
go-round. I put a bowl of tortilla chips on the table and
crumbled some into the bowl.
chipotle chili (I used half of a small can of minced
chipotle in adobo sauce)
boiling water (I just used hot water from the tap)
garlic cloves (I used already jarred minced garlic)
(19 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained (my cans
were 12 ounces each so I used 4)
tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
green chili, seeded and diced (optional) (I used a small can
of already diced green chilies)
1.5 teaspoons ground cumin (I used 1.5 teaspoons)
(28 ounces) diced tomatoes with juice
and freshly ground pepper
cup chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish if desired
the chipotle and water in a blender. Let soak for 15
the garlic and one-third of the beans to blender. Process
until pureed. (I used my immersion blender on the stovetop.)
the oil over medium-high heat in a large soup pot. Saute the
onion, bell pepper, fresh chili if using, and cumin in the
oil until the vegetables are limp, 3 to 4 minutes. (I added
these items to the pureed bean mixture that already was in
my soup pot.) Add the tomatoes, the remaining beans and the
pureed mixture (if youíre following the blender method).
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil,
reduce the heat, and simmer for 15 minutes to blend the
flavors. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding more salt,
pepper, and cumin, if desired.
hot, garnishing each bowl with a little cilantro.
peppercorns in this dish should not be replaced by ground
black pepper. When one of the peppercorns lands in your
mouth, itís like a little gift. The bay leaf added a depth
of flavor and aroma that canít be overstated.
pounds red potatoes, sliced 11/2 inches thick
tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
pound smoked turkey or pork sausage, such as kielbasa,
sliced (I used a "lite" kielbassa)
onion, thinly sliced
chicken broth (you can make homemade or use store-bought. I
pounds sauerkraut, drained and rinsed
pound smoked ham or turkey breast, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
(I used ham)
carrots, sliced 1/2-inch thick
the potatoes with salted water in a medium saucepan and
bring to a boil. Let boil for 1 minute, then drain. (I
boiled my potatoes in the skillet that I used for the next
step so that I could really make this a one-dish delight.)
the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the
sausage and onion in the oil until the sausage is browned,
about 8 minutes. Add the broth, sauerkraut, ham, carrots,
bay leaves, peppercorns and potatoes. Bring to a boil,
reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 20 minutes until the
carrots and potatoes are tender. Remove the bay leaves and
let stand for about 5 minutes before serving.
LAMB SHANKS WITH VEGETABLES
dish is guest-worthy. Hearty and rich, what a meal to serve
friends in mid-winter. I presented the pot with a platter of
bruschetta, topped by roasted red peppers, roasted tomatoes,
and goat-cheese mozzarella.
pound white pearl or boiling onions (I used frozen pearl
shanks, 3/4 to 1 pound each
and freshly ground black pepper
beef or chicken broth (homemade or store-bought. I used
store-bought beef broth.)
cup white or red wine (I used white.)
(28 ounces) diced tomatoes with juice
tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
garlic cloves (I used jarred minced garlic)
pounds new potatoes, quartered or cut into eighths (I used
carrots, sliced 1/2-inch thick
the onions with boiling water and set aside to cool. This
will make the onions easy to peel. (I skipped this step
because I bought frozen pearl onions.)
the oven to 275 degrees. Set out a large roasting pan.
a dry skillet over high heat. Place the lamb shanks in the
skillet, sprinkle with salt and pepper and brown on all
sides, about 5 minutes per side. Transfer the lamb to the
roasting pan. (Again, in my determination to use only one
dish for each of these one-dish meals, I used the insert to
my All-Clad slow-cooker, which allows for stovetop browning
as well as in-oven baking.)
the broth and wine into the skillet and bring to a boil,
stirring to scrape up any browned bits. (I simply set the
shanks on a plate and commenced with this process in my
All-Clad roaster.) Pour the liquid into the roasting pan.
Add the tomatoes, rosemary, thyme, garlic, and bay leaves.
the onions. (I didnít need to because I bought frozen
peeled pearl onions.) Add to the roasting pan, along with
the potatoes and carrots. Mix gently. Season to taste with
salt and pepper. Tightly cover the pan with foil.
for about 2 hours until the meat is almost falling off the
bone. Remove the bay leaves and serve. (Please note: I found
that after 2 hours, the meat was not about to fall from the
bone. I tested after 3 hours, and it was perfect.)