Before they both got married, my dad and his friend used to take it in turns cooking. My dad’s speciality was a one pot wonder. A casserole some might say. He probably called it dinner. Made the washing up easier afterwards I am sure.
Everywhere has some version of a one pot dinner. In fact you can buy whole cookbooks dedicated to one pot dishes. Stews, casseroles, pies, the list goes on. There’s a one-pot dish I make which always goes down a treat. I make it for Sunday dinner here, or if we are having a bunch of visitors or sometimes, just because I want to make a good impression on some poor sucker. It’s rich, silky and unctuous (check me out learning from Masterchef), ridiculously moreish and very filling. AND if you have leftovers, it tastes even better reheated the next day. It’s a dish that where I grew up, everyone knew. Everyone’s mother made it slightly differently. And nearly every trip to the beach involved a pot of this being thrown into the car. If you try nothing else from this blog, please, please, please try this recipe.
For the vegetarians that read this blog, I have made it veggie style too by chucking in any and every veg I could think of in lieu of chicken. Mushrooms and broccoli work really well instead. For the purists who have just read that, I apologise.
800g chicken pieces, skinned
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 tbsp. mixed green seasoning
6 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp bitters (optional)
2 tsp soy sauce
1 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2-3 tbsp brown sugar
2 cups rice
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 chopped sweet pepper
1 cup pigeon peas (I don’t have pigeon peas here so I use mixed beans instead)
1 whole chilli pepper
400ml coconut milk
First things first, season the chicken with salt, pepper, green seasoning, garlic, soy sauce, bitters and ketchup. Set it aside.
Place peas or beans in a pan of water to cook. Keep topping up with water as needed and scraping off any scum that rises to the top of the water. Drain and set aside.
Put the rice on to parboil. I heat a little veg oil in the bottom of a pan and stir the rice in over a low heat until it looks translucent. Then I add in same amount of water and cook till water absorbed. Take it off the heat.
Get a large cast iron pot. Heat the oil in the bottom of the pot and add the brown sugar. You want to let the sugar caramelise until the point of burning but not quite. A tough line to toe. Not enough and you miss the flavour. Too much and it tastes burnt. Trust me I have done it both ways.
Add seasoned chicken and cook in the sugar, turning a few times. You want the meat to colour up well. Probably about five minutes.
Then add the rice stirring through the sugar and meat juices until all turns brown. When I was little I thought this was how you ‘made’ brown rice. Add in the peppers, onions and peas/beans. Let the whole thing cook for another five minutes stirring every so often.
Pour in the coconut milk and water/stock. Stir it through. If you are using the chilli pepper, place it gently on top of everything. You want the flavour from the pepper as opposed to the heat so you don’t want the pepper to burst during the cooking. If you want a spicier dish, you can add hot pepper sauce later on. Bring the whole thing to boil, then turn the heat right down, cover and let it simmer until all liquid has evaporated.
The bottom of the dish will probably have crusted over and stuck to the pan. This is called the ‘bunbun’ and is highly prized where I come from. Even Mr. Fairweather has come around to it.