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The Cross and the Cleaver: It’s Winter!

As I sit at my keyboard, it is -37 °C outside. and it feels like -50 °C according to my weather app. A mug of strong, hot, tea with two thin slices of lemon seems to be just the ticket. Accompanied by a few Danish style sugar cookies. If you are going to have it as well, never peel the lemon. It does make a difference. Such fare, accompanied by some soft and warm jazz is just the right environment to think about dinner. Especially if you don’t want to go out shopping in such weather.

I am thinking a potful of delicious, aromatic goodness. Simple enough I don’t have to sweat it. With enough broth to need a spoon. Winter is the very reason for such dishes.

Most cultures have them. They warm the heart and the stomach. They fill the house with the aroma of vegetables, meat (or fish) and seasonings. Which makes a difference when you walk in from a miserable outside. There is French beef bourguignon or pot-au-feu, Italian caponata, Portuguese feijoada, Polish tripe and the eponymous Irish stew. And that is only the tip of the iceberg.

They all originated out of availability of time, space, and, often local, ingredients. When all you have is some root vegetables, and, if you are lucky, some animal protein, you are not going to make a fancy three-five course meal. You are going to chuck it all in, season it with whatever herbs grew in your garden and hope for the best. Remember – one pot cooking originated over outdoor fires and at hearths. It began in cast iron cauldrons or large earthenware. Only afterwards did we start getting fancy and lost many of the dishes’ original taste and intent.

You may recall I often write about simplicity … in cooking, in life, in faith. I think a simple one pot dish can be a good place to reflect on many aspects of that simplicity. A quick google search renders hundreds of recipes and variations on such dishes.

You might do the search, you might be drawn to the picture provided, you might even decide this is what you are cooking for dinner. The rub usually comes when you look at the list of ingredients. How many of us have the African cardamom, black Russian garlick, or fresh lemongrass on hand? Well, not me, I can tell you that . Not everyone can use substitutes, and even if, then it would still likely involve going shopping.

The recipe below is simple, wholesome and it calls for the ingredients I believe ought to always be present in any pantry/larder/spice cupboard.

Let’s get warm!


To a large pot add:

4-8 chicken pieces (drumsticks, thighs, or both)

8-10 mid-size potatoes, quartered* (don’t bother peeling them)

3-4 mid-size carrots, quartered

2 mid-size parsnips, quartered

1 roughly chopped onion

1-2 garlick cloves (sliced, diced or crushed … whatever)

Season with salt, pepper, thyme or oregano

Boil on low for 1 – 1½ hour

Serve with bread and optional hot sauce for those who might want some extra heat.

Wrapped up in flannel … Piotr

*The idea behind “quartered’ is to have all the veg roughly the same size, say, two inches by two inches.

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