No need to rely on luck to get the best out of your pot − this culinary style is steeped in tradition.
Every culture has its version of the one-pot dish, dating back to the times our ancestors started to appreciate that food was more than just fuel – it could also give great pleasure. Over the years, seasonings and flavourings have been added to the day’s catch, no doubt firstly as a preservative in days before refrigeration, and then to add flavour.
One-pot dishes are generally simple to cook as they usually require slow cooking with little supervision. Most importantly, these dishes also use of cuts of meat that have great melting textures when cooked for a long time. These are often the least-expensive cuts: look for brisket, rib, neck, shoulder and leg cuts. Serve with pasta, polenta, rice or noodles on the side to add a cultural twist of choice. In winter a hearty meat dish is ideal. The pork recipe at right can be served with rice.
But don’t leave seafood out of the equation. One of my favourite meals involves cooking mussels and clams in white wine, olive oil and garlic until they open (discard any that don’t). Then remove from the pan. Add some chilli, then braise fish, prawns and scallops in the juices. Then add the clams and mussels back into the pot and fold through a tin of cooked white beans. In minutes you have seafood stew to salivate over. Accompany it with bread, a salad and a glass of wine.
Braised pork with chillies
I love anything with pork belly in it. Giving it a really good fry first will render out a lot of the fat, so I guess, in a way, it’s a little healthy. Who am I kidding? It just tastes good! Serves 4
1kg (2lb 4oz) pork belly, cut into 5 x 8cm
(2 x 3¼inch) pieces
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 dried long red chillies
3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 bay leaves, fresh if available
1 piece of orange rind
Melt the butter with a splash of oil in a wide pan over medium heat. Put the pork belly into the pan in a single layer and season with sea salt. Cook the pork slowly for about 30 minutes, turning occasionally, until the meat is golden brown and most of the fat has been rendered. Pour off and discard most of the fat.
Meanwhile, put the chillies in a bowl with 500ml (17fl oz/2 cups) boiling water and allow to soak for about 30 minutes. Remove the chillies, reserving the water, and chop roughly. Blend or process the chillies, garlic, cumin and the chilli water until smooth.
Add the chilli sauce, bay leaves and orange rind to the pork and stir with a wooden spoon, scraping any brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat to low, cover and braise the meat for about 1½ hours, or until it is very tender and the sauce has thickened. Remove the bay leaves and orange rind and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
Divide the pork into four large bowls and serve with steamed jasmine rice.
Recipe from Good Food by Neil Perry, photography by Earl Carter
Sydney chef and restaurateur Neil Perry designs Qantas First and Business menus. For recipes and cooking tips visit: Website