I watched an episode of Jamie Oliver’s 30 Minute Meals just recently and I was not impressed. The food looked sensational and I’m sure it tasted wonderful too but 30 minutes? Right. For a master chef with everything prepared and ready to go, yes 30 minutes is doable but for you and me? I think not. And dare I say it? I’d hate to have to face all the cleaning up as well.
So for this first, quick meal recipe I’m going to give you a two pot meal with minimum preparation, fuss or mess. I know because I just cooked it for dinner.
Now, being a writer and an imaginative kind of person I pictured myself rushing home from work. Are you with me so far? Good. I think we both know that preparing dinner is not what I’m thinking about. I’m tired, my feet hurt, I want a cup of something, or perhaps a glass of something but I know that duty calls. I open the front door, dump my stuff and on the way to the bedroom I spend 2 seconds turning the oven onto about 180 celsius fan-forced [365 F]. Then I get changed, have a drink, talk to the dog and wind down for a bit.
Once I’m ready to cook the oven should be ready as well. I put about 2 tablespoons of peanut or olive oil in a roasting pan and then I add 6 – 8 free-range chicken thick fillets to the pan. Skin on or off doesn’t matter but I really wouldn’t use breast meat as it dries out very quickly. Next I sprinkle the chicken with some ordinary table salt and a little white pepper. To complete my preparations I slice one small onion and a nice red capsicum [bell pepper] and toss them on top of the chicken. The pan goes into the oven and I’m 1/3 of the way done.
Potatoes are next. I like those little potatoes [called chats here] but you can use whatever you’ve got just cut them into quarters or smaller so they cook quickly. The potatoes go into a pot with just enough water to cover. In goes a bit of salt and on goes the lid.
While the potatoes are cooking I wash some lettuce or water cress [I love the flavour of water cress plus it’s full of vitamins and anti-oxidants] and tomatoes [or whatever you have in the fridge and like to eat raw]. While the vegetables drain I make the salad dressing. I pour about 3 tablespoons of olive oil in the salad bowl – it helps if the bowl is still empty 😉 – add about the same quantity of vinegar or lemon juice, a pinch of salt and stir. Voila salad dressing is done. Everything except the lettuce can go in the salad dressing right now. Leave the lettuce until you’re ready to serve.
By now the potatoes should be just cooked. Drain. If you used large potatoes cut into smaller pieces the skin may have come off. Discard the bits of loose skin and throw the potatoes in with the chicken. These potatoes won’t go crunchy. Instead they will soak up the pan juices and be delicious!
At this point I [and you] can relax for a bit with that glass of something I promised. In between watching the news on tv and having that drink I’m going to toss the potatoes in the baking dish to make sure they are well covered in the pan juices.
45 minutes after starting to cook dinner is done. AND… I have just one pot and one pan to clean. Not bad if I do say so myself.
Once a week we get takeaway home delivered. It’s my break from cooking and it keeps me sane but the takeaway costs more than the meal I’ve just cooked, isn’t as fresh and healthy and takes about the same length of time to arrive, sometimes longer if they’re busy. I rest my case.
p.s. I’m trying out the scheduling feature!