While my darling and always voracious wife S and I love nothing more than spending a whole day together working our way through a slew of recipes, the reality is that this kind of cooking can really only happen on the weekend. And even then, being able to block out a whole Saturday or Sunday is becoming increasingly rare. What’s more common these days is coming home dog-tired after a long day of work, raiding the fridge, and tossing whatever we find into a large pot, before heading up to our room to change and shower. If all goes well, a couple of hours later, we’ll have something hot and satisfying to dish into our plates and fill our bellies.
Fortunately, S and I also regularly stock our fridge with essentials from Huber’s Butchery and Tekka Market, so we usually have some pretty nice cuts of meats, veggies, and a supply of good quality stocks from which to put together our weekday suppers.
We’ve also become pretty adept at whipping together some pretty tasty one-pot meals. One of my favourite recipes is a lovely braised lamb and kale dish from Sam and Sam Clark of Moro fame. Another is a Japanese curry made with some nice choice cuts of brisket and some veal stock. We also love Nigel Slater’s coq au riesling (or as we often make it, a coq au gewurztraminer). A recent addition to our one-pot wonder repertoire is an Asian-inspired pot au feu that combines the best elements of Vietnamese pho and the classic French dish.
Of course, when preparing your slow-cooked masterpieces, you’ll need a great pot. S and I have a penchant for cast-iron cocottes. Heat is distributed evenly, which is best when cooking at lower temperatures. We especially like Staub cocottes, which have “nipples” on the lid; these help to return the liquid that condenses during the cooking process. Plus, the cocottes come in pretty colours — a plus for cooks with a penchant for style and design.
Asian-inspired pot au feu
feeds 2 hungry overworked people
750g beef brisket, cubed
1 litre beef or veal stock
1 litre water
2 carrots, chopped into 1.5cm chunks
2 medium leeks, chopped into 1.5cm chunks
1 large onion
1 4cm piece of ginger
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and bruised
4 star anise
1 3cm piece cinnamon
1/8 cup fish sauce
1 2-3cm piece of rock sugar
1 tablespoon salt
1 bouquet garni made with thyme and parsley
1 kaffir lime
Rub a bit of salt and pepper on the beef.
Over an open flame, char the onion and the ginger. Peel the onion’s outer skin away; discard it. Cut off the ends. Then quarter it. Slice the ginger in half and then bruise it.
Pour both the stock and water into the cocotte. Add the rock sugar, fish sauce, salt, cloves, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, garlic and bouquet garni to the liquid. Heat the stock up until it is simmering. Put in the beef, the onion, ginger, leek and carrots. Keep cooking with the liquid at a low simmer with the lid off.
After 30 minutes, remove the carrots and leeks. Quickly plunge in ice water, drain and then set aside. In another hour, remove the beef and onion and set aside. Keep simmering the stock for another hour, after which strain it. Put the beef, onion, carrots and leeks back into the liquid, heat through and then season with more sugar or salt to taste. Just before serving, squeeze a touch of kaffir lime juice into your soup.
Some special news. The Live It Up! store at Parco Millenia is having a store-wide sale on Staub items during the months of October and November. All Chubby Hubby blog readers are getting an additional 10% off the discounted prices. All you have to do to qualify is say that you’re a Chubby Hubby reader.