There is nothing more comforting on a cold winter day than a hot and filling meal. Cooking main dish and vegetables in one pot saves you time, fuel, washing up and fuss. Stews and casseroles are the one-pot dishes that most cooks know, however, stew is not the be all and end all of one-pot dishes, and there are so many imaginative meals that you can cook using the one-pot method. Filling one-pot meals do not even have to be calorie laden; some recipes make meals that are less than 400 calories per person.
Slow cookers are excellent for cooking one-pot meals and save fuel. They also have the advantage that once you prepare the food you can leave it to cook quite safely. Using a slow cooker is an ideal way to cook when you are very busy, for example, during the run up to Christmas. You can be busy and still serve the family a nourishing, warming and filling meal.
Here is one recipe filling enough for the coldest winter day
A little butter and a little flavourless oil
2lb plain sausages, that is without herbs
1 small or ½ large onion finely chopped
Small can plum tomatoes
1tsp tomato puree
can baked beans (15oz)
Tsp dried thyme or equivalent fresh thyme
Salt and pepper
2 tsp cornflour or cornstarch to thicken
Worcester sauce or a little Tabasco to taste
Heat butter and oil in a frying pan or skillet pan and quickly brown the sausages. Drain the fat from the sausages and place them in a slow cooker with the other ingredients. Cook on high setting for between 2 and 3 hours or 4-6 hours on the low setting. 30 minutes before serving blend the cornflour, or cornstarch, with a tiny amount of water and stir into the chow.
This is an excellent winter meal suitable for the whole family, and kids love it. You could serve with crusty fresh bread or rolls. You could also serve it with sauté potatoes, French Fries, English chips, or potato wedges.
You could always make an old-fashioned stew, which is tasty and warming but one-pot meals can be so much more versatile. Home style Pot Roast with Vegetables and Gravy is a great way to cook a whole meal in one pot and use a variety of seasonal winter vegetables. On the same web page, South Western style Beef and Potato Bake is a different take on the British favourite Cottage Pie and again provides a complete meal in one pot.
A slow cooker is so useful for cooking one-pot meals and there are many wonderful slow cooker recipes on the Internet. Slow cookers use very little fuel, and once you place your prepared ingredients into the pot, require little attention. Slow cookers also enable you to use the cheaper cuts of meat, which require slow, gentle cooking to make them tasty. Slow cookers concentrates flavours making one –pot dishes even more satisfying.
There some excellent, imaginative slow cooker recipes on the Internet, try Italian Vegetable Bake, (for American cooks, courgette is zucchini, and aubergine is eggplant) a tasty, colourful dish, just the thing to bring sunshine to a winter day.
Vegetarians will find some excellent one-pot recipes on the Internet. You could alter some of these recipes to make them suitable for cooking in a slow cooker.
There is nothing more comforting or satisfying than soup on a cold winter day. Main course soups or chowders with chunky meat and/or vegetables are the ultimate one-pot meal. Just serve with crusty bread, croutons, toasted slices of baguette, or other soup accompaniments.
Traditional dishes such as macaroni cheese, stews and casseroles make super satisfying one-pot meals. However, there is much more to one-pot meals than traditional favourites. A browse through some internet recipes will reveal imaginative, satisfying and tasty one-pot meals to delight your family’s taste buds all winter long and comfort you on the coldest winter day.