Chef Dario Cavaliere writes a weekly food column for the Waterford News & Star
One pot simple dinners are sometimes the best way of getting maximum flavour into a dinner. This is obviously due to the fact that all of the ingredients go into the same pot.
However, it is important that you get the most out of each ingredient, so don’t be tempted to throw everything in to the pot and hope for the best.
The onion, for example, should always be cooked first, as should any meat or vegetables. There is usually and end procedure too, for instance in the risotto dish below, always finish with the butter and Parmesan for a delicious creamy taste. The chicken should be finished with fresh herbs to give a really fresh flavour.
Chicken with Tomatoes
4 chicken fillets
2 large tomatoes, diced
3 tbsp. tomato puree
1 small onion, diced
100g bacon pieces/pancetta
2 tbsp. sunflower oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 pint chicken stock from cube
250ml red wine
1 tbsp. chopped fresh thyme
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Start by heating the oil in a large heavy based pot over a medium heat. Season the chicken fillets on both sides with salt and pepper and lay in the hot oil.
Brown the chicken fillets on both sides before adding the chopped onion and bacon. Continue cooking until the onion has softened and the bacon has browned.
Then add the garlic and mix well cooking for one minute before adding the tomato puree and the chopped thyme.
Turn the heat to high then add the chicken stock and the red wine. Cook until it begins to boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes until it has reduced by one third. Then add the chopped tomatoes. Taste for seasoning at this point and adjust if necessary. Stir well.
Cook the dish for another 15 minutes and then serve with chopped fresh parsley.
Smoked Ham and Mushroom Risotto
200g Arborio rice
2 pints chicken stock from 2 cubes
100g chopped smoked rashers
1 small onion, chopped
3 courgettes, diced
3 tbsp. butter
3 tbsp., grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp. olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Start by heating the olive oil with two tablespoons of the butter in a medium-sized pot. Sauté the bacon, courgette and the onion in the pot over a low to medium heat until the bacon is cooked through and the courgette and onion have softened. Then add the Arborio rice and cook it for one minute making sure that the rice has been coated well in the oil and butter and that the bacon, courgette and onion is mixed well into the rice.
Add one pint of the chicken stock and turn the heat to high. It should bubble up quite rapidly and you will need to stir it well, making sure that it does not stick to the bottom.
The chicken stock should quickly absorb into the rice, and when there is no liquid left, add one more ladle of chicken stock. Stir this well again making sure that it does not stick. Turn the heat down to a low and continue cooking the rice, stirring all the time.
Continue to only add more stock once the previous ladle of stock has been absorbed, until you have no more stock left and the rice is cooked. This should tale about 20 to 25 minutes in total.
Turn the rice down to low and add the remaining butter and all of the Parmesan cheese. For a creamier consistency you can add 100ml of fresh cream at this point. Remove from the heat and allow to stand for a few minutes before serving.