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One Pot Dishes

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So the holidays are upon us and I for one would like to maximize my time enjoying the festivities and minimize the time I spend cleaning up in the kitchen.  Which is where the concept of the 'One-Pot Meal' comes into play.

Chef Jerry Pellegrino says, there's no reason why this efficient minimalist approach to cooking can't yield very tasty results.  Here are a few great ideas.

Cassoulet

Chefs Amy von Lange & Jerry Pellegrino

The traditional French country dish of Cassoulet has two components:  the duck confit and the stew itself.

Duck Confit

Ingredients

4 duck legs
sea salt
black pepper
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 sprig of fresh rosemary
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced

2 cups/450 g duck fat (available online from D’Artagnan)

Day One
Place the duck legs and all the other ingredients except the duck fat in a bowl and mix until the legs are cpaoted evenly with the salt and have rubbed against the herbs. Place in a shallow dish, cover with plastic and refrigerate overnight. 

Day Two
Preheat the oven to 250°F. Render (melt) the duck fat in the saucepan until clear. Place the duck legs and all the other ingredients in a clean, ovenproof casserole. Pour the duck fat over the legs to just cover. Cover the dish with foil and put in the oven. Cook for three hours, or until the skin at the "ankle" of each leg pulls away from the "knuckle." The meat should be tender.

Allow to cool and then store as is in the refrigerator, sealed under the fat. When you need the confit, you can either warm the whole dish, in which case removing the legs will be easy, or dig them out of the cold fat and scrape off the excess.

The stew 

Ingredients

5 cups white beans
2 pounds fresh pork belly
1 onion, cut into 4 pieces
1 bouquet garni (see below)
salt and pepper
¼ cup duck fat
6 pork sausages
3 onions, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced

1 cup crushed tomatoes

2 tablespoons fresh thyme

1 cup bread crumbs
4 confit duck legs

Day One
Place the beans in the large bowl and cover with cold water so that there are at least 2 or 3 inches of water above the top of the beans. Soak overnight.

Day Two
Drain and rinse the beans and place in the large pot. Add the pork belly, the quartered onion, and the bouquet garni. Cover with water, add salt and pepper to taste, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until the beans are tender, about an hour. Let cool for 20 minutes, then discard the onion and the bouquet garni. Remove the pork belly, cut it into 2-inch squares, and set aside. (If you plan to wait another day before finishing the dish, wait to cut the pork belly until then.) Strain the beans, reserving the cooking liquid separately.

In a large oven proof Dutch oven, heat the duck fat over medium-high heat until it shimmers and becomes transparent. Carefully add the sausages and brown on all sides. Remove and set aside, draining on paper towels. In the same pan, brown the squares of pork belly on each side. Remove and set aside, draining on paper towels. In the same pan, over medium-high heat, brown the sliced onions, the garlic. Add one cup of the reserved bean cooking liquid and, using a spatula, scrap and brown bits of off the bottom of the pot. Add the beans, pork belly, sausages tomatoes, and thyme.

Use just enough of the reserved cooking liquid to just cover the beans. Bring the cassoulet to a boil with occasional stirring. Reduce the heat and simmer for one hour with occasional stirring. Sprinkle the bread crumbs evenly over the top of the cassoulet and place under the broiler until the brad crumbs just begin to turn brown. Carefully remove the pot from the oven. Place the confit duck legs on the bread crumbs, skin side up and return to the broiler. Cook until the duck skin turns golden brown and becomes crispy. Remove and serve.

Beef Bourguignon

Ingredients

1 6-ounce piece chunk bacon

3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

3 pounds lean stew beef, cut into 2-inch cubes

1 onion, sliced

Salt and pepper

2 tablespoons flour

3 cups red wine, young and full bodied

3 cups beef stock

1 tablespoon tomato paste

2 cloves mashed garlic

1/2 teaspoon thyme

1 bay leaf, crumbled

20 small white onions

3 1/2 tablespoons butter

herb bouquet (4 parsley sprigs, one-half bay leaf, one-quarter teaspoon thyme, tied in cheesecloth)

1-pound fresh mushrooms, quartered

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Remove bacon rind and cut into lardons (sticks 1/4-inch thick and 1 1/2 inches long). Simmer rind and lardons for 10 minutes in 1 1/2 quarts water. Drain and dry.

Sauté lardons in 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a flameproof casserole over moderate heat for 2 to 3 minutes to brown lightly. Remove to side dish with a slotted spoon.

Heat fat in casserole until almost smoking. Dry beef in paper towels; it will not brown if it is damp. Add beef, a few pieces at a time, and sauté until nicely browned on all sides. Add it to the lardons. In the same fat, brown the sliced vegetables. Pour out the excess fat.

Return the beef and bacon to the casserole and toss with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Then sprinkle on the flour and toss again to coat the beef lightly. Set casserole uncovered in middle position of preheated oven for 4 minutes. Toss the meat again and return to oven for 4 minutes (this browns the flour and coves the meat with a light crust). Remove casserole and turn oven down to 325 degrees.

Stir in wine and 2 to 3 cups stock, just enough so that the meat is barely covered. Add the tomato paste, garlic, herbs and bacon rind. Bring to a simmer on top of the stove. Cover casserole and set in lower third of oven. Regulate heat so that liquid simmers very slowly for 3 to 4 hours. The meat is done when a fork pierces it easily.

While the beef is cooking, prepare the onions and mushrooms. Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons butter with one and one-half tablespoons of the oil until bubbling in a skillet. Add onions and sauté over moderate heat for about 10 minutes, rolling them so they will brown as evenly as possible. Be careful not to break their skins. You cannot expect them to brown uniformly. Add 1/2 cup of the stock, salt and pepper to taste and the herb bouquet. Cover and simmer slowly for 40 to 50 minutes until the onions are perfectly tender but hold their shape, and the liquid has evaporated. Remove herb bouquet and set onions aside.

Wipe out skillet and heat remaining oil and butter over high heat. As soon as you see butter has begun to subside, indicating it is hot enough, add mushrooms. Toss and shake pan for 4 to 5 minutes. As soon as they have begun to brown lightly, remove from heat. When the meat is tender, pour the contents of the casserole into a sieve set over a saucepan.

Wash out the casserole and return the beef and lardons to it. Distribute the cooked onions and mushrooms on top. Skim fat off sauce in saucepan. Simmer sauce for 1-2 minutes, skimming off additional fat as it rises. You should have about 2 1/2 cups of sauce thick enough to coat a spoon lightly. If too thin, boil it down rapidly. If too thick, mix in a few tablespoons stock. Taste carefully for seasoning.

Pour sauce over meat and vegetables. Cover and simmer 2 to 3 minutes, basting the meat and vegetables with the sauce several times. Serve in casserole, or arrange stew on a platter surrounded with potatoes, noodles or rice, and decorated with parsley.

Inside Out Stuffed Cabbage

1-pound ground beef

2 cups cubed peeled butternut squash (about 12 ounces)

1 medium green pepper, chopped

1 envelope Lipton beefy onion soup mix

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 can (11.5 ounces) Spicy Hot V8 juice

1 cup water

6 cups chopped cabbage (about 1 small head)

½ cup uncooked instant brown rice

In a Dutch oven, cook and crumble beef with squash and pepper over medium-high heat until no longer pink; drain. Stir in soup mix, brown sugar, V8 juice, water and cabbage; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, until cabbage is tender, 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Stir in rice; return to a boil. Simmer, covered, 5 minutes. Remove from heat; let stand, covered, until rice is tender, about 5 minutes.

-Al Spoler 

Al Spoler, well known to WYPR listeners as the wine-loving co-host of "Cellar Notes" has had a long-standing parallel interest in cooking as well. Al has said, the moment he started getting serious about Sunday night dinners was the same moment he started getting serious about wine. Over the years, he has benefited greatly from being a member of the Cork and Fork Society of Baltimore, a gentlemen's dining club that serves black tie meals cooked by the members themselves who are some of Baltimore's most accomplished amateur cooks.
As General Partner of Clipper City Brewing Company, L.P., Hugh J. Sisson is among Baltimore's premier authorities on craft brewing and a former manager of the state's first pub brewery, Sissons, located in Federal Hill. A fifth generation Baltimorean, Hugh has been involved in all aspects of craft brewing.